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Great headlines of our time

Monday, November 30, 2009
Should serve to give everyone a good laugh too:

Yeah, right.

And there's more:

The advantages and vitality of socialism have been clearly proved by the reality in the DPRK which has brought about in a short span of historical time great socio-economic changes. It is impossible for capitalism to do so even though they would have taken it hundreds of years.

The South Korean economy weighs in at $929 billion (nominal) and that of the DPRK at $26.2 billion...  

And because I feel like it, a Daktoritang of DPRK odds and ends:

"General Secretary Kim Jong Il provided field guidance to the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm newly built by the Ministry of People's Security....Feasting his eyes on a vast expanse of fields under fruit trees standing in good order and roads stretching between orchards and modern structures, he expressed great satisfaction over the fact that soldier-builders built a modern large-scale fruit producer of world standard in a matter of a few months out of patriotism".

I would have thought bricks and mortar would have been a better choice.  

And the old villain really has been getting out and about:

General Secretary Kim Jong Il provided field guidance to the newly-built Sokjong Pig Farm and the Sokjong Factory for Producing Sliced Vegetables Preserved in Soy Sauce.

Snappy name.

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Photo fun

This currently adorns the front of the Nestle building in Croydon:

Can't say that Nescafe is my fave instant coffee, but I wouldn't class it as toxic.  


The 1959 Hansard Trawl - featuring tomatoes, pigs, G.B Shaw and background music

Thursday, November 26, 2009
Kicking off with a bit of toxic waste:

Mr. E. Fletcher asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what further steps he is taking to minimise the dangers through human consumption of fish caused by British methods of dumping radioactive waste at sea, in the light of the criticisms made at the International Atomic Energy Agency's conference at Monaco.

Mr. Godber Continuous monitoring by scientists of my Ministry and of the Atomic Energy Authority shows that the authorised discharges of radioactive waste to the sea do not give rise to any risk to consumers of fish. My right hon. Friend will, of course, study the official report of the Monaco Conference when this is received.

(And they glow on your plate, saving on lighting)

Mr. Fletcher Will the Parliamentary Secretary bear in mind the fundamental differences in scientific circles about the dangers from the disposal of radioactive waste? Is he aware that the Windscale works disposes of more radioactive waste in the sea than is disposed of in any other country? Is the hon. Gentleman also aware that at this conference of the most eminent scientists in Europe the view was expressed that there should be no disposal of radioactive waste at all but that it should all be stored?

Mr. Godber  I am aware of the point of view put forward by certain delegates of other countries, but I should like to emphasise that we have a very careful monitoring of any area where the Windscale waste goes, and reports so far certainly do not bear out any of the fears that have been expressed.

For the benefit of any younger readers Windscale is the old name for Sellafield.

Something that appears to come from another age:

Mr. D. Price asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware that in September the price for tomatoes to the grower fell to 2s. for 12 lb., whereas the cost of production is about 9s. for 12 lb.; and what steps he intends to take to protect producers from losses of this kind.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Hare)    In early September, market prices for tomatoes were low, ranging from 2s. to 12s. for 12 lb. according to quality, but the cost of production must be compared with returns for the season as a whole. The seasonal tariff is designed to give producers reasonable protection from excessive imports. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is answering a later Question on the subject of the tomato tariff.

Poor darlings.  They should have grown something else or left the land.  I wonder if Price would have been as concerned if it was the other foot that was bebooted.

An extract from a debate on pigs:

Mr. LiptonWas it not made very clear by the Government not very long ago and on more than one occasion that too many pigs were being produced? What is the use of hon. Members who support the Government belly-aching now about the situation?

Mr. Nabarro    Not a Parliamentary term.


Something rather more pleasant:

Mr. Pitman asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what sum has accrued to the British Museum to date as its share of the estate of the late George Bernard Shaw.

Sir E. Boyle   The Answer is £163,924 10s. 5d.

And a grateful nation gives thanks.  His plan to fund a simplified spelling system having failed a test of litigation, monies also went to RADA and the National Gallery of Ireland.  
Meanwhile over in the Other Place, this:

LORD CONESFORD  My Lords, I beg leave to ask Her Majesty's Government the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper. To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the B.E.A. or the B.O.A.C. intend to subject their passengers to compulsory background music on any of their services; and, if so, what steps they take to warn the passengers before they buy their tickets.

THE PAYMASTER GENERAL (LORD MILLS)  My Lords, I am informed that British Overseas Airways Corporation are considering a proposal to broadcast music to passengers while aircraft are stationary on the ground. The Corporation do not envisage such broadcasting while aircraft are in the air: nor, if the proposal is adopted, do they think it necessary to warn passengers in advance. I understand that British European Airways have no similar plans.

LORD CONESFORD  My Lords, may I thank my noble friend for an Answer that is partly satisfactory? Is my noble friend aware that the helpless victim of such noise may suffer intense discomfort? Is there any possible reason why those who intend to inflict such discomfort upon him should not warn him of such intention in order to enable him to travel by other means?

LORD STONHAM Is the noble Lord aware that this matter involves a very great deal of tact? Because on October 9 of this year the broadcasting system of one railway station was playing, "Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag", which was offensive to almost half of Her Majesty's subjects.

Erm, lost me there.

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Serbia has a new best friend

From Blic:

"President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila said yesterday during talks with Serbia Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic that he ‘shall not recognize Kosovo as long as he lives’.  It is interesting that Kabila’s father lived one year in Belgrade as a student before leaving to the USSR. Jeremic who is in Africa as of Monday said that the goal of his visit to Congo was tightening of traditional friendship and political and economic cooperation between the two countries". 

The current geographic state of play with recognition of Kosovo looks like this:

Blue is formal recognition, yellow is pending.  Odd that there is so little Islamic solidarity at work.

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The end of a Faustian pact with the DPRK?

"After five and a half years in operation, the Goethe-Institut in North Korea has said it will close its reading room in the capital city of Pyongyang due to censorship concerns. The institute, a non-profit organization that promotes the study of German language and culture in 91 countries, opened the reading room in June 2004. It was the first and only Western cultural institution to establish itself in the communist country". 

Raimund Woerdemann, director of the Goethe-Institut in Seoul [said] "The building in which the reading room was located was often locked from the front," he said. "There was a permanent construction site in front of the back entrance: not a welcoming situation."

(Can I be blamed for taking the opportunity to use that headline?)

And since I'm in show off mode - just for a change - time for my favourite Faust quote, which may or may not apply to KJI:  "Es irrt der Mensch, solang er strebt".  Or 'One errs as long as one offers field guidance to the Sariwon chicken farm strives'. 


King Christian X of Denmark will be turning in his grave

This, from the Copenhagen Post:

"More than 1500 immigrants from Turkish, Pakistani, Somali, Palestinian and Eastern European backgrounds have been interviewed, along with 300 ethnic Danes, for a study on attitudes towards Jews, reports Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper....A third of respondents from non-Danish ethnic backgrounds said one ‘couldn’t be too careful enough in relation to Jews in Denmark’. In comparison, 18.2 percent of Danish respondents felt the same.  Three quarters of the former category said they wouldn’t like to see a family member marry a Danish Jew and 31.9 percent felt there were too many Jews in Denmark. Of the Danish respondents, 14.7 percent said they didn’t want a Jew to marry into their family".

Current best guess is that there are 7000 Jews in Denmark, or 0.12% of the population.

It turns out that the King and the yellow star story is an urban myth, but the record of the Danes in WW2 vis a vis its Jewish population was a good one.

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The nation prefers a Belgian to Mr Tony

Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Politics Home has been good enough to poll the nation on the appointment of Van Rompuy, with the key finding being that 61% prefer the Belgian from Central Casting to Mr Tony.  (Snigger).  A derisory 23%  yearn for the Prince over the Water, so he is even less popular than the current government.

More here.

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The 1909 Hansard Trawl - featuring electrical call boxes, plasterers and flags in North Down

And it's back.

So, first things first, flags:

Mr. JOHN ROCHE  May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that it is not usual to hoist the Union Jack over public buildings in Ireland on the King's Birthday, and even in the case of the brewers and distillers it has not been done?

Mr. BIRRELL  Very shocking!

Mr. T. L. CORBETT  Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in Belfast and other loyal parts of the North of Ireland— I know the right hon. Gentleman treats this with contempt—it has been in the past the custom to hoist the Union Jack as the emblem of the unity of empire?

Mr. BIRRELL   I have no knowledge of it.

 Mr. JOYCE   What price do you get for flying it?

Mr. J. MacVEAGH    May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that on the last birthday of the King there was not a Union Jack flying in the whole of the constituency of North Down?

I doubt Mr Macveagh checked this in person, but then I am a bit given to cynicism.

Temperance fanatics

Sir JOHN KENNAWAY  asked whether His Majesty's Government propose in any way to modify their policy of discouraging the sale of spirits to the native races of Africa in consequence of the findings of the Committee presided over by Sir Mackenzie Chalmers?

Colonel SEELY  His Majesty's Government do not propose to modify in any way their policy of discouraging the sale of spirits to the native races of Africa, and they will continue to co-operate with other European Powers to that end.

Many years back I encountered a Nigerian beer which had 'Makes you feel real fine' on the label.  It wasn't bad, although not a patch on Lagos Guinness, drinking which is like kissing God, if the blasphemy might be excused.  

The lot of Belgian plasterers:

Mr. J. WARD Is four francs per day the standard rate of wages for plasterers in Brussels?


Mr. J. WARD  There is a lot of difference between that and the wages paid in this country.

Mr. W. THORNE  Did the right hon. Gentleman advise the contractor as to the rate of wages to be paid?

Mr. CHURCHILL  No, Sir; it is obvious that in decorating an exhibition in a foreign country you cannot import British workmen. That would cause a great deal of ill-feeling, and might destroy the purpose of the exhibition. The rule followed by the Government is to pay the current rate of wages in the district, and that, I am informed, is four francs per day for plasterers.

Well, well, well...

London Electric Call Boxes.

Mr. G. L. COURTHOPE (for Mr. Staveley-Hill) asked the Postmaster-General whether any steps are taken to ventilate the street boxes in London used for electric calls, having regard to the fact that many large towns in England have, in the interests of public health, adopted means for ventilating them?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Sydney Buxton) If the hon. Member is referring to the cabinets in public telephone call offices, I may assure him that all those installed by the Post Office have ventilators.

I will henceforth always refer to phone boxes as electrical call boxes, and if enough of my readers do likewise, spread the word etc, the gaiety of the nation will be greatly enhanced, I believe.

Dreadnoughts.  Again

Mr. BELLAIRS asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether in official statistics of "Dreadnoughts" and "Invincibles" the German armoured cruiser "Blucher" has not always been excluded on the ground that she has only 8-inch guns, as given in the official Return of Fleets (Great Britain and Foreign Countries); and whether he can now state what is the armament of this ship?

Mr. McKENNA   The heavy and medium armaments stated in the official Return of Fleets (Great Britain and Foreign Countries) for the German armoured cruiser "Blucher" are correct

And here she is:

Handsome, eh?  We sunk her at the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915.

And so to the Autocar League:

Sir JOHN BRUNNER asked the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to a circular issued by the Autocar League requesting its members to take out their licences for motor cars, carriages, male servants, armorial bearings, game, dogs, and guns in those counties specified by the League as being favourably disposed towards motorists; and to inquire whether, in order to secure to each county its fair share of the local taxation licences, he will be prepared to introduce legislation by which it would be made obligatory upon persons liable to duty to take out their licences in the county or county borough in which they ordinarily reside?

Mr. BURNS I have received a copy of the circular referred to, and I have drawn the attention of the Treasury to the matter.

Fancy needing a licence for a male servant.  A rum business.

Electric calling apparatus:

Mr. MORTON asked the Home Secretary whether all the Metropolitan Police 474W stations have yet been connected with the general telephone system; and, if so, what has been the effect?

Mr. GLADSTONE Of the 194 police stations, 131 are now connected with the public telephone. The facilities of communication thus afforded have, I understand, been found a convenience to the public. For police purposes a separate telephone system has, of course, existed for many years.

If you can get past the menu, of course.

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French sportsmanship

Tuesday, November 24, 2009
No, it isn't an oxymoron. The French, being the French, had to survey the Plain People of France on 'the hand of Henry'.

Are you proud of the French national team qualifying for the World Cup?

And by age:

So, our Gallic chums are pretty shamefaced about the whole exercise.  Further, a simple majority by each age and gender think Thierry Henry should have 'fessed up, and all demographics bar the morally nihilistic 25-34 year old age cohort want a replay.

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Now who's racist....

From the people once at the sharp end of 'No dogs, no Blacks, no Irish', this:

"The vast majority (72 per cent) of [Irish] people want to see a reduction in the number of non-Irish immigrants living here, according to an Irish Times /Behaviour Attitudes opinion poll.
Overall, a total of 43 per cent say they would like to see some, but not all, immigrants leave the State, while 29 per cent would like to see most immigrants leave".

This is the most recent demographic breakdown that I can lay hands on:

Irish: 94.7% (including 0.5% Irish Traveller), Asian: 4.3%, Black: 2.1%, Other/Mixed: 5.1%, Not Stated: 1.7% (2006) (Source

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Film fun

A little fun involving film quotes:

Some slick editing at work, and it is fairly easy to guess most of the films.  OK, maybe the first couple of dozen.

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The politics of TV stars, as seen by some random French internauts (and YT)

Monday, November 23, 2009
The promised results are now in:

Said random French internauts think that Homer Simpson, Richie 'Happy Days' Cunningham, two blokes from Friends and Jack Shephard from 'Lost' (inter alia) would vote for the Socialists.

Tony Soprano, Jack '24' Bauer, Vic 'The Shield' Mackey and Bobby 'Dallas' Ewing are Gaullists.

Phoebe from 'Friends', Papa Smurf and McGyver are judged Greens, and the Fonz a trot.  Crikey.

Gargamel from the Smurfs is reckoned a Frontiste, and Charles 'Little House on the Prairie' Ingalls a Chasse, Nature, Tradition voter.

The Liberals (MoDem) did rather badly, apparently.    

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Which countries actually give two hoots for freedom of speech?

From those nice people at World Public Opinion:

As the UN General Assembly prepares to debate a proposal calling for nations to take action against the defamation of religion, majorities in 13 of 20 nations polled around the world support the right to criticize a religion. On average, across all countries polled, 57% of respondents agree that "people should be allowed to publicly criticize a religion because people should have freedom of speech." However, an average of 34% of respondents agree that governments "should have the right to fine or imprison people who publicly criticize a religion because such criticism could defame the religion."
And a further breakdown of figures:

Being of a cynical bent, I suspect that certain respondents were thinking in terms of their own religion, rather than religion generally.  Or perhaps some of our Middle Eastern chums have decided that they actually rather like the Yahudi

Anyway, top marks for the Americans, although some 9% seem not to understand the First Amendment. I suppose we get a passing grade with 81% in favour of freedom of speech, while the French have disgraced themselves, frankly.


Art corner

A reader, GD, sent me this link yesterday, for which thanks.  It would have gone up earlier, but the linux laptop was proving recalcitrant, or more likely, I was proving incompetent:

Nicely done, although I am not sure that I would want to fork out for the priviliege of having the Dour One gazing down at me.

There is a rather nifty Obama poster generator here, if anyone fancies having a crack at it.

I see Dizzy has already done this, but I do not suppose our readerships have a 100% overlap.

Here's one I made earlier:


Gratuitous plugs department

Friday, November 20, 2009
Since those fine people at the TPA were good enough to send me a copy of 'Ten Years On' (Cheers Mark), here's their cinema ad which will shortly be enraging europhiles everywhere.  Stout work, people.


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Sake for sake's sake?


This from the Japan Times:

"Sake made its way into the British Parliament on Wednesday as the House of Lords gave the opening of a new session a twist to commemorate a landmark anniversary of bilateral relations.At a party hosted by the House of Lords, around 200 British lawmakers and other participants indulged in a taste of sake, which Japanese brewers hope will challenge the dominance of champagne and wine at party tables in Britain.

"The reaction I got here was beyond what I had expected," said Koichi Saura, a board member of the Japan Sake Brewers Association, who provided sake brewed in Miyagi and Toyama prefectures.

The event was part of the 150th anniversary of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce".

If I had been asked, I'd have gone too, but I can't see it catching on in a big way in these parts.

And here are Koichi Saura of the Japan Sake Brewers Association and the blessed Lord Pearson of Rannoch getting ready to let the good times roll:

 A report at another news source helpfully points out that Mr Saura is on the left.

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Ban Ki-Moon's equivalents of slavery

"Secretary-General, in Message to Mark International Day for Slavery’s Abolition, Says List of Similarly Abhorrent Modern Practices Is ‘Shockingly Long’.  Source


"In our globalized world, new forms of slavery have taken shape.  The list of abhorrent practices, new and old, is now shockingly long, and includes debt bondage, serfdom, forced labour, child labour and servitude, trafficking of persons and human organs, sexual slavery, the use of child soldiers, the sale of children, forced marriage and the sale of wives, and the exploitation of prostitution".

Not really in the same league as slavery, are they?


Frenchman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine"">"It is never difficult to distinguish between a Frenchman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine"

Thursday, November 19, 2009
(Granted, it is our Hibernian neighbours who have more to feel aggreived about at the mo'.  And apologies to the Master for the quote).

Anyway, TNS Sofres asked the following:

"Of the following qualifiers, which best characterise your current frame of mind?" 

And the results, by party, are in:

I'm quite impressed that so many Gaullists are feeling serene, frankly.  Equally intriguing is that Greens, who are forever telling us the end is nigh are the least likely to be fearful.  Also, a round of applause for the Liberals in that they supply none of the 'don't knows'. 

Elsewhere, the voters of all parties think the worst is yet to come, recession-wise, with 72% of the Left, and 54% of both Libs and the Right thinking so.   44% of the Left think recovery will come later than 2011.

The French right appears to be less than wholly convinced by capitalism and the free market, as a mere 5% think that it should be left alone, with 50% wanting some reform and 36% wanting in depth reform.  Oh dear...  Mind you, one has to be amused by the one in 50 of Socialist voters who also want it left alone. 

Sticking with France, a survey by Conde Nast suggests that French women spend an average of €196 on a pair of shoes.  That's £175, sterling fans.   Given that the average French woman of 25+ has, get this, 34 pairs on average, that's €6664, or £5945.  Crikey.

Back on planet reality, it would look as though the survey only addressed readers of two Conde Nast mags, so cum grano salis, as the ancients had it.   

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A brief test - do you have a soul?

A recently discovered G*oldman Sachs research paper on Korea:

"A united Korea - combining Asia’s fourth biggest economy with one of its poorest - could surpass that of Germany or Japan in economic might in the next 30-40 years, US investment bank Goldman Sachs said Tuesday".

Good new, yes?

And then this:

Many analysts warn the South’s rise to an economic powerhouse in the region could be undone by the burden of absorbing its neighbor, whose per capita income is about 5 percent the size.
But Goldman Sachs said it could be affordable by having the appropriate policies and by following the China/Hong Kong reunification model which allows two political and economic systems to co-exist, with limited inter-Korean migration.

If, like me, that leaves you holding back The Rage, I'm giving out A's.  If it leaves you anywhere on a continuum of rage to uneasiness, I'm awarding a pass grade, and may even e-mail out certificates declaring that the test taker possesses a soul.

Should you think, yup, great idea, you should be quite happy in the 9th circle of Hell, come The Reckoning.

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Has David Cameron become the Nameless One for Labour?

Listening to 'Today' this morning, I was struck by Harriet Harman's use of language - every time she had the opportunity to say 'David Cameron' she either used 'the Leader of the Conservative Party' or 'he'.

Clearly 'the Leader of the House' would have been heavily briefed ahead of her chat with Humphries, so I would suggest that it is now Labour's comms policy not to refer to Cameron by name, the reckoning being that the battle against Cameron the man is lost, and the better approach is, so to speak, to smear him as 'a Conservative'.  Either that, or he strikes such terror into them that they cannot bear to mention him by name.

Further documentation of outbreaks of this would be most welcome.

(This underwent alpha testing as a tweet, but I could not get it down to 140 characters)

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The 1959 Hansard trawl - featuring planes and automobiles, if not trains. And an early call to clean up politics.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Still very little happening in 1909, so its this modern-ish stuff again.

The delights of Hungary under the Red Wheel:

Sir T. Moore  asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 30 identifiable young Hungarians, aged 18 years, have recently been shot in Hungary by order of the Hungarian Government, and that about 100 other youths are due to be shot when they reach the age of 18 years, because of the fact that they are alleged to have taken part in the Hungarian uprising in 1956, when they were 15 years of age or under; and if he will bring this matter to the notice of the United Nations Special Commissioner on Hungary without delay so that some action may be taken to prevent any further executions.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd There have been numerous disturbing reports in recent months of executions in Hungary. I have no confirmation of the alleged executions to which my hon. Friend refers.

Pretty horrendous, frankly.  Anyway, a picture:

Those French nuclear tests.  Again

Mr. Frank Allaun asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the British representative at the United Nations voted against a motion requesting France to refrain from carrying out nuclear test explosions.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd The United Kingdom voted against the draft resolution put forward by certain Afro-Asian countries because it was based on the assumption—which we consider to be incorrect—that the proposed French tests would endanger health in other countries, and because we considered that our draft resolution was more realistic and constructive.

I'm sure that radioactive sand floating around the Sahara and the Sahel was a positive boon.

Anyway, the UN vote - one to savour:

The voting on the resolution tabled by certain Afro-Asian delegations was as follows: The voting on the resolution tabled by certain Afro-Asian delegations was as follows: In favour: United Arab Republic, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Burma, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Cambodia, Canada, Ceylon, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, Federation of Malaya, Finland, Ghana, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Roumania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Sweden, Tunisia, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. 

Against: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Union of South Africa. 

Abstaining: Australia, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, Greece, Laos. Mexico, Paraguay, Thailand, Turkey.:

Evidence that at least one politician had heard of the Falklands before 1982:

Sir A. Hurd (father of Douglas, grandfather of Nick)  asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent Antarctic treaty to ensure the peace of the area; and what steps he has taken to ensure that British sovereignty in the Falkland Islands and the Falkland Island Dependencies is in no way compromised.Mr. Selwyn Lloyd Negotiations for an Antarctic treaty are still going on and a statement at this stage would be premature.

Our friends the Saudis:

Mr Selwyn-Lloyd The Saudi Arabian Government broke off diplomatic relations on 6th November, 1956, giving as their reason the Suez conflict. There are no obstacles on the side of Her Majesty's Government to the resumption of diplomatic relations, and the Saudi Arabian Government have been so informed for a long time past.

Arms to Cuba:

Mr. Wyatt  asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what agreement has now been reached with the Cuban Government as to the supply of military aircraft and other weapons.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd No agreement has been reached with the Cuban Government in regard to the supply of military aircraft or other weapons. The Cuban Government have asked the Hawker Aircraft Company to exchange the seventeen Sea-Fury aircraft now owned by Cuba for an equivalent number of Hawker Hunters. Approval of the necessary export licence is under consideration.

Mr. Wyatt Is the Government's reluctance to supply the Cuban Government with military aircraft due to pressure from America? Is the Minister aware that Her Majesty's Government's reluctance to give the new Cuban Government weapons compares very unfavourably in the Cuban mind with the alacrity with which they gave the old régime weapons?

Here's my favourite picture of a Sea Fury, again:

And here's a Hawker Hunter:

They were phased out of front line use by the RAF in 1971.  The Lebanese Air Force still uses them, apparently.

A man before his time, shall we say:

Mr. Mellish Without much hope, I beg to give notice that on Friday, 4th December, I shall call attention to the need for legislation to ensure that all political parties publish their accounts annually, showing all sources of income and expenditure, and move a Resolution.

Early signs of the chav menace?

Mr. Gough asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make a statement on the youth problem as it affects new towns; and if he will set up an appropriate committee to investigate and report upon the special problems that exist in these communities.  

Apparently not:

Mr. P. Thomas In the new towns, young people form a smaller part of the working population and, in general, their employment prospects compare favourably with many other areas over the next year or two. The "bulge" of school leavers will not reach its peak in the new towns until sometime after 1962—the peak year for the country as a whole; it will be proportionately larger and will persist for some years.

However, some very chavvy behaviour:

EARL HOWE [...] To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their attention has been drawn to the potential danger to drivers using M.1 from objects thrown from the many bridges over the motorway; and, if so, what steps they propose to take to abate the nuisance.

My Lords, there have been a few reports of people throwing objects from bridges on to the motorway. It is difficult to visualise any physical alteration to the bridges or any system of police supervision capable of preventing altogether this dangerous nuisance, which is of course an offence. It seems likely that the nuisance will diminish or disappear when the motorway is no longer a novelty. 
And a splendidly hand off attitude to speed:
LORD HAWKE My Lords, has Her Majesty's Government's attention been called to the fact that the motorway is apparently being used by cars going at 120 or more miles an hour; and does this not constitute a danger to other users of the motorway should there be any mechanical or tyre failure at that speed?

LORD CHESHAM   My Lords, speed is relatively a dangerous thing in any motor car. A very small motor car with a top speed of 70 miles an hour doing 69 miles an hour is just as capable of creating havoc as a car built for the purpose of doing 120 miles an hour. There are, so far as I am aware, no particular widespread complaints of very excessive speeds. There no doubt have been individual instances. I would agree, certainly, that if you are going to drive a car fast you have to know how to. But unless and until there seems to be a real problem—and my right honourable friend and everyone concerned will be watching for everything—I do not think there is any more to be done.

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Is Tony Soprano a Gaullist, or Homer Simpson a Trot?

I ask, because some French wags have set up a site whereby one can match various television characters to the French political allegiance one thinks that they might have.

I will admit to not having anything like enough knowledge to venture opinions on most of them - not that that usually stops me.  FWIW, I have Tony pegged as a Gaullist and Homer as a Socialist.  I also reckoned that the cast of Friends are all Democrats, so I've made them MoDem supporters

Anyway, here's the voting form.

Given that the form is on google docs, I *might* have a go at knocking up something similar.  As and when the results are published I'll post about them, if I remember.

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Fun with statistics

I present the rather diverting worldometers.info site:

It has running tallies for various other indicators including the number of cigarettes smoked today, suicides this year and computers sold.  I do not believe the last three are connected.

Anyway, enjoy.


And today is...

...as I'm sure everybody has noticed, European Antibiotics Awareness Day.


It is also Morrocan Independence Day, so that's two observances for the price of one. 

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The 1959 Hansard trawl - featuring the travails of Sir Keith Joseph, the miracle of the water pump and the wit of George Thomas

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Some how I do not associate the sainted and much missed Sir Keith Joseph with this sort of thing:

Mr. Iremonger asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he is aware that the purposes and operation of the Clean Air Act are being thwarted by the shortage of smokeless fuels in Greater London; and if he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph No, Sir. My right hon. Friend has no doubt that there will be ample supplies of good smokeless fuels to permit the creation of many more smoke control areas in Greater London.

It would be unfair not to wheel out the old story about SKJ when out and about remarking to Sir Peter Scott or somesuch:  "But how do the birds know it's a bird sanctuary?"

Still, it got worse for him:
Mr. Dodds asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what progress he has made in reducing the pollution of the River Thames and the stench from it in the vicinity of Erith...    

Mr. Dodds Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that the stench largely arises from untreated sewage? I asked whether it will be treated next year.

Sir K. Joseph  I realise that, but the stench is not only from untreated sewage. I was talking about the problem of dealing with the stench.

Who'd be a minister, eh readers?

A marginally more glamorous topic:

Mr M Stewart Are there any statistics such as appeared in the Report of the Litter Committee to show whether less litter is being dropped, because I take it that what we want is not necessarily more prosecutions but less litter? 

I bet they the 'Great and the Good were queuing round the block to join that one. 

The clearly vexed issue of the Ty'n-y-Coed Hotel, Capel Curig (Annexe)

M r. T. W. Jones asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs on what grounds he decided to allow the annexe of the Ty'n-y-Coed Hotel, Capel Curig, 956 to be registered as a club in spite of the objections of all the local authorities concerned; and whether he will now reconsider his decision, in view of the concern expressed by all shades of public opinion.

And gearing up to enjoy himself, the Min of H & LG & WA:

Mr. H. Brooke The sole issue which came before me was a planning appeal to decide whether or not planning permission might be given for the conversion of one room in the annexe to a hotel for the purposes of a club. On consideration, it appeared to me that there were no adequate planning reasons for refusing permission, and therefore I allowed the appeal. When an appeal decision has been given the law makes no provision for then altering or withdrawing it, nor in this case would I see any ground for doing so.   I have received a number of protests not from all shades of public opinion but from temperance and religious organisations and their members.
And the man who would be one of the finer Speakers of modern times must have consulted widely:

Mr. Thomas Is the Minister aware that he could not have taken a decision more completely out of harmony with the feeling of the Welsh people? Is he aware that he has the united hostility of the Welsh people to this decision which is regarded as his back-door way of beginning Sunday opening in Wales?  
 Not quite as foolish as claiming to represent the entire working classs, but still a pretty bold claim.

Feel the sarcasm:

Mr. Chetwynd In this twentieth century, has the right hon. Gentleman not heard of such things as pumps which make water go uphill if necessary? Is it not ridiculous that we can have one authority with ample supplies while a neighbouring authority in the next basin is facing drought? Is not something more urgent needed than the words of the Government today?

Right, pop quiz:

What is, perhaps, the most famous site in the British Commonwealth?

Piccadilly Circus reckoned Kenneth Robinson, noting "Does the Minister appreciate the widespread dismay that has greeted this vulgar and unimaginative proposal for the development of what is, perhaps, the most famous site in the British Commonwealth?"

The reference to 'the development proposals for the northern sector of Piccadilly Circus' do not make it entirely clear whether it is the now site of the Trocadero or that of the all night Boots above which is a blaze of lights.

A probably not especially interesting personal sidetrack:

Mr. Donnelly asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what steps he has taken to provide employment in the Milford Haven area when the present construction work on the Esso and BP sites comes to an end in 1960.

Mr. H. Brooke The Esso and B.P. installations will themselves provide a considerable amount of permanent employment

Like my father, God rest his soul, and my mother. 

Some wit from George Thomas:

Is the Minister aware that he has a very bad name in Wales—[An HON. MEMBER: "What is it?"] Mr. Speaker, you would rule me out of order if I described it.

The things they say:

Mr. Hale asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is aware that Mrs. Schofield of Clackwell Street, Rochdale Road, Oldham, is living in a house of one room and scullery downstairs with no fireplace, holes in the floor and holes in the roof; and what steps he proposes to take to safeguard the health of this household.

Mr. H. Brooke  I was not aware of this case because no one had brought it to my knowledge.

Indeed, Mr Brook, indeed.

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One for the Castro fan club

Via The Miami Herald:

"a new poll indicat[es] that more than four out of five Cubans surveyed inside the country are unhappy with its direction.  The survey, conducted by the International Republican Institute, also found that one in five Cubans named food scarcity as their biggest worry, and 82 percent said life in Cuba was going ``so-so, badly or very badly.'' That was up slightly from 80 percent in November 2008, the last time the study was conducted....The poll had to be conducted surreptitiously on the island, and was done by a Latin American polling firm that the institute won't name, citing the ability of the firm to keep working in Cuba. The interviews with 432 Cuban adults, ages 18 and over, were conducted face-to-face from July 4 to Aug. 7 in 12 Cuban provinces. The poll carries a margin of error of 5 percentage points...

There was little unanimity on the question of how to improve Cuba's economy: 20 percent suggested changing the political system; 15 percent cited ending the practice of requiring two forms of currency; and 10 percent said changing the economic system.
The survey also indicated that, if given the chance, 75 percent of those surveyed would vote for democracy -- an increase from 63 percent in November 2008. Support is highest among those 40 to 49 years old, with 82 percent saying they'd vote for a democracy. Of those 60 and older, 64 percent said they'd vote for democracy -- an increase of nearly 20 percentage points from November 2008.
Given that answering edgy poll questions honestly in a police state is rather riskier than in these parts, it is safe to assume that these results underplay the real sentiments of the unfortunate Cuban people.

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Who's afraid of Pork Death? American liberals, that's who.

From Zogby.

"In a recent nationwide Zogby Interactive survey, respondents were asked, “Have you already or do you plan to be vaccinated against the H1N1 swine flu virus this year?” About 30% of the sample chose “I have already been vaccinated” or “Yes, I plan to be vaccinated.” A majority (62%) of the sample claimed to have no plan to be vaccinated. Another 8% chose “not sure.”
When the results are broken down by ideology, we find that liberals are most likely to plan on receiving the vaccine. About 48% of liberals are either already vaccinated or plan to be vaccinated, compared to 36% of moderates and 18% of conservatives and libertarians".

Intriguing to note that my ideological confreres are the most stoic / irresponsible / whatever you want to call it. 


Swedes trying to be hip and not quite pulling it off...

This, from the website of the Swedish EU Presidency, doubtless a site we all refer to multiple times daily:

In other words, he was born in 1970.  Take your pic of other 1970 births here

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I don't believe for one minute that this is authentic...

but it is still funny:

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The 1909 Hansard Trawl - featuring one Mohandas Ghandi and fasting prisoners

Monday, November 16, 2009

"LORD AMPTHILL rose to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies what had been the result of his negotiations in regard to the question of British Indians in the Transvaal and to move for Papers...I will not take up time by repeating the past history of the question. I will begin with a period of four months ago, when the occasion of the discussion of the South African Constitution Bill raised hopes that this question—this unhappy question—which has reflected no credit on the Colony and no credit on the Imperial Government, which has been fraught with such misery to the British Indians in the Transvaal, would at last be settled; that there would be some generous concession on the part of the Colony, inspired, perhaps, by the Imperial Government, which would enable the British Indians to participate in the general rejoicing over the Union of South Africa. With these hopes in mind two Indian gentlemen, Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Hajee Habib, arrived as delegates from the British Indian community in the Transvaal on the 10th of July. They stated their case to the responsible authorities in this country, they refrained from any sort or kind of public agitation, and they waited patiently in the hope that their expectation would be fulfilled....
I've checked.  It was him.

...The delegates, who had all this while maintained an admirable patience and self-restraint, made a dignified and temperate statement to the Press and left the country. Mr. Gandhi, the principal of them, is going back to the Transvaal probably to be clapped once more into gaol and treated as a common criminal. That, my Lords, is the recent history of 592 the question, and I think the time has come when we have a right to know what has actually passed between the Imperial Government and the Colonial Government....

The manner which the Colonial Government have chosen for depriving them of this right—a right which I must again remind your Lordships exists in every other part of the Empire and always has existed—is that of classing them as prohibited immigrants; that is to say, classing them with the outcast and the scum of humanity I from every other nation. What it amounts to is this. During the past three years, and while the Imperial Government has been under the direction of the Liberal Party, a colour bar has been instituted in South Africa—a colour bar such as never before existed in the history of the British Empire. While the Bill for the Union of South Africa was under discussion in both Houses of Parliament the leaders of all Parties protested in the most solemn and emphatic manner against a provision instituting a colour bar. That provision was a disqualification from future political rights. But the colour bar which has been instituted in the Transvaal is far more serious, for it amounts to a deprivation of rights which have always existed—not a deprivation of political rights but a deprivation of social rights, of the ordinary rights of the subjects of His Majesty. It is a law declaring all Indians—never mind what their status or their education—unfit even to enter the Colony, because it classes them with prohibited immigrants and places them in an inferior position to the people of any other non-Asiatic nation.

Good stirring stuff, and there's more:

Will none of your Lordships take up the question—take it out of my feeble hands—and press it as you would press any question which concerns the plighted words of our Statesmen, the honour of our race, and the contentment of the people of India. I beg to move.
Moved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty for Papers relating to the negotiations in regard to the question of British Indians in the Transvaal.—(Lord Ampthill.)

Sticking with India...


My Lords, I rise to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, if he has not already done so, he will make a representation to the Government of the Transvaal on the hardship inflicted on Mahomedan political prisoners by the prison authorities making no concession during the Fast of Ramadhân in respect of their meals. This deals with only one small feature of the larger question so ably presented to your Lordships by my noble friend on my right, but it is important as it affects the religious scruples of our Mahomedan fellow- 600 subjects in India. As your Lordships are aware, the Fast of Ramadhân is a very important and stringent Fast and must be observed. No food or drop of water must pass the lips of a Mahomedan from sunrise to sundown, the only exemptions being cases of sickness or when a man is travelling. What Mahomedan political prisoners complain of is that the prison authorities make no concession to them during the Fast of Ramadhân in respect of their meals. No food is allowed to be given to them at special times which would enable them the better to stand the rigours of the Fast. They ask, if food cannot be so supplied by the prison authorities, whether their friends can be allowed to bring it in to them. I think it is very hard that there should not be greater humanity displayed towards those who are strictly political prisoners.

A pretty liberal set of sentiments for 1909.

THE EARL OF CROMER My Lords, what with Suffragettes in this country who will not eat at all and Mahomedans who will only eat at certain hours, it is pretty clear that the question of feeding prisoners is a rather difficult one. I am not familiar with the details of this question, and I cannot state offhand what was the practice in Egypt where there were a few political prisoners; but I should like to testify to the extraordinary importance that Mahomedans generally attach to this matter. The Fast of Ramadhân is, perhaps, one of the most important features of the Mahomedan religion, and I cannot help thinking that the refusal of this concession would not only affect the prisoners themselves, but would be calculated to have a bad influence on the opinions of Mahomedans generally.

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The DPRK update, live and direct from the UN.

"While near-consensus had been reached on many issues that had stymied reform of the Security Council for years, questions about exactly how to expand the 15‑member body in a way that guaranteed its effectiveness remained a stubborn snag in building on progress, General Assembly delegates said today as they wrapped up their two-day joint debate on those and other security matters".

And where, one might think, would there be scope for an epic Japano-Korean bust up there?

Oh but there was.... And the DPRK started it:

SIN SON HO (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said although Security Council reform had been on the Assembly’s agenda for 15 years, discussions continued spinning with no results.  No progress was achieved with regard to adequate representation of developing countries within the body, and recently specific countries abused it for political purposes by forcing it to unlawfully deal with issues beyond its mandate.  That had led the international community to discredit the Council....Continuing, he said non-aligned and other developing countries, including Africans, which constituted the overwhelming majority of Membership, needed to be adequately represented on the Security Council.  Japan, however, should never be granted a seat, since “it revives militaristic ambition by persistently denying the history of aggression, instead of recognizing and repairing its crime-woven past.”  Any discussions on Japan’s status based on its contribution to United Nations activities were a dangerous move and a shame of the international community.  This would only instigate Japan’s unaccomplished ambition for realizing the “Great Asia Common Prosperity Sphere.”

The Japanese did not like that:

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Japan said his comments were related to the comments made earlier by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  It was regrettable that Japan had to respond to such comments when other delegations were seriously engaged in the debate of today’s topics.  Japan firmly believed that the qualifications of a given country for permanent membership in the Council should be based on that country’s real contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security.  Japan was committed to peace and had been trying its best to live up to this standard.

Regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea delegate’s reference to the “unfortunate past”, Japan could not accept those references by that delegation because Japan had been facing up to its past with sincerity and consistency since the end of World War II.  Japan had been consistently dedicating itself for more than 60 years to promoting international peace and prosperity and demonstrating respect for democracy and human rights.

And the DPRK did not like that:

Responding, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said Japan was not qualified for a permanent seat in the Security Council. In order to clarify the issue, he said Japan had killed one million Koreans, and provided “comfort women” for the Japanese army.  While Japan said that it had done all it could to rectify that situation, Japan used the word “apology” only when it felt it needed to redress the political situation. In addition, he said Japanese officials explained away the incidents by saying that comfort women were sold by their parents and they were prostitutes. He called those “inhumane and insane remarks.”

Fearing their crimes would be revealed, he said the Japanese had destroyed evidence and deleted facts from school textbooks under official connivance of the Government.  Well known political figures had honoured war criminals and human slaughter.  Such ceremony was emblematic of Japan’s “blood stained past crimes.” Most victims of sex slavery still lived in suffering.  He added that Japanese denials of its criminal history meant it could repeat its crimes and potentially attempt another “old fashioned mission for a Great Asian Prosperity Sphere.”  He said that it wasn’t the money that counted, but the sincere manner that one conducted itself as a Member State of the United Nations.

And the Japanese did not like that:

Responding, the representative of Japan strongly asserted that his country would not accept “baseless allegations” levelled by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and described those allegations as being “full of foul language”.  He said it was reprehensible that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea representative could use the forum of the General Assembly as a platform to direct unsubstantiated allegations against his country. 

And the DPRK returned serve....

Responding, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation had raised the subject during the debate on Council reform because it had wanted to clarify the issue.  Japan had destroyed the strategic balance of the region and refused to apologize for its past crimes.  It had joined the United States system of the balance of power.  “Who was the agent that threatened the peace and stability of the region?” he asked. Japan had used outer space for military purposes.  It was worth noting that Japan had persisted in its ill-minded behaviour by condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea satellite launch in April.  Japan had knocked at the door of the Council to adopt a resolution against his country.   Japan was not in a right position to blame any other countries.  Japan had committed crimes of the past and the present.

A bid for a permanent council seat did not match with Japan’s true picture.  It was more advisable that Japan should do more to liquidate its bloody past and act accordingly. So the issue would never be debated at the Assembly.

Whereupon the Japanese, and presumably everybody else, ran out of patience.

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Politicians saying 'no' to drugs

Friday, November 13, 2009
In a development likely to terrify elected representatives everywhere,Greenlandic MPs have been debating mandatory drugs testing for MPs.

"Opposition MP Doris Jakobsen introduced the bill to parliament this week and is due to be debated in parliament today. The administration, however, has announced that it would not support testing that singled out an individual group."We're against the idea of forced or voluntary testing, unless it would help the police solve a case," the administration wrote in its reply to the proposal". 
Must say I would not expect there to be much of a narcotic scene in Godthåb and beyond, given the lack of opportunities for growing the key plants and the cost of getting good to market as it were.  However, this suggests that GL has a higher level of cocaine use than France.  Unexpected.

Anyway, I am inclined to agree with the Greenlandic government on this one, although heaven knows how many foolish laws would not have been passed if our parliamentarians were only allowed to vote after passing a breathalyser test.  Ms Jakobsen has a web presence here, although given that my Greenlandic is a bit rusty, the only word I understood was Tae Kwon Do.  Presumably she can handle herself.   

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Bizarre criminal act o' the day

From, for a change, Germany.  Lifted from Der Spiegel.

"Until two weeks ago no one had heard of the Bewegung Morgenlicht. But now, they have thrust themselves onto the police's radar with a number of attacks on banks in Frankfurt.

Two Saturdays ago, militants threw a petrol-soaked cloth into a Dresdner Bank foyer, setting fire to a cash machine. Just 24 hours later, a machine belonging to Deutsche Bank was torched in another part of the city. Total damages amounted to €110,000 ($165,000)..the group explained the second attack on Deutsche Bank as an attempt to spur on "a thorough reform of the economy."

With the possible exception of taking the main brodcasters off air, I am struggling to think of anything more likely to terrify the populace in these parts than trashing cash dispensers.

In a further curious development, the German authorities seem to think that they can break down types of criminality by political allegiance:

"The arson attacks in Frankfurt follow a recent rise in left-wing crime in Berlin. A total of 190 cars have now been torched on the streets of the German capital this year alone. According to a government report into leftist violence, released on Wednesday, leftwing groups were, on average, charged with around twice as many criminal acts than their right-wing counterparts over the past six years".

I think this political taxonomy of criminals is an excellent idea, and I look forward to seeing it used in these parts.

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A couple of recent spots

This, which would appear to be making mock of illiterate vegetarians:

And this, which is just alarming:

There's a drink in it for anyone who can name both venues.


Caption time fun with Kim Jong Il.

Our man in Gib, the splendid All Seeing Eye, has been kind enough to let me have first crack at this:



Survey o' the day

Thursday, November 12, 2009
Yes, it is another French one.  Only over there do newspapers think it worth forking out the readies to pollsters to find out what the Plain People of France think about the chances of Les Bleus qualifying for the World Cup. And hurrah, there's demographic detail.

Anyway, the big one - 63% think they can beat our Hibernian neighbours.  Having checked my favourite bookmaker, France are 6/4 and the RoI 9/4.  So, there is a fairly pessimistic 23%, plus 14 don't knows / don't cares.  (Given the odious fix that FIFA cooked up in seeding countries, I am a bit torn between our two neighbours, as the Irish have been shafted, but then again my Gallic connections are stronger).  

However, onwards:

25-29 year olds are the most optimistic at 78%, with the next age cohort up (30-39) the gloomiest  - 35% think France will stuff it.  Roughly speaking, the higher the respondent's level of ediucation, the more pessimistic they are.  As to politics, it is the Trots who /believe/ - 81%.  Gaullists take the opposite approach - 25% think that Irish eyes will be smiling.  But the really odd bit is the geographical breakdown, based on some spectacularly misshapen, ill-named and ahistoric regions used by pollsters.  Which look like this:

The South East and South West regions have 70% thinking France can do it, compared to 48% in the Western Paris Basin. I told you the names were hateful, didn't I?.  WPB could also be described as the regions of Normandy and Centre.  Maine/Touraine is my preference for the latter.  Elsewhere, 20% of those in the West don't know / don't care, compared to 5% in Gtr Paris.

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'Google a tragedy for young people' - says noted semiotician

That got your attention, didn't it?

Anyway, Umberto Eco has been grilled by Der Spiegel, and this quote was just dying to be taken out of context.  So I have taken the opportunity:

SPIEGEL: But you also said that lists can establish order. So, do both order and anarchy apply? That would make the Internet, and the lists that the search engine Google creates, perfect for you.
Eco: Yes, in the case of Google, both things do converge. Google makes a list, but the minute I look at my Google-generated list, it has already changed. These lists can be dangerous -- not for old people like me, who have acquired their knowledge in another way, but for young people, for whom Google is a tragedy. Schools ought to teach the high art of how to be discriminating.


The 1959 Hansard trawl - including nukes, more nukes and advice for Britons in Iraq.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
They are being a bit quiet back in 1909, alas.


Mr. Swingler  asked the Minister of Defence whether it is still the Government's policy, as his predecessor stated in reply to Questions by the hon. Members for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) and Newcastle-under-Lyme on 11th February, 1959, to resort to nuclear weapons first in case of an attack with conventional arms on a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, South-East Asia Treaty Organisation, or the Central Treaty Organisation.

Mr. Watkinson The Government's policy remains as stated in the Annual Defence White Papers and in Parliamentary debates.

Mr. Swingler In view of the fact that criticism of this doctrine has now spread to general officers holding very important posts, who have described this policy as being one of insanity, will not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the fact that no defence policy can be based on a threat to commit suicide? As this is a threat to initiate nuclear war, involving suicide for the British people, will he not turn his mind to the idea of producing a defence policy?

Mr. Strachey  Does not the new Minister of Defence agree that this is a very serious matter, as his Answer means that he is sticking to paragraph 12 of the 1958 White Paper, which suggests that the very first reaction to a conventional move by the enemy is "a massive nuclear bombardment of the sources of power in Russia " without any attempt to meet the attack by conventional means? Is the right hon. Gentleman sticking to that quite incredible position?

Mr. Watkinson  It is always very easy to quote sentences out of their context. The right hon. Gentleman's quotation is part of a sentence of paragraph 12 of the White Paper, which starts by saying "In fact, the strategy of N.A.T.O. is based on the frank recognition that …"


Mr. Watkinson I know that after his long experience in my present office the right hon. Gentleman will not disagree with me when I say that the purpose of the deterrent is to try to stop war by deterring people. Unless the deterrent is such that it does deter, it does not fulfil its purpose.

One might note that we didn't nuke India over any of the sundry Indo-Pakistan wars, and rather more unexpectedly, Cento was only dissolved in '79.  Probably just as well, as what would we have done when Iran/Iraq kicked off?

And again:

Mr. Grimond  asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery.

Mr. Watkinson  I have no statement to make at present.


A master class in weaselling:

Mr. Wade  asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why instructions were given to the representative of Her Majesty's Government at the General Assembly of the United Nations to abstain on the vote on the resolution expressing grave concern over the events in Tibet and respect for the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people and for their distinctive cultural and religious life.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. John Profumo)  The United Kingdom representative at the United Nations abstained on the resolution on the question of Tibet. But I should like to make it clear that our abstention in no way implied any diminution in our sympathy with the Tibetan people or in our feelings about recent events in Tibet. Speaking in the general debate in the Assembly on 17th September, my right hon. and learned Friend said that we had been greatly grieved to hear accounts of the massive repression by Communist China, of the suppression of national liberties and of ruthless assaults upon the historic life of a sturdy and friendly people.

Shame! Shame!

And I find myself in agreement with Fenner Brockway, not something I ever expected to write:

Mr. Brockway While no one would wish to exacerbate the relations between India and China at this moment, is the hon. Gentleman aware that many of us desire to see the independence of Tibet realised and the retention of its very distinctive personality?

Hear hear.

Spain and Gib:

Mr. Dodds asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress has been made in the proposal to abolish visas between Spain and all British territories.

Mr. Profumo  We have made proposals to the Spanish Government, who have not yet replied.

Mr. Dodds Will the Minister bear in mind that, in referring to all British territories in the Question, I include Gibraltar? In view of the shabby way in which Spain has treated the Gibraltarians for years, can we have an assurance that in any settlement the Government will not leave out Gibraltar?

Mr. Profumo  I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there could be no question of our concluding a visa abolition agreement which does not also extend to any British Colony which wishes to be associated with it.


And yet more nukes:

Mr. Shinwell  asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent United Kingdom representatives in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation agreed to the proposal to provide West Germany with atomic tactical weapons and guided missiles.

Mr. Profumo  As my right hon. and learned Friend explained in his reply to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) on 2nd December, 1958, this was a decision of the North Atlantic 391 Council at ministerial level, in which my right hon. and learned Friend of course participated without reserve.

Mr. Shinwell  Is this action wise? Does the hon. Gentleman understand that if this process continues, apart from Soviet Russia, Western Germany will be the strongest military nation in Europe and armed precisely with those weapons which it was originally intended Western Germany should never possess? What has caused this change of front and this partiality to Western Germany all of a sudden?

I suppose he had a point, and WW2 was still pretty fresh in the mind, I would think.

And today's gem:

Mr. F. Noel-Baker asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what advice Her Majesty's Ambassador has given British residents in Iraq in view of the situation in that country; and if he will make a statement.

Get on the first plane out...

Somebody understood De Gaulle:

Mr. Osborne Does not my hon. Friend agree that if we were to try publicly to rebuke President de Gaulle for what he is trying to do we would only make him more obstinate and determined to [test nuclear weapons]?

Sounds about right, doesn't it?

And from the same question, this:

Mr. Bellenger Would you, Mr. Speaker, do your best to discourage Ministers from giving simple explanations?

Mr. Speaker   I have enough on my plate without trying to do that.

I can well believe it.

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At the risk of sliding into sentimentality....

If not mawkishness, I hope.

The 18-button mouse. Not a joke, apparently

This is the OOmouse, or Open Office mouse, designed for use with MS Office competitor Open Office.  Yours for $74.99 when it ships, and probably the same price in sterling, and it isn't even cordless.

My current mouse has three novelty buttons plus the usuals and a click wheel, and I cannot recall when I last used any of the extra functionality.