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The things they make in Pyongyang, or headline o' the day

Friday, July 31, 2009
From the usual place:



Wonder which fabric they use?

Meanwhile, the international economic order has been denounced
:

"The present unfair international economic order is a product of colonialism pursued by imperialism and a lever for making the Western monopolies corpulent".

Great mixed metaphor there.

And "The "liberalization" of trade and "globalization" of economy touted by the Western powers are nothing but a cynical ploy to turn developing countries into neo-colonies in a bid to maintain and strengthen the present old and unfair international economic order".

Uh-huh. Just think how badly the DPRK's sharer of the Korean pensinsula has done out of it...

Inverted commas are all the rage at the KCNA today:

"The Japanese imperialists launched "punitive" operations on a large scale in an attempt to put down the newly established Chechangzi guerilla zone and, at the same time, "sealed off" the zone to starve the people to death".

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Hansard 1909, featuring the Daily Mail's donation of a shed and some rather poor predictions about the future of aviation

I may have unearthed a horror unleashed by us on our Hibernian neighbours - The Tuberculosis Act (Ireland) 1909:

Captain CRAIG asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he can state the numbers of local authorities which have put in force The Tuberculosis (Ireland) Act, 1908?


Mr. CHERRY As has already been pointed out to the hon. Member in reply to the question asked by him on 9th July, Part 1 of the Act alone requires the formality of adoption. Three sanitary authorities have up to the present 1558 passed the necessary resolutions subject to the approval of the county council in each case. A number of the sanitary authorities have availed themselves of the various powers contained in Part III. of the Act.

Facetiousness aside, I prefer the terms consumption, especially when it allows the use of 'consumptive'.

An outrage crying out for a dose of corrective dharma?

Mr. ALDEN (Lib) asked why the Buddhist registrar has been removed from the hall of the Buddhist Theosophical Society in Colombo, although that society has had the benefit of his presence since the office was created in 1888, thus depriving the representative of the Buddhist community, which supports three colleges and over 250 schools, of the privilege of marriage in their own hall, although all Christian sects are granted this privilege?

The UNDER-SECRETARY for the COLONIES (Colonel Seely) My hon. Friend is mistaken in supposing that the Buddhist Theosophical Society represents the whole of the Buddhist community of Ceylon. The number of members of the society in Ceylon is only 132. It is not the only Buddhist society in the island, and the great mass of Buddhists belong to no 1554 society. The Government has required the removal of the registrar's office from the hall of this society because its presence there tended to identify the registrar too closely with this particular society.

Further troubles in Ulster:

MR Devlin"...whether he is aware that on the 11th July a procession of Orangemen, wearing regalia, marched under police protection through an almost exclusively Catholic portion of Portadown to and from a church in the neighbourhood, although the ordinary and direct road to and from the church is much shorter; whether he is aware that on the 13th July Orange drumming parties were allowed to parade through the Catholic district in a provoking manner, cursing the Pope and playing party tunes..."

Mr Cherry "...It appears that one band played a party tune, but the police did not hear anyone curse the Pope".

Captain CRAIG Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that Portadown is a most peaceful neighbourhood, and that the people live in peace and harmony all the year round?

Mr. CHERRY That is the general rule I believe. Portadown is very peaceful, but there are two occasions, 12th July and 15th August, which are usually exceptions.

Mr. CONOR O'KELLY Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman deny that the Union Jack is a party emblem?

Mr. CHERRY I cannot see how the Union Jack can be considered a party emblem, though it may possibly be turned into a party emblem.


Quite possible, I would think.

Naval and military aeronautics:

"That a sum not exceeding £36,464, including a supplementary sum of £6,500,. be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st clay of March, 1910, for sundry grants in aid of scientific investigation".

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Haldane)

"...Great strides are being made, in the preparation of machines, but it is not enough to make machines that will fly, whether dirigibles or aeroplanes. They must be machines which can be made available for the purposes of war, and the difficulties which surround us are still so great that progress can only be made after exact and careful study and by the adaptation of inventions as they are brought forward to the peculiar conditions which must be fulfilled if effectiveness in war is to be secured...The remarkable events of the last few days—M. Blériot crossing the Channel, and other things that have been accomplished in the United States, and elsewhere—all point to this, that at some time hereafter the aeroplane will be an instrument which will be capable of effecting in all probability great results...Flying machines, whatever forms they take, are very simple machines, and you cannot keep secret very long any advance that has been made in their construction....in this country we have not made the amount of initial progress that has been made in Germany, France and, perhaps, in the-United States. But I reflect that much the same thing was true of submarines. To-day, by our scientific procedure and by the work that has been done in the Admiralty, we stand, it is no exaggeration to say, at the head of the world as regards submarines. Then again, in motor cars also we were behind. I am no expert in motor cars, but I know enough to have a strong impression that if we are not up to the best Continental countries in every way, we are getting very near it in the construction of motor cars....


Out of context quote of the day:

The "Daily Mail," working in conjunction with the Parliamentary Committee, have made the generous offer of a shed. The War Office has provided, with the assistance of the London County Council, a site at Wormwood Scrubbs, and the shed is in the course of rapid construction.


(In actual fact an airship hanger)

Back at the plot:

"There never will be, as far as I can see, any very large private ownership of these machines. No doubt, country gentlemen will hereafter have these aeroplanes, and have pleasant aeroplane parties and weekends; but when you come to dirigibles, rigid and unrigid, I fancy very few people will possess dirigibles.

Arthur Lee (Not the one who gave us 'Forever Changes') I believe this is absolutely the first occasion upon which it has ever been debated in the history of Parliament. I hope, therefore, that Members of this House will forgive those of us who have not a very wide and deep experience on the subject. I am reminded of a remark which was made by the present Lord Chamberlain some years back when he announced to an electrified House that he was not an agricultural labourer, and I feel bound to admit on this occasion that I am not a practical aeronautist....meanwhile, while these investigations are being carried on, men are actually flying about in other countries, and Frenchmen are landing like migratory birds upon our shores...Whilst the Admiralty are concentrating, the War Office, according to the right hon. Gentleman, are experimenting, and they have begun by ordering a gas bag".

Making oneself a hostage to fortune:

Mr. ARTHUR LEE I said these machines might be used for transport in a limited sense, but they could not be used for transport of large bodies or of stores for the purpose of invading this country.

Sir GILBERT PARKER Ordinary commonsense tells us that such machines will probably never be used for the carrying of large bodies of troops and ammunition.


And some slightly off-topic input from my new hero:

Mr Harold Cox (Lib) I challenge the hon. Baronet to point to a single invention that the Government has ever made. Did the Government invent telephones? When the telephone was first invented the Post Office sent over an agent to America to investigate it, and he came back with the report that it was a harmless toy. That is the attitude that Governments usually take in regard to inventions. In this particular case we have a more intelligent Government, and it has appreciated the importance of it. But it cannot invent.

And another hostage to fortune:

Mr Mond (Lib) I do not think that nations in the future are going to conduct their battles by scattering explosives over houses. That is very unlikely to take place. It would be the very reversal of the rules of war which have now existed for a long time. Nobody expects an enemy to bombard a seaside place like Brighton. With civilised nations warfare is not conducted by simply destroying property and killing civilians, or by dropping dynamite about London, Paris, or Berlin.

The first casualty of such was an English child killed in a Zeppelin raid, apparently.

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French professionals for bossnapping

The Plain People of France have again been polled on their attitudes to bossnapping and the like, the previous survey having been blogged here.

And, rather encouragingly, there has been something of a upswing in decency, respect for life, property and so forth - outright condemnation of bossnapping rises from 7% to 15% and approval slips from 30% to a still jaw-dropping 23%.

Demonstrating what one might, if generous, term confusion, some 9% of professionals / executives approve, down from 24%. One might think that they've got their class identification a tad derrière about visage.

Digging into the demographics, men are more likely than women either to approve or condemn outright. Women lead on 'understand, but don't approve'. Must be that empathy that we XY types apparently lack. Only 4% of manual workers are prepared to condemn bossnapping, which must be thrilling for Trot agitators. Mind you, some 7% of what the pollsters call the Extrême gauche disapprove, and in this context extreme left means Lutte Ouvrière and the NPA, both of which are Trot parties, although in the case of the latter, with a few useful idiots along for the ride too. No Communist polled disapproved, although the datum is caveated as involving fewer than 40 pollees. Doubtless they are dreaming of storming the Winter Elysée Palace.

In a new development, the poll also asks about threats of destruction of corporate property in the pursuit of better redundancy etc deals. Overall, some 16% approve, and 34% disapprove Showing the same degree of false consciousness as they did for the previous question, 8% of professionals / execs approve. Men are the keener sex with 20% approving, and my fellow Gen X-ers (ish - 34-49) are the most likely to take The Damned's 'Smash it up' to heart, with 19% approving. A rather poor indicator for the insurrectionist left is that 18-24 year old are the most condemnatory at 44%. Heartening. Perhaps the most risible finding is that while PCF fans would not condemn bossnapping, some 5% condemn this threat. Greens are the most critical of the far left, which is odd, as presumably a wrecked factory can't despoil Gaia.

Asked why the toiling masses are up to what they are up to, the favoured excuse is 'a sense of injustice over executive salaries and dividend pay outs', followed by 'the closure / layoff is all down to stock market reasons'. The presumed rationale chosen by those condemning outright is 'fear of unemployment'. Further down the list of 'reasons' is 'the presence and influence of the extreme left'. Overall, 11% cite this, compared to 28% of Gaullists. As only 3% of Trots and 9% of Communists agree, they should be flattered that there are so many on the Right who think them capable of performing the vanguard role.

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Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.....

Take out your freshly peeled onion now:

"HM Revenue & Customs is determined to overcome problems with staff morale revealed in an employee survey...Lesley Strathie (who sports a rather ill-advised Louise Brooks bob) [said]“The fact that people feel low morale is only what we should expect: that doesn’t excuse it, it doesn’t mean that is where I or my leadership team want to be".

Not a lot that can be done about them being social lepers either.

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Hansard 1909 - featuring impecunious inventors, the defaming of Indian clerks and what to do with the V&A

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Following a recount, I've found a few odds and ends, although 30/7/1909 was not a vintage sitting:

India was teeming with thieving clerks. Apparently:

Mr Claude Hay (Lib) asked the Under-Secretary for India...whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that, owing to the number of letters which are improperly opened or stolen in transit by native officials in the Indian postal service, British firms have been compelled to warn their correspondents, stating that they hoped that their letters had arrived safely...and whether he will say what steps it is proposed to take in order to remedy this grievance?

Or maybe not:

The MASTER of ELIBANK It will be necessary to inquire of the Government of India before a full reply can be given to the first part of the question. As regards the second part, statistics regarding complaints made by the public against the Post Office, and the proportion of groundless to well-founded complaints, are given in the Annual Report of the Post Office of India. A case in which it was alleged that letters were delivered to persons other than the addressees was recently brought to the notice of the Government. No proof of the allegations was forthcoming, but the suspected clerks were removed, and the complainants admit that they are now receiving their letters properly.

Giving it straight:

Mr. TYSON WILSON (Lab) asked the First Commissioner of Works if he is aware that practically the whole of the workmen that were engaged fitting up and completing the work in connection with the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, have been discharged, although there is a considerable amount of work uncompleted; and whether, in view of the amount of unemployment in the building trade in London, he can see his way to reengage the workmen with the object of completing the work?
Mr. HARCOURT The work for which my Department is responsible has been completed; it is of course impossible for me to re-engage workmen for whom there is no work. The fitting up of exhibits is a matter for the Board of Education.

You would not find workmen engaged where there is no work in the public sector today, would you?

98% perspiration, 1% inspiration, 1% litigation:

Mr. WILLIAM THORNE asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the Public Prosecutor refuses to give any assistance to men in poor circumstances who have brought out various inventions, when investigating cases of fraud, forgery, and persecution; and if he intends taking any action in the matter.

Mr. HOBHOUSE I am informed by the Director of Public Prosecutions that he does not know to what this question refers. If the hon. Member will be so good as to explain to me what he has in mind, I will cause further inquiry to be made.




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Hansard trawling for 1859, featuring the wishes of Zouaves, the attention span of George III and cows in Hyde Park.

In part because the 1909 sitting for today is exceptionally dull, and in part because a request for 1859 was made yesterday.

Odd things afoot in Hyde Park:

"MR. W. EWART said, he wished to ask the First Commissioner of Works whether there is any prospect that the large space near the middle of Hyde Park recently enclosed with iron railings, so as to exclude the public, would be restored for the use and recreation of the public.

MR. FITZROY said, he was afraid he could give no more satisfactory answer to the question now than he gave when it was put to him on a former occasion. Some two years ago great objection was made to giving the cows in the park unrestricted liberty of roaming over the ground, and the cows were consequently removed to an enclosure, and sheep were substituted in their place. The alteration was made to meet the convenience of the public; and if the public wished to again give the cows the range of the whole park, instead of confining them to their present restricted area, he thought the old system must be reverted to".

A reasonable enough answer. I suppose the park counted as common land, hence the outbreak of grazing. Wonder where the cow sheds, milking parlours were? Probably not in Knightsbridge.

Italy - what to do....

MR. SCULLY said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether the Sovereign of the Roman States has finally accepted or declined the position of President over the Confederate States of Italy; and whether, in the event of the Sovereign Pontiff accepting that office, it is intended on the part of Her Majesty's Government to adopt effectual steps for establishing direct diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome?

VISCOUNT PALMERSTON said, that, as he would not be able to speak twice on the Motion before the Chair, he would delay his answer.

Oh aye. Not avoiding the question at all then. As a bit of background, the unification of Italy was not complete at the time, and the French had just fought the Hapsburg Empire in alliance with Savoy. And won... Taking some chunks of Italy as a pourboire.

Honesty the best policy?

"MR. BENTINCK said, he rose to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether there is any intention on the part of Her Majesty's Government to reduce the Naval Armament of the Country. The question involved considerations of such importance that he should beg the indulgence of the House for a few moments while he stated the grounds upon which he was induced to put it at that particular period. He would admit at the outset that the question was suggested solely by public rumour, but the subject affected so closely not only the honour and the interests, but the very existence of this country as a nation, that he was sure it would be received as more than a sufficient reason for the course he had adopted, and an ample justification for his pressing for a clear and conclusive answer on the part of the Government

Precious of the current lot would be that up front....

The national defences:

"Mr Horsman - The question of the national defences had only to be mentioned in that House to excite a feeling of general interest, and he believed the feeling of that House on the subject was a very inadequate representation of that which prevailed throughout the country. They had just been called on by the Government to make a large increase in the taxes of the year, and the reason on which that demand was grounded was the necessity of adding to our national defences. This year our armaments would cost us £26,000,000, and in order to meet that enormous outlay we should have to submit to an augmentation of the most odious and exceptional of all our imposts. In a time of profound peace we were about to nearly double the income tax, and there was a general disposition throughout the country to inquire whence the great exigency arose"
...
All those armaments and that taxation were necessitated by one cause—namely, the fear of an attack from France—why should they not say it? France knew it, and said it—and all Europe knew it, and said it—and no one differed about it in that House, except perhaps the Member for Birmingham, who disputed the necessity, and the Ministers of the Crown, with whom it would be a breach of etiquette to confess the motive.
...
Every one knew that if in any future wax-that might occur a French general were to laud in England, he would bring with him every soldier for whom transport could he found. It would be for invaders and invaded a life and death struggle. That army would leave its own ports an exultant and, by anticipation, a victorious army. From the moment it landed on the shores of England it would have to fight its way with the desperation of a forlorn hope, and within two or three weeks of the landing of the first Zouave either it would be completely annihilated or London would be taken. It would he less a war than a surprise, and its suddenness would be one element in the calculation of its success.
...
The Member for Birmingham, for instance, as an independent Member of that House, and acting on his individual responsibility, expressed fearlessly what he held consistently, and he had a perfect right to believe that there was not a Zouave in the French army who would not prefer a remission of the wine duties to the sack of London"

Horsman died in Biarritz, by the way.

And over in the Lords

The Liturgy of the Church of England:

"LORD EBURY presented a Petition from the clergy of the Church of England, for a Revision of the Liturgy of the Church of England. His Lordship said that the petitioners prayed the House to address the Queen to appoint a Commission to revise the Liturgy, a subject which he maintained was regarded by all the thinking portion of the national Church as of paramount importance; and he fancied their Lordships would he disposed to attach greater weight to the petition from the fact that it was signed, not by the laity, but by upwards of 500 clergymen of the Church of England".
....

THE BISHOP OF LONDON said, he was sure there was no man less inclined to mislead their Lordships on this question than his noble Friend (Lord Ebury), nor was there any man who had more at heart the best interests of the Church of England. But their Lordships had been led to believe that what the noble Lord desired was simply to shorten the services of the Church...He was ready to admit that this was an object which a great body of the laity, both enlightened and unenlightened, desired; but he did not think that the right way to shorten the services was to take the course which the petitioners desired.
....

VISCOUNT DUNGANNON concurred in all that had fallen from the noble Earl, and expressed his astonishment that any objection should be raised to our most beautiful and impressive Burial service.

LORD BROUGHAM said, he thought that House a most unfit assembly to discuss questions of a theological character. No doubt there were many parts of the Liturgy which might be amended, or at least shortened; but matters of this kind were better left in the hands of the right rev. Bench....it was related by Dr. Paley that he was once at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, when that Creed was read in the presence of George III. When it was commenced His Majesty did not make the usual responses, and the clergyman, thinking this was from inadvertence, began again, whereupon the King shut his book, and, as Dr. Paley said, "left him to go on with his 'Whosoever,' by himself." George III., therefore, as well as Dr. Paley—one of the most useful champions of the Church—did not look upon this Creed as fit to be retained—he meant in respect of the condemnatory words".

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The end of Portugal?

From El Pais (short-lived English link, Spanish permalink here )

"Four in 10 Portuguese would support the political union of their country with Spain, according to a new poll. The study, published yesterday by the Barometer of Spanish-Portuguese Opinion BOHL), found notably less support for an Iberian federation from Spanish respondents. Roughly 40 percent of the 363 individuals polled in Portugal by researchers from the University of Salamanca supported the union, while only 30 percent of the 513 participating Spaniards said they were partial to the idea".

Further digging discloses the full text of the research here (in Spanish), and a combination of bar Spanish, French, inspired guess work and so forth makes me pretty confident that I have these findings correct:

6.9% of Spaniards can name the Portuguese president, and 1.2% its current prime minister. ( I could...) 54.2% of Portuguese can name the Spanish PM. 10.2% of Spaniards and 11.3% of Portuguese correctly identified Philip II as the first king of a united Spain and Portugal. Elsewhere, 41.8% of Spaniards know the colours of the flag of Portugal and 55.4% of Portuguese know the colours of the Spanish flag. The best known Spaniards in Portugal are Julio Iglesias, King Juan Carlos and Princess Letizia. The reverse celebs are Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo and Saramago (?).

Given what goes on in Brussels, those 40% of Portuguese not especially bothered about the mother country might find that things will happen sooner than they think, albeit in another form.....

I just 'spoke' to a Portuguese friend, admittedly married to a Spaniard, and he was pretty relaxed about the idea. Quoth he: "we are the same people".

And just for fun, a noted Portuguese canned fish product:



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Perfidious Albion interfering in another democracy's domestic affairs

From the Jerusalem Post, a tale that shows up elsewhere in the world's media, if not - as far as I can see - here:

"Israel is up in arms over a declaration by a British government spokesman that the UK is funding political activity in Israel. British spokesman Martin Day said in an interview in Dubai with Al-Arabiya television last week that the British government was "taking practical steps towards freezing settlement activities." "For instance," Day said, "we finance projects aimed at halting settlement activities. One of these projects seeks to build new Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and save Palestinian houses from demolition." In addition, Day said in an Arabic interview, "we also finance organizations that monitor settlement activities." He further stated that "products from the settlements do not enjoy preferential custom duties that we offer to products coming from Israel. In light of this, we can say that we are taking effective and practical steps against settlement activities."
...
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, "We can't recall any other case of a democratic country funding political activities inside another democratic country."..."How would the British feel if another country funded political activities of groups within the UK?" he asked. Barak's conversation with Phillips came fast on the heels of revelations that the British, Dutch and Spanish governments were funding Breaking the Silence, an Israeli NGO that recently published a report in which unnamed soldiers alleged IDF misconduct during Operation Cast Lead."

I am not going to make any apologies for being a Zionist or outline for the umpteenth reason why I am one, but my objections to 'our' government's activities in Israel would be the same were they going on in any other democracy. The Israelis are well within their rights to feel thoroughly aggrieved.

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Stat o' the day

From Libé:

"Fewer than 400 Muslim women - 367 exactly - wear a full veil (niqab or burka) in France".

I am not a huge fan of that particular look, for a number of reasons, but one does wonder quite how accurate that census could possibly be.

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More C20th Hansard trawling, featuring dreadnoughts, Crete and condensed milk

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
This is shaping up to be more fun (for me, anyway) than the contemporary stuff.

Greeks bearing gifts, so to speak:

" Mr. HART-DAVIES asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he has any official information that the Greek flag has been hoisted over the fortress at Canea, in Crete?

Sir E. GREY The answer is in the negative.

Mr. HART-DAVIES Has the right hon. Gentleman any information to give to the House as to the course of events in Crete?

Sir E. GREY That is rather a large order for an answer to a question without notice. I have telegraphed for the information asked for in the question, and that is all I have".

The good people of Crete were ruled by a Greek High Commissioner, although technically under Ottoman suzerainty at the time. Unsurprisingly they wanted the Ottomans out, what with the Turks' tendency to massacre Christians from time to time. It would remiss of me not to fit in the wholly apposite Saki quote at this stage: "The people of Crete unfortunately make more history than they can consume locally" (The Jesting of Arlington Stringham).

As a technical point, I'd like to see present day ministers attempt to answer some of the written questions that they are plagued with orally and on the spot.. It would soon sort the men from the boys.

Nothing new under the sun dept:

Mr MacNeill (Irish Nat - and a Protestant) asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that the Orangemen of Maguiresbridge, county Fermanagh, attempted on Sunday and Monday, 11th and 12th July, to erect arches across the public road, and between the residence of the Catholic priest and the Catholic church, under which the Catholic inhabitants going to and from their devotions would be compelled to pass, and that the Orangemen were only prevented from accomplishing their object by the forcible intervention of the Royal Irish Constabulary; whether he is aware that two gentlemen holding the commission of the peace...gave directions to the local Orangemen, which were carried out, to display an Orange flag, supplied for the purpose by Mr. Henderson, in front of the Catholic priest's house at Maguiresbridge on that day, and that Mr. Maguire on that day headed an Orange band to the priest's door which was playing the Orange tune, "Kick the Pope"

Mr Cherry - I am informed by the constabulary authorities that no attempt was made by the Orangemen to erect arches on the 11th instant, but that on the 12th instant a banner was displayed across the street near the end of the village. I am told, however, that the Catholic inhabitants had not to pass under any arch going to or from their devotions. (etc etc)
Nanny state gone mad:

Mr. RUPERT GUINNESS (Con) asked the President of the Local Government Board whether it is the intention of the Government that grocers and others who sell condensed milk in tins or cream in sealed jars should be compelled to be registered under the Milk and Dairies Bill?

The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. John Burns) I have received representations as to the exclusion of cases of this kind from registration under the Bill, and I am considering how the matter can best be dealt with.

They shoot horses, don't they?:

Mr. STARKEY (Con - I think) asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the cruelty involved in the trade in old and worn-out horses from this country to the Continent; and whether the police will prevent the embarkation of horses which are suffering pain and not in a fit state to stand the voyage?

Mr. GLADSTONE Yes, Sir. The Board of Agriculture have by order prohibited the exportation of horses which for any reason cannot be shipped abroad without cruelty, and have made provisions for the proper treatment on board of those that are fit for exportation.
...

Mr. KILBRIDE (Irish Nat)

Is it not the fact that these old horses, after going to Antwerp, generally return to this country in the shape of German sausage?

And answer from Gladstone came there none.

More 'elf and safety 1909 style:

"Mr. J. PARKER (for Mr. John Ward) (Lab) asked the Home Secretary whether he has received any Report from the district inspector of Mines of a lad having been recently fined by the Longton magistrates for alleged sleeping in a mine; whether the lad is alleged to have been seriously injured as a result of so sleeping while on duty; and whether any other person was present at the time of the accident, and, if not, on what evidence the lad was convicted?

Mr. GLADSTONE

I have made inquiry of the district inspector, who informs me 1352 that the lad referred to, aged 17, who was employed as an attendant on a self-acting incline, went to sleep at half-past ten in the morning, lying across the rails. Another lad, seeing his dangerous position, attempted to drag him off the lines, but before he could get him clear an approaching tub ran over him, fracturing his thigh. The lad was subsequently prosecuted by the owners of the mine for being asleep while on duty in contravention of the special rules. As the question only appeared on the Paper yesterday, I have not been able to obtain any report of the evidence given at the hearing
Exchange o' the day:

Mr. MIDDLEMORE (Con) asked how many docks are there in the British Empire, German Empire, France, and the United States capable of holding a "Dreadnought," namely, having a length over all of 500 feet, a width at entrance of at least 82 feet, and a depth over the sill at ordinary spring tides of 27 feet.

Mr. McKENNA The number of docks actually complete and capable of taking a "Dreadnought" at normal draught is, for the countries named, as follows:—

British Empire … … 23
German Empire … … 6
France … … 5
United States … … 5

Mr. MIDDLEMORE I did not ask the right hon. Gentleman a single word about normal draught.

Mr. SPEAKER I have pointed out to the hon. Member several times he is not entitled to comment upon an answer. One great advantage which a Minister has in this House is that when he makes an answer it must be accepted until the opportunity offers in Supply to comment upon it.

Mr. MIDDLEMORE I can assure you, Sir, that the right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question.

Mr. SPEAKER The right hon. Gentleman answered it very fully.

Mr. MIDDLEMORE May I make a remark, Sir? I did not ask anything about normal draught. That is not the point. I should like to ask him, has he 23 docks capable of admitting "Dreadnoughts" 500 ft. long, 82 ft. in width at the entrance, and with a depth of 27 ft. over the sills?

Mr. McKENNA As I understand the answer, it is in the affirmative to the hon. Gentleman's question. That is the normal draught of the "Dreadnought."

Collapse of stout party, face much be-egged.


PM in turning down pointless bunfight shocker:

Mr. PIKE PEASE (Con) asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider the question of summoning an international conference to consider the question of aviation in view of the strides recently made in this science?

The PRIME MINISTER This matter is being very closely watched by the Government, and, as at present advised, I cannot see that any practical purpose would be served by summoning a conference such as the hon. Member suggests.
This, lest we forget, was the dernier mot in aeroplane design at the time:



There's more, much more, but that's enough for now. So that I might have some idea as to whether folk are enjoying this - or otherwise - brief comment would be appreciated.


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Obama's stat pr0n

From CNS News, via Zogby:

"The traffic at President Obama's official White House Web site--whitehouse.gov--has fallen from a post-Inauguration peak to nearly the same level it was during the waning days of the Bush administration.

The dramatic drop in traffic has happened despite the Obama Administration's complete redesign of the site. According to the web-traffic tracking site Alexa.com, whitehouse.gov was almost the 500th most popular Web site in the world in February. Since then, it has fallen to the 3,732 ranked Web site in the world. Traffic to the site has fallen 51.6 percent in the last three months".


Anyway, Alexa allows statpr0n fans to download the daily top 1m sites (No, I'm not in it, alas. And neither are you, unless you are Dale, Fawkes, Dizzy or DK. Couldn't be bothered to check anyone else), and whitehouse.gov currently lurks at 4419, sandwiched between 1111.com.tw - having looked at it, I have no idea what it is about, although it appears to be work safe - and geenstijl.nl, of which I have heard. It is a sort of blog / news / waggishness site for sound Dutch types.

To add insult to injury, poor old 'bama does not even have the top US govt site - that goes to NIH.gov (a health site) at 478, followed by NASA at 545 and CA.gov at 748. He is outdone by Google Angola, but betters Google T&T.

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Further fun with maiden speches - John Major

From Hansard in 1979, during the Budget debates, sandwiched betwixt Jim McCraigen and Derek Foster:

A tolerable joke:

"Huntingdonshire is a remarkable constituency in many ways. It is an ancient constituency. It has returned Members to the House since the first Parliament of Simon de Montfort. It is proud of that tradition. It is proud because amongst its former Members was, for a brief period, Oliver Cromwell. He caused your predecessors, Mr. Deputy Speaker, more trouble than I anticipate causing, at least in my early days".

An early sign of soundness:

"I believe that public opinion requires four things of the Government in terms of economic management. It requires them to cut taxes, to curb inflation, to create new jobs and, as far as possible, to maintain satisfactory public services. But the simple truth is that although public opinion may require all those four things, with the best will in the world the Chancellor and his colleagues cannot possibly achieve them all at the same time. In order to create jobs and to maintain public services, it is necessary first to cut taxes and to curb inflation".

Like it. Like it A LOT.

More good stuff:

"I was pleased to hear my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary this afternoon reiterate that the Government's commitment to spending cuts and to restraining the level of public expenditure generally was substantial and that the Government intend to keep to it. Whenever we talk about spending cuts there is bound to be a certain amount of uproar. It is never popular to cut services. But it seems that much of the uproar which is currently being engendered is to a large extent synthetic".

And again:

"I appreciate that we can keep a problem at bay temporarily by throwing subsidies at it, but if we are to curb that problem in the medium term in my constituency and in many others, it requires the establishment of new companies and a great increase in the total number of jobs available. I believe that my right hon. and learned Friend yesterday introduced certain tax and other measures which, over two to three years, will create a climate in which jobs can be increased and begin to be formed. I wholly welcome those measures".

And still more soundness:

"Since it affects many of my constituents who are retired, I am delighted to see the abolition of dividend control and the reduction of the investment income surcharge, particularly the extent of the reduction that has been made. The surcharge has always been utterly indefensible, by any practical logic, in a society that wishes to encourage investment and needs investment to provide jobs. It is grossly unfair that those who were. sufficiently prudent during their lifetime to save should find themselves punitively taxed for saving and investing, as every Chancellor of every party has asked them to do so many times in recent years. I believe my right hon. and learned Friend's measures in this respect to be simple justice".

One might think we had the makings of a pretty good future PM, based on that.










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Does Ms Ciccone need remedial geography lessons?

From the always unmissable Romanian Times:

"Pop star Madonna mistook the Spanish region Andalusia for Transylvania during her concert in Barcelona (Spain) on Tuesday night".

Well, I suppose you can buy sangria in Andalucia. Perhaps the best geographical mistake involving Spain since a Bulgarian (?) newspaper reported the liberation of Grenada with a map showing graphics of leathernecks storming the Costa del Sol en route to Granada.

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Kimilsungism in unlikely places

From the usual place:

"The National Classics Institute of the Academy of Social Sciences of the DPRK has recently brought out the Large Dictionary of Chinese Characters".

Pretty uncontroversial, and a laudable endeavour.

"The dictionary firmly maintains the Juche character and principle of historicism in the selection of entry characters and vocabularies and their interpretation, ensures scientific accuracy and popularity and gives possible origin of words and correct examples".

Juche, for the non-illuminati, can be loosely defined as 'self-reliance', although the word is sprinkled over DPRK documents much like the salt on a drunk's post pub bag of chips. One might think that having recourse to another language was quite un-juche.

'Historicism in the selection of entry characters' intrigues still more, as the two concepts would appear to be in rather stark opposition, as either it has all been determined by immutable natural laws or it has not.

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A hundred years ago (literally) - Hansard trawling 28th July 1909

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
It's good. It's really good, and what is more, Parliament appeared to sit the whole summer, so I can keep this going for week. This was when the nation was groaning under the yellow yoke of Asquith:

Boys' work in dockyards:


"Mr. JOHN WARD

asked the First Lord whether his attention has been called to an accident to a boy named Whitaker, aged 14, on the new dock works, Portsmouth, which necessitated the amputation of one leg and involved injury to the other; and what action, if any, has been taken by his Department to prevent young boys being employed upon dangerous works of this character?

Mr. McKENNA

The accident was not attributable to the particular nature of the work, which cannot properly be described as dangerous".


I am not a great one for training folk in ladder use, but maybe, just maybe Mckenna had it wrong.

Slap down o' the day:

Experimental Submarine Craft

Mr. MIDDLEMORE

asked the First Lord whether Messrs. Beardmore and Company offered to build an experimental submarine craft; and, if so, will he say why the offer was refused?

Mr. McKENNA

Messrs Beardmore and Company have not submitted a design of a submarine boat to the Admiralty.


Cattle mutiliation

The boy Gladstone appears very well informed:

Mr. JEREMIAH MacVEAGH

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that cattle-maiming has taken place on the farm of Mr. James, at Walton, near Burton-on-Trent; will he say how many animals were mutilated, how many disembowelled, and how many have died; and whether any arrests have been made?

Mr. GLADSTONE

I am informed that three calves were killed on the farm in question; their throats were cut, and two of them were also badly mutilated. On an adjoining farm a sheep has been killed. No clue has yet been discovered to the perpetrator of these abominable outrages.

And a really rather good exchange:

Mr. WILLIAM THORNE (Lab)

asked the Home Secretary if his attention has been called to the action of the police in Trafalgar-square on Sunday last, 25th July, in attacking several persons, men and women, who were engaged in selling a newspaper called "Justice," and tearing the papers from them and confiscating them; and whether he will cause inquiry to be made into the matter, or if he can give any explanation of this action on the part of the police?

Mr. GLADSTONE

The police seized, without using unnecessary force, certain papers which contained pictorial and press matter of a nature calculated to incite to crime and to provoke a disturbance of the peace. Their action, in my opinion, was fully justified.

Mr. REES (Lib)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether retribution has not properly overtaken those who sell "Justice"?

....

Mr. THORNE

Am I to understand that the freedom of the Press is entirely in the hands of the Chief Commissioner of Police?

Mr. GLADSTONE

When the freedom of the Press is abused the police have to act in the execution of their duty.

Mr. THORNE
Who has to decide when the freedom of the Press is abused?

Mr. GLADSTONE

If the police cannot form their own opinions, they can consult those who are over them, who have special responsibility.

Mr. THORNE

Would it not be as well to consult the Czar before you introduce Russian methods?

Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL (Irish Nat)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give these policemen billets in India?

Mr. THORNE

Here is a copy of the paper. There is nothing outrageous in it.

Mr. SPEAKER

Any further questions on this matter must be put on the Paper.

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Russian roulette with a 64-chamber revolver

From EUPravda:

"The number of bags delayed at the airport amounted to 4.6 million between January 2008 and October 2008 in the European Union... Effectively, one piece of luggage has been reported missing for every 64 passengers".

I've only had my luggage mislaid the once - Toulouse-Paris-London - and was rather pleased as it meant I did not have to schlep it across town but rather had it delivered by courier the next day.

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Tony Blair comes out as a Socialist

Or rather 'came out'.

Herewith a link to his 1983 maiden speech
.

The best bit:

"I am a Socialist not through reading a textbook that has caught my intellectual fancy, nor through unthinking tradition, but because I believe that, at its best, Socialism corresponds most closely to an existence that is both rational and moral".

Some other highlights:

"When I say "well off" I mean very well off. It is not those who earn the average wage who have benefited from the Government's fiscal policy, or even those who earn double the average. The only beneficiaries are those who earn more than three times the average".

OK, so it was Mandelson who was relaxed about people becoming filthy rich, but he was one buttock of the same backside as Mr Tony.

Propping up dead ducks:

"Yet, despite the 40 per cent. unemployment, NSF, a subsidiary of the National Coal Board, announced in February this year a proposal to close the Fishburn coke works....In the recession, NSF loses money. However, the direct cost of closure in terms of redundancy payments, lost taxes and other related costs amounts to £3 million in the first year and £1 million in the following years. To close Fishburn is an act of economic madness multiplied by social disregard on an unbelievable scale. Its only true justification is a blind allegiance to dogma".

Standing up for cigarettes:

"There is not a pit left in my constituency. In the 1960s and the early 1970s, new industry came to the constituency, but it often lacked strong roots. When the recession began to bite, many companies—particularly the multinationals — saw their northern outlets as the ones to be cut. Some still remain, including Thorns and Black and Decker, although both have suffered cutbacks. Carreras Rothman, also in Spennymoor, is one area of growth, but in general terms the picture is bleak".


I've tracked down Heath's and Thatcher's debuts too, Hansard fans. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow.....

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More map malarkey - Africa in 1858

Despite much excavating in the bookmarks, I am struggling to find anything I fancy posting about, so here are some more maps, again from Delamarche, of Africa as known to Europeans in 1858:


Particular stand out are the Congo and Lake Victoria/Tanganyika.

I've got an awful lot more of this stuff, although much of it is not especially scanner-friendly for reasons of size and / or binding, but I'm taking requests until such time as something more on topic shows up on my radar. I can't even find any mad French surveys.

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An astonishing finding - 'crazy cat ladies' do not like the term

Dumbfounding, isn't it?

"A [US] campaign is underway to give a more positive “spin” to being catty. The “Tidy Cats Campaign to End Cattiness” campaign kicked off July 27 to debunk misperceptions and celebrate millions of people who happily share their homes – and hearts – with cats. (It is a PR stunt for a company that makes litter trays and the like)

Among Americans polled in a national survey sponsored by Tidy Cats:
....

58 percent regard people with more than one cat as “crazy cat ladies"

A second part of the survey polled non-cat owners. Their responses:

  • 75 percent of them report multiple cat owners’ homes as smelly
  • 85 percent of them report these cat owners’ beds and furniture are fur covered.
  • 66 percent of them report these cat owners’ homes as being cluttered.

In a poll aimed at people who have more than one cat, the results reveal:

  • 96 percent view themselves as being caring and loving
  • 90 percent see themselves as being generous
Etc etc.

And the best bit: "Nearly a quarter of multiple cat owners surveyed admitted that they would like to eliminate the "crazy cat lady" stereotype and prefer terms such as "cat lover" and "animal lover."

Does that mean the other 75% revel in the term? CCL pride, mebbe?

Can't say I would want a cat, as I have a minor allergy to pet hair, but am happy enough to engage with friends' mogs at least until I get scratched, bored or my eyes start streaming. If they make folk happy, fine - it's none of my business. I have been known to propagate the CCL idea indirectly by referring to a woman I knew thus -'and she has eight cats. You fill in the blanks'. That tended to prompt knowing nods.

JuliaM has pointed out this excellent action figure, which assuredly merits the edit:


And there's a 'are you a crazy cat lady?' test here.

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Good grief...

Monday, July 27, 2009
Brace yourselves for this from the Hindustan Times:

"Gameloft is a mobile games company that specialises in developing mobile games based on world celebrities and Hollywood movies and will soon release the game on Hilton.

Paris Hilton's Diamond Guest, is the first official mobile game from Paris Hilton, showing the star's glamorous side and elegance, a release in Mumbai said".

Erm, just how exciting will a PG version of a Paris Hilton game be? What could it involve beyond shopping and making foolish observations?



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We have succeeded in impressing the French

Which is nice. Le Parisien's man in London seems quite overawed by our not panicking about swine flu:

"With more than 30 dead and 100,000 new cases last week, the UK is the European country most affected [by swine flu]. Psychosis is a long way from taking hold".

"At the entrance to Harrods (1), at stations, pubs and theatres there are no signs about H1N1...One sees the odd mask here and there, but these are generally sported as a preventative measure by Spanish, Japanese and Chinese tourists.... The population has kept, overall, its legendary phlegmatism. 'Swine flu? The punters are talking about it, but not as much as about football' said a Piccadilly barmaid".

Fond though I am of our Gallic chums, a sense of proportion when it comes to health and inefficiency is not their thing.

(1). The French always end up calling it ''arolds'. Listen out for it.

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The UN learns txt spk

I wish this part of silly week, but it is not.

R2P. What might that be? A car model designation? A type of hard drive?

Nope - 'responsibility to protect' - "The General Assembly debate on protecting civilians from the most serious atrocities continued today as delegates wrestled with the extent to which States should step in to stop -– and ultimately prevent -- genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing...aimed at providing a legal and moral basis for assisting civilians in the event of State failure to do so in the specific context of those four crimes

The speeches from various parties are quite telling:

Cuba - 'State sovereignty could not be disregarded even on a humanitarian basis'. So to Hell with the unfortunate people of Darfur, inter alia.

Algeria - 'the circumstances in which the four core crimes usually unfolded were characterized by extreme poverty, the weakening of democracy and good governance by foreign manipulation, and other social and cultural realities'. In other words, it is all the developed world's fault.

Israel - 'As a people who had experienced perhaps the most serious genocide in history, Israel knew how important it was not to remain silent in the face of such crimes. Too often, a blind eye had been turned to genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yet those violations did not happen in a vacuum; they were often calculated. It was thus important to address the issue of incitement by remembering the weight of words in carrying out those crimes. After all, they began in the minds of men and resulted in the incitement of blind hatred. Teaching peace and eliminating incitement were critical. Greater investment in education would probably diminish the likelihood of such crimes'. Yup....

China - 'As to its implementation, he said States had the primary responsibility to protect their citizens, while the international community could provide assistance. That was in keeping with the principle of sovereignty. It was important that R2P not contravene principles of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs'. Or ssshh, don't mention Sinkiang or Tibet.

Croatia - 'it could not help but think of all the lives that could have been saved in his country. The civilian tragedy of Vukovar was an important wake-up call for the international community and underscored the importance of preventing the recurrence of such tragedies in the future. It was regrettable that the international community and the United Nations itself had failed to recognize and respond adequately to the ethnically inflammatory rhetoric that had culminated in the Vukovar tragedy. Even after the temporary cessation of hostilities and the creation of United Nations protected areas in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, ethnically-biased killings and ethnic cleansing had occurred'. And not a mumbling word about Operation Storm, in which Croatia achieved the following: "Approximately 150,000 to 200,000 Serbs fled approaching Croat forces to Serb-held parts of Bosnia and Serbia. The European Union Special Envoy to the Former Yugoslavia Carl Bildt called it on Aug. 7, 1995, "the most efficient ethnic cleansing we've seen in the Balkans".

Turkey - 'Regrettably, however, genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity were still being committed. Indeed, civilian protection was a concern for all'. Admitting the Armenian Genocide would be a start.

Andorra, Monaco and San Marino all had something to say too, doubtless because they will not actually do anything.

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Silly Week, or if you prefer, #sillyweek, pt 1

The all together splendid Man in a Shed has decided that we bloggers are entitled to at least as much silliness as the public prints, broadcasters and so forth, what with the Parliamentary recess, and thus participants will be kicking of an inaugural silly week. I am in wholehearted agreement, and therefore I am going to be matching cabinet and shadow cabinet members in sundry forms of combat, and second guessing the outcome.

Rather than doing the whole damned lot of them in one fell swoop, I will be doing them one at a time.

So, starting at the top, Brown vs Cameron.

I would think that a no-holds barred cage death match between the two would be appropriate. Cameron has the following advantages - comparative youth and a distinct level of physical fitness. One might add that membership of the Bullingdon Club could be viewed as training of sorts. Brown is aided by bitterness, wrath and a sense of having nothing to lose, but is handicapped by his corpulence and poor depth perception. I'm calling this one as a technical K.O by Cameron in three rounds.

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The EU's most and least uxorious / maritorious nations

And the ones most and least concerned about their progeny.

It is Eurobarometer time, and Euroman and woman has been asked whether he/she is concerned about losing his/her own job, and concern levels about both 'spousal' and offspring job loss.

And the data has facilitated what I think is a rather telling chart:


In every one of the EU 27, plus three accession candidates, concern for both one's other half and one's children outweighs concern for oneself except for one country:

Step up to the podium, please, Luxembourg. While 23% of Luxembourgeois/e are lying awake at night worrying about their own prospects, only 22% of them are worried either about the person lying next to them or son and heir in the next room, next town or wherever. Before I am accused of kicking off bash a Luxemburger week, the figure is indeed well within statistical margin of error, but no other country sees figures so closely matched.

Of the 27, Latvians, Slovenes and the French are the most anxious for their children, with 26, 25 and 22 percentage point levels of greater concern than for themselves. We manage a nineteen point gap.

The Italians would appear not to be as uxorious / maritorious (I had to dig that up..) as perhaps they should, as 40% are worrying for themselves, but only 38% for their significant others. Latvians, Cypriots and Maltese put their 'spouses' first, with point gaps of 14 for the former two, and 16 for the latter. There is a ten point gap in these parts.

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Chutzpah corner

Friday, July 24, 2009
From the South African Mail & Guardian:

"Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Friday called for an end to political violence, at the start of a weekend of national prayer meant to launch a still-vague process of national reconciliation".

If Mugabe calls of his thugs, all well and good, but I am at a loss to know how he mustered the bare-face cheek.

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A map of the British Isles takes an acid trip

In the face of overwhelming popular demand, the very bad British county map from French cartographers Delamarche (1858) referenced earlier:


Double click it, it is worth it.

And the South East in close up:


My own former county of Essex gets a particularly raw deal, although the cruciform shape of Leicestershire is novel, as is Bucks bordering Huntingdonshire.

There is nothing else quite so comically bad of the world well known to Europeans in this particular atlas, but I might offer up Africa later.

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French in 'good idea' shocker

From Libé, one in the eye for idiots 'extreme' tourists:

"French people who travel, in spite of warnings, to dangerous zones, could be made to pay 'some or all of the costs' incurred in rescuing them....The proposed law is inspired by similar legislation that already exists in Germany".

Fine by me, and I would like something similar in these parts, as I rather resent the prospect of paying to rescue those cretins who think that a bit of boating off the Horn of Africa, pitching a tent in Waziristan etc is a great way to spend their spare time.

A commentator has noted in the original article, the average tripper may not have the wherewithal to pay for the French equivalent of the SAS to bail them out, let alone the cost of several hours of avgas for a Transall C-160. Still, it *might* make a few folk weigh up the consequences of their actions.

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The DPRK insults the British proletariat

Yes it has:

"The Korean people have stronger working class consciousness than any other people".

Oh aye. While the WPK swept the board in the DPRK's 'elections', Koreans on the other side of the 38th parallel would seem to have been exhibiting a truly shocking measure of false consciousness / embourgeoisement etc, in that the main socialist party, the Minju Nodong-dang or Democratic Labour Party, secured the princely total of five seats out of 299 in the last election. Half what it polled in 2004.

Meanwhile the DPRK / Hillary Clinton face off has made it onto the KCNA site, but alas this is now stale news. However, there is one small bone that has not been picked over:

"The DPRK has taken necessary measures to protect the nation's sovereignty and right to existence to cope with the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat, not to attract anyone's attention. The U.S., however, is taking the lead in making much ado about nothing".

Really? Curious then that the KCNA has had a front page link to news of the nuclear test for some weeks now:





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Petition o' the day

"to add [time to the]...National Curriculum that will seek to alleviate the rising body image problems in the UK’s 12-20 year olds" Source

And how much time? One hour per year. Yup, that's going to work, and pity any teacher who is a bit on the lardy side. I imagine that folk doing degrees in applied mathematics, philosophy, or come to that, whichever joke subject are being taught this week will appreciate the break in curriculum continuity. Likewise, those in employment might find taking the time off a bit of a struggle.

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Good news, map fans

"A Danish expert said on Friday that a 15th century Vinland Map, the first known map depicting part of America prior to Christopher Columbus’ arrival on the continent, is almost certainly authentic... The map shows both Greenland and a western Atlantic island "Vinilanda Insula," the Vinland of the Icelandic sagas, now linked by scholars to Newfoundland, Canada, where Norsemen under Leif Eriksson settled around AD 1000.

Larsen said his team studied the ink, writing, wormholes and parchment of the map, which is kept at Yale University. They found that wormholes caused by wood beetles were consistent with those in the books in which the map was bound, he said". Source

Not the last word in accuracy, even for the 'known world', and probably not much use for route planning. Better than the Mappa Mundi though.

As some may have noticed, I have an unhealthy interest in maps, and may well do some more map posts further down the line. The major problem is scanning A3/A2 ish sized maps, even in parts without damaging the spines of the atlases concerned. Anyway if anyone fancies seeing a hilariously inaccurate French county map of the UK from about 1860 I'll give it a go, techical problems notwithstanding.

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UN follies, part 357

Thursday, July 23, 2009
From the UN press room:

"Presenting Denmark’s seventh periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Vibeke Abel underlined the country’s commitment to fully implement the Convention. Towards that goal, Denmark’s Act on gender equality was continuously being revised -- most recently, in May. The Minister of Gender Equality had also been transferred to the Ministry of Employment to provide a good opportunity to work harder on issues like the gender pay gap and a gender segregated labour market".

Much quizzing from the likes of reps from France, Finland and Slovenia. Fair enough.

However, note this question:

Zohra Rasekh [expert from ...] asked about legislation regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Also, did Greenland have specific laws against trafficking?

And from which country on the bleeding edge of women's rights does Zohra hail from? Norway? NZ? Canada?

No - Afghanistan. Motes and beams come to mind.

I am NOT making this up.

Meanwhile, some people just do not bother with their homework:

Ms. Belmihoub-Zerdani, expert from Algeria, asked why the numbers for representation from Greenland and the Faroe Island were the way they were and why those representatives could not sit in the European Parliament. Was that due to discrimination on the part of the European Parliament?

Ms. Abel said that the Faroe Islands had two seats in the Danish Parliament. To be a member of the European Parliament, a country had to be a part of the European Union, and Greenland had voted not to join.

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Let's all laugh at the Beast of Redmond


Hotmail does not trust messages from the Beast itself. Snigger.

Hearts of stone department

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Just been sent a press release by Politics Home on attitudes to a President of Europe.

And quite entertaining it is too, in that it looks like Mr Tony is in this position:

"A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house" Mark 6:4.

And for why?: Only 37% of us want him strutting around being horribly pleased with himself while being fawned over as 'Mr President', whereas 47% would rather it went to a Belgian from central casting, if we have to have an EU president. Fie upon the 16% who could not muster an opinion. One might note that Mr Tony is a good deal more popular than the party he presumably still pays a membership fee to - latest polls put Labour somewhere in the mid 20s. Does this mean that those wandering away from the red corner want the Prince over the Water to come back, or are there individuals so patriotic, so to speak, that they would rather have a British SOB in charge rather than the Belgian from etc etc? Furthermore, if offered the louse or the flea in a forced choice, 57% oped for Blair, 11% for Brown. Presumably the other 32% hastened to the bathroom cabinet in search of paracetamols, razor blades or whatever else might put them out of their misery.

More details on the poll here.

I am hoping that the hyperactive French pollsters will do the decent thing and ask the Plain People of France who they want, which might then give the opportunity for much pointing and laughing.

(As a footnote, I *almost* miss Blair - at least he had a way with words and gave the impression that he knew what he was doing)

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Headline o' the year. Almost.

From the Miami Herald:

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The art of not getting it - a masterclass from Lord Dykes

From Lords hansard:

Lord Dykes: To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they propose measures to tackle any negligence on the part of shareholders, at annual general meetings and other times, in granting excessive remuneration to directors and in nominating members of remuneration committees.

Rather than asuggesting that Dykes go away and read 'Business for Dummies' or somesuch, the response from Lord Young was quite mild:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): The appointment and remuneration of directors is a matter for companies and their shareholders. (blah)

The biogs of Dykes out there on the net are a bit on the thin side, so I cannot discover if he has ever made a living other than as a politician. I am, however, speechless that anyone sentient could ask something quite so foolish.

As yesterday was the last sitting until October (?), I'll be rationing my Hansard nuggets, and as suggested the other day, digging around in the deep archives for amuaing anachronisms.

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Where to get your dead duck put on life support

An interesting survey over at World Public Opinion, covering interpretations of the recession etc etc. There is a lot of interesting stuff in it, but for now I will focus on this question:

Do you think that, in the current financial crisis:

A - The government should use public funds to help large manufacturing companies in trouble because if they fail it damages the general economy and too many people lose their jobs.


Or
B - The government should not use public funds to help large manufacturing companies in trouble, because they are likely to fail anyway and the economy will be more vital if weak companies are allowed to fail.

And the Americans are the keenest on letting the survival of the fittest, with 70% opting for B. We manage a fairly creditable 36%, with hawks to be found in Kenya, Taiwan, Honkers and Indonesia, all at 40%+.

Dead ducks can look forward to a long and fruitful afterlife in Ukraine, Nigeria, Turkey, China and Pakistan, with 70% in favour of bail outs.

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Troughgate, à la Française

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The French equivalent of Auto Express - of all things - has blown the whistle on what it considers Gallic abuse of the public purse, noting that ministers are availing themselves of some rather nice (by current French standards (1)) vehicles. Libé has the details, as Auto Plus, not unreasonably, wants you to buy the mag and is not putting much on its website.

Anyway, Brice Hortefeux, Minister of the Interior is intent on getting his mitts on two Citroen C6s, with leather seats (choc horreur) at some €100,000. This would look to be the price for two of them, so let's say circa £43,000 a pop. So far so 'so what'. Our ministers cruise around in Jags and the like, but Brice wants them to replace 2007 models. Brice says it is just the one, by the way. Further, there is an outbreak of Renault Vel Satises (Vel Sati?) to be seen in and around the Ministry of Defence and the Assemblée nationale where the parking fees are pretty savage, apparently.

Auto Express should perhaps note that the ruling elite are at least buying French - I imagine social death would be forthcoming if they had Mercs - and compared to the Italian, British and German vehicle industries, haut de gamme, car-wise is not really that luxe, frankly.

(1) This is the only vehicle that any and all self-respecting French pols should be waving to the populace from:


Ok, this heart stopper would be permissible too:



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A public service announcement

Want to avoid the possibility of one's crossbow taking down the albatross this summer?

I have the solution:

"John Mason: To ask the Leader of the House whether she plans to visit Glasgow on official business during the summer adjournment.

Barbara Keeley: My right hon. Friend has no plans, at this time, to visit Glasgow on official business".

The caveat is a little alarming, however.

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The end of history and the last pub, or 234 years to the Apocalypse

(With apologies)

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the number of public houses which have closed in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sutcliffe: The DCMS Statistical Bulletin on Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment does not identify the number of pubs in England and Wales; but rather the number of premises authorising the sale or supply of alcohol by means of a premises licence or a club premises certificate. We understand that CGA Strategy, the pub and drinks market analyst, which tracks the pub closure rate on behalf of the British Beer and Pub Association, currently estimates that between 51 and 53 pubs a week are closing. At 53 per week, the pub closure level would equate to around 2,750 per year. Source

Let's run with the figure of 57,500 in 2007. At a rate of 4.78% of closures per year, the last one will close in 2244. Given that, to adapt the joke about the two Jews on a desert island joke, one needs to have a pub one does not go to, it is worse - there will only be one by 2223. We will be down to four figures by 2043 (which I *might* live to see), and three figures by 2090. If the rate continues to fall at 2,750 per year, the End of Days comes in 2027.

If this terrible set of events is not to come to pass, 'think globally, drink locally'.


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