Tuesday, February 28

Shrove Tuesday.

This was the first Shrove Tuesday I've ever spent without pancakes. Instead, since I got a waffle iron for Christmas, we had waffles. I'd tried using it a couple of times since I got it, experimenting a little with the batter, with good but not-good-enough results. So, this time, I went a-Googling. And I found this recipe. The results were seriously amazing.

If you have a waffle iron, try that recipe. If you don't, get one. Then try that recipe.



Good lunacy and bad lunacy.

Courtesy of Natalie the Wise comes this brilliant bit of nonsense:

I well recall that fateful Elders of Zion meeting. It was the early '60's, a time of heady triumph in the Movement - we had just assassinated Kennedy, were ramping up the war profiteering in Southeast Asia, and the Enslave N' Starve Africa(tm) plans were just being finalized. Money was pouring in from our ongoing home foreclosure and Muslim organ farming operations, and the masses were responding far more submissively to the water fluoridation mind-control project than expected, a scheme which admittedly I had thought was overly ambitious.


... on the subject of this brilliant bit of nonsense:

Watch Schindler's List. Every Jew was forced to wear a yellow star on his clothing. The Jews were degraded and termed "dirty mice." Tom and Jerry was made in order to change the Europeans' perception of mice. One of terms used was "dirty mice."

I'd like to tell you that... It should be noted that mice are very cunning...and dirty.


Iranian civilisation is doomed. One of their top mass media experts thinks that Tom & Jerry were created by Walt Disney. Of course, if you believe that all of Hollywood — and, indeed, every media organisation in the Western World — is all just one big unified conspiring cabal, distinctions between "competing" studios probably don't mean much.



Something you just don't think about.

Mark Liberman has a fascinating post up on Language Log about the adjectives of the British Isles, or, more to the point, the lack of them:

the British Isles have got the most confusing nomenclature around. There are at least 15 names of major overlapping political and geographical entities here, ignoring all the counties and bailiwicks and islands and the like. But the real problem is the endemic shortage of adjectives. Of the 15 names, 8 have no adjectival form, as far as I can tell. One (Scotland) has three different adjectival forms: Scots for the language and (mostly) the people; Scotch for the local distilled liquor; Scottish for everything else, more or less. There are four other (ambiguous) adjectives, all irregular formations with -ish or similar endings: British, English, Irish, Welsh. But the large-scale formal political entities centered in London -- United Kingdom, Great Britain -- are entirely bereft of corresponding adjectives, except for the jokey UKish and the irregular, ambiguous and confusing pair British and Britannic.


There's a table there, to illustrate just how ridiculous our adjective shortage is here. Nothing there that the residents of these islands don't already know, but we just don't usually think about it. It's quite a shock to see it all laid out.



An idiotic git.

Thanks to David T for spotting this gem of an interview with George Galloway:

Halimi: Mr Galloway! Let us deal with the core of the issue immediately. What is your personal position and that of your party towards the events and the demonstrations which have been taking place in the Muslim world against the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet?
...
Galloway: Personally, I condemn these barbaric and evil acts. Today, the objective of the Western states is to control the oil of the Muslims whatever the price. In fact, the cartoons published in Denmark did not surprise me because the Western states have been waging fierce attacks against Islam for years. These began by humiliation, insults and then occupation. Today they reached the point of ridiculing the prophet. This incident is worse than the 11 September attacks in the US and the 7/7 incidents in London. Therefore, today it is the right of Muslims to express their anger and to defend their right and faith.


It's in an Algerian newspaper. For all his pride in not holding back and expressing his true opinions no matter what the opposition, something tells me that Galloway isn't going to be telling the British public any time soon that the publication of some cartoons is a worse attack than 9/11.


Update:

Lots more on this here.



It's snowing!

Yet I can see clear blue sky.

That is all.


Update:

It's not snowing!


Update:

It's snowing!



So that's the problem.

Natalie the Wise links to this important post from Amygdala:

I've despaired of hoping many bloggers will blog much on Darfur. It's only genocide.

If it's not of use as a political football, either against or for G. W. Bush, it's of insufficient concern to blog about. And if one's fellow pack-members aren't blogging about it, aren't swarming about it -- and there are no blog-swarms absent a news hook, or a created campaign (and mostly the latter don't work) -- it's not really news, anyway.

Bloggers aren't the least bit better than the dread "MSM" in their pack-journalism. If anything they're worse, save that there are more bloggers and thus more outliers. But if the leading blogs of Your Side aren't saying "this is important, here's the news, here's the outrage," few bloggers notice.

It's only genoicide.

....

People are dying. Every day.

It's only genocide.


He does, of course, have a point. For myself, I can only say that I tend not to blog about the same thing again and again because I have a deep revulsion for anything like political campaigning — you'll never see any "NO2ID" buttons or purple-finger graphics round here, no matter how much I may agree with the sentiments behind them — and also that I thought that Harry's Place was doing a better job of saying all the right things about the genocide in Sudan than I could ever manage and that there was therefore little point in my saying "Yeah, ditto" — quite the opposite of the reasons Amygdala identifies. Nevertheless, those aren't the most impressive of excuses when it comes to publicising something like this, really, are they? Natalie says:

As I've said before, despair is indeed the reason for silence. It's not just that there seems to be no partisan advantage in talking about it, it is that there seems to be no advantage full stop.


I said something similar here:

One of the more distressing aspects of modern life is the way we're expected to sit back and watch as genocide happens, yet again, and our "leaders" do fuck all about it, yet again.

So I support these guys, who want, through the twin miracles of banners and shouting, to shame the UN into stopping the Darfur genocide. Good luck to them. I really, genuinely hope they succeed. But they won't.


Really, what have any of us seen in our lifetimes to support the idea that this sort of thing will be stopped? Sure, it can be stopped. But we know that it won't. Its being wrong and awful and sad makes that no less true.

Just to make matters worse — as if genocide needs to be any worse — it's in Africa. And, yes, I'm sorry, but that does mean that most people don't give a shit. It's not a matter of racism; it's just a fact that people are more likely to notice the unusual than the usual. Jonah Goldberg puts it very well:

For the last decade or so, people in Sierra Leone, taking one sad example, have been cutting off the arms of other people, many of them children. I bring up Sierra Leone only because pictures from there have recently made their way into the newspapers.

The reason the papers decided to run these pictures of small children holding their food bowls with their elbows and old women walking on their knees is interesting. It's not the barbarism that got the press's attention, it's the fact that barbarism might have stopped. "Hey, this is interesting. They might have stopped butchering each other in this sliver of Africa. Well, that's a dog bites man story."


I can't bring myself to think too much about genocide. It is the single worst type of event in the world, it is occurring constantly, it is only very rarely stopped or even slightly curbed, and there's sod all I can do about it. With apologies to the people of Darfur, thinking too long and too hard about their plight is an emotional investment I simply cannot afford.

That being said, I was listening to the radio a couple of days ago — not the bloody BBC, for once, but Cool FM, whose news reports are generally quite serious and non-patronising, despite the name — and they mentioned Darfur's problems. What they said was that a peace accord was signed a year ago, but the region still suffers from food shortages, poor education, and a lack of medical supplies. No mention that the "peace accord" was a transparent fiction to delay the UN for long enough to finish the genocide, or that the ploy worked. No mention that the reason for the food shortages is the deliberate destruction of crops in order to starve people to death. No mention at all, in fact, that one group of people in Sudan are systematically exterminating the rest of the population. Nope, just food shortages, poor education, and a lack of medical supplies. Perhaps if we build a couple of schools and send them some wheat, everything will be OK.

I had to turn the radio off. I was screaming at it.

If you're in a position to stop this or any other genocide, please do. The rest of us can only despair.



More rubbish.

No sooner do I blog about the bloody bins than we get another bloody bin: the infamous green bin arrived today. This one's for garden waste, though not soil, and it's the same size as the other two, and they're going to collect it every two weeks.

All the houses in this street have small gardens. I generate enough garden clippings to fill this bin maybe twice a year, and I do a lot more gardening than many people. So isn't coming out to collect this thing in a big diesel truck every fortnight a horrible environment-damaging waste of resources?

While we're on the subject, another thing that pisses me off about the recycling is that all cans are supposed to be cleaned before being put in the bin. As a result, our dishwasher is being used markedly more than it used to be. Now, you might say that we should wash the cans by hand, but you'd be wrong: mechanical dishwashers use water, detergent, and energy more efficiently than human ones, making them the more environmentally-friendly option. The really environmentally-friendly option is for the cans to be thrown out dirty and cleaned by the council, because economies of scale mean that the more things you clean at once, the less resources are used to clean each item. This forced recycling is supposed to be for the benefit of the environment, yet the council's policy of insisting that cans be cleaned before they are collected leads to more water and energy being used than necessary and more detergent being put into the water supply than necessary.

There'll be a brown bin soon, for glass. The two of us will need to drink about forty bottles of wine a week to fill it. And I don't like wine. We don't have room for all these bins. I may actually have to put extra paving down and extend our patio, just so that we can fit the bins into our garden. Seriously. And that's not efficient, either.



Thursday, February 23

Good food.

Today is exactly five years since I started to go out with the seriously wonderful phenomenon that is my wife Vic (for the second time, that is: it's also thirteen years and eight days since I started to go out with her). So we took the day off work and went to Portaferry. After the last couple of weeks of sunshine, today, luckily, was freezing wind and drizzle, so we didn't do much in the way of sight-seeing or, indeed, getting out of our nice warm car. But what we did do, which made the trip very much worthwhile, was to go to The Narrows.

The setting's nice, looking out across Strangford Lough, and the food is superb. I had mussels in a cream-and-white-wine sauce, which really couldn't have been any better and came in a proper big portion. Vic had a very tasty cheeseburger, in a soda-bread bun. For desert, she had a Guinness and chocolate brownie with ice cream, which tasted like a chocolate brownie only even better, which is surprising, considering that I hate Guinness. And mine was a Baileys-and-raspberry creme brulee, which was as good as it sounds, by far the best creme brulee I've ever tasted, with a quite thoroughly brulee topping that took a serious stab to break through.

All that and a couple of soft drinks for less than thirty quid. Wonderful.

Not much to say about the food, other than that it tasted dead good. My career as a food writer does not exist.



He should be a superhero.

Saw this guy on TV the other night, and couldn't help but notice that he has the second coolest name ever: Dr Eamon G Phoenix. Fantastic.

(The coolest name ever is, of course, Scoop Jackson.)



Tuesday, February 21

Well, it's got to be worth a try.

In a surprise move, scientists are urging the Church to oppose the teaching of Intelligent Design. You've got to admire the brazenness. If they pull this one off, maybe they can ask the Church to come out against transubstantiation, resurrection, and immaculate conception, too.



Break the American teachers' unions.

Because it's thanks to them that idiocy like this has become policy:

A 16-year-old boy has been expelled from his far northwest suburban high school for doodling what school officials say is a gang symbol in his notebook.

Members of the McHenry Community High School District 156 school board voted Tuesday to expel student Derek Kelly from McHenry East Campus High School for the rest of the school year, according to Derek's mother, Kathy Kelly.

The sketch showed the letters "D.L.K" in the middle of a cross with a spider web in one corner and a crown on top. School officials allegedly told Kathy Kelly the letters stood for "Disciples Latin King," referring to the Latin Kings and Latin Disciples street gangs.

But Kelly said those are also the initials of her son, whose full name is Derek Leon Kelly.


I don't know a lot about gang culture, but isn't the whole point of being in a gang that you're not in any of the other gangs? If the Latin Kings and Latin Disciples are two different gangs, would any of their members draw signs containing the words "Disciples Latin King"? My point being that, even without the kid's intitials being what they are, this would still be stupid.

Crap like this is beginning to seep across the Atlantic, depressingly. No doubt zero-tolerance policies will still be all the rage in Britain twenty years after they've been discredited and abandoned in the US.



Rules for us, rules for them.

Mark Steyn on Naomi Klein:

Miss Klein rages about how distinctive regional identities are being obliterated by a bland remote multinational homogeneity — and she does it through a column in Canada's Globe And Mail, reprinted in The Guardian. Does Miss Klein never spare a thought for the stringy English feminist in her grotty Earl's Court bedsit cranking out good, honest, hand-crafted, distinctively British anti-capitalist columns only to find she's been tossed on the scrapheap because The Guardian finds it easier to outsource cheap mass-produced opinion pieces to some round-the-clock factory in Toronto?

 



Monday, February 20

Rubbish.

There was a bit of a discussion about recycling in the comments of this post a while back. At the time, I said:

Something that pisses me off about recycling is the way it's sold to us as a chargeable benefit. So the local council used to sort your rubbish; now they force you to sort it for them and they up your council tax because they're "giving" you recycling facilities.


Well, in grand I-told-you-so fashion, I've been proven right by events. Imagine my excitement. Ooo.

Our council gave us a new blue bin a few months ago, to go with the grey one. (I might add that they gave us this bin at about seven on a Saturday morning, very noisily, the inconsiderate bastards.) With the blue bin came a list of things that Thou Shalt Recycle, and we were to put it out for collection ('cause, you know, actually coming and getting the bloody bins is beneath them these days) every two weeks. So far, not so annoying.

Turns out, though, that this was a mere testing of the waters of laziness. Now they've seen how much people round here are recycling, they've changed the bin-collection rotas accordingly, and, as of a few weeks ago, the blue and grey bins are collected on alternate weeks. In other words, our non-recyclable rubbish, which used to be collected every week, is now collected every two weeks. Since it's collected on a Monday and they don't work on bank holidays, our rubbish will sometimes not be collected for a month — including over next Christmas, a time of year when, traditionally, no-one throws anything out at all. So the council are now forcing us to do some of the work that they used to do, and they're collecting our rubbish half as often as they used to.

Council tax is being increased by 5.3%.

We hear that green and brown bins are planned. Joy.



Reporting.

This is interesting:

Did you know that the British Embassy in Iran was attacked with petrol bombs on Tuesday, in an anti-cartoon protest? No, neither did I. You would have known if you lived in Germany, the United Arab Emirates or Taiwan but none of our papers seemed to think that the story was important enough to print. Try doing a News Google and you won't find much from the UK media.


For crying out loud. What is wrong with journalism in this country? British soil is under attack from enemy forces. If this isn't news, what is? A good journalist might tie this story in with the last famous UK-versus-Iran freedom-of-speech case and mention the British Foreign Secretary's assurances that the Iranian Government's assurances that Salman Rushdie was no longer in danger were genuine and believable. But even the thirdest-rate of third-rate reporters should be able to, well, report the incident.

I can't help but wonder what the coverage would be like if Yvonne Fletcher were killed today. Well, OK, it'd be condemnatory, because she was a female police officer — The Sun would no doubt call her a "girl cop" — but what if gunmen fired from the Iranian Embassy and killed a male police officer? Just how much stick would the Government get from the BBC for sending in the SAS? Would they even risk the bad PR? And how many British "peace activists" would try to shield the Embassy from the evil British Government?

Now I think about it, of course, I realise that the media would simply blame Bush & Blair — some blaming them in that indirect, well-those-poor-Iranians-were-provoked sort of way we've become so used to; others just going the whole hog and claiming that the shots were actually fired by CIA operatives. (If only the CIA were good enough to infiltrate an enemy embassy. They can barely infiltrate the CIA.)

In other crap reporting news, there's the current raging "abuse" scandal that's been the main story on the news for a week or so now. Remember, no newspaper or broadcaster in the UK will publish any picture of Mohammed because, so they tell us, it would be wrong for them to upset Muslims. However, every newspaper and broadcaster has published this footage of Iraqis being beaten by British soldiers, while simultaneously informing us that this footage will upset Muslims. (And that alone says something, doesn't it? Why wouldn't the footage upset Christians, who are supposed to be non-violent? And why wouldn't footage of Christians being beaten or, say, having their throats cut upset Muslims? Why, when there is footage of Christians suffering, don't any of our journalists ever think to say that it will upset Christians across the whole world? Because underlying all their reporting on Islam lies the bedrock assumption that all Muslims think alike, that all Muslims react to everything in the same way, that a slight against one Muslim is a slight agaisnt them all. If Islam were a race, I'd call that racist.)

The main thing to bear in mind about this story is that, had the British soldiers simply shot those Iraqis dead, there would be no story. During a war, side A throw grenades at side B and side B react by shooting side A? Big deal. Sure, a lot of people who oppose the war would have continued to do so, but they wouldn't have singled that one story out for special treatment: it would have just been another plank in their general anti-war platform. But merely beating the grenade-throwers gets the Prime Minister apologising and soldiers arrested. What does this tell our soldiers? It tells them: in future, shoot.

The BBC call the grenade-throwers "youths". Quoth Jon:

Ah, yes, youths. Doubtless out scrumping apples when they got jumped by crazed squaddies. Pretty much the whole of the [mainstream media] has taken the same line. I suppose we can count ourselves lucky they didn't go the whole way and call them 'scallywags'.


On the BBC this morning, they were "demonstrators". True, insofar as pretty much any action demonstrates something. Among other things, the youths were demonstrating momentum and thermodynamics.

No report I've seen has managed to mention the youths' throwing of grenades — if it bothered to mention such a minor detail at all — without calling them "home-made" grenades. I don't understand why such an unimportant detail would be reported so thoroughly. After all, our own armed forces are trained to improvise weapons out of whatever's lying around, just in case they find themselves in trouble and unarmed. All "home-made" means is that it didn't come off a production line. Every bomb the IRA ever planted was home-made. A plane was blown out of the sky over Lockerbie by a home-made bomb. Three tube trains and a bus were blown up in London last July by home-made bombs. Is it supposed to make us feel better? Or is it just because the public no longer understand the word "improvised"?

But Alison at Making Headlines has managed to uncover just how bad the reporting really is. After much trawling, she's found this:

(Filed: 23/03/2004)

Fourteen British soldiers were wounded, three seriously, and some set on fire when a demonstration turned violent yesterday in Basra, southern Iraq.


That's the same riot in which the beatings occurred. As Alison points out, since this story was covered by the media at the time, what this means is that, despite the riot being their top story for over a week, they haven't managed to research it to the extent of checking their own, or each others', archives. Pathetic.

John Reid's right:

Troops, he will say, are now operating on an "uneven playing field of scrutiny", where the forces' actions are analysed down to the "level of the single private soldier", while the enemy "refuses any scrutiny at all and endeavours to exploit our highly prized free media against us".


He might want to ask his own Prime Minister and the Ministry of Defense to back him up on that, rather than apologising to the Iraqis who set British troops alight and having the victims arrested.



Sunday, February 19

A couple of questions.

All sorts of dead clever people read this blog, so I'm sure one of you can help me with this.

Firstly, what happens to unused trademarks? Can I start making chocolate bars called "Marathon" or kitchen cleaner called "Jif"?

Secondly, there is, somewhere ont' Web, an animation of Margaret Thatcher flying down from outer space with lasers shooting out of her eyes and killing the killer space rabbits who are destroying the cities, all accompanied by some rather light-hearted Scandinavian jazz. Can anyone tell me where it is?



Tuesday, February 14

Rowr rowr rowr.

Courtesy of the ever-informative Inkycircus, here is the most photogenic news story ever:

Koza, a 10-week-old lion cub, and Cairo, a slightly younger but at the moment larger Italian mastiff, are being housed together for one or two hours at a time in Koza's room in the park's nursery.

Tuesday morning, when the two were allowed to mingle, the energetic puppy sniffed and then jumped all over the lion cub for about a minute, then spent the next hour far more interested in a stick he busily gnawed.

But yesterday, the two frolicked for more than 15 minutes, with Cairo nibbling on Koza's ears, which the cub seemed not terribly happy about.


Ear-nibbling is what dogs do, Koza. Get used to it.

You'll be pleased to hear that there are loads of photos.



Monday, February 13

More tactics.

That George Dubya Bush: sneakier than a sneaking sneak. I mean, just look at this:

A courtroom battle seen as a test case for the teaching of science in America ended in a decisive victory for evolution yesterday when a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that it was unconstitutional to teach "intelligent design" in biology class.

....

Judge Jones's verdict was ambitious in scope, dealing not only with the actions of the Dover school district but also with the very notion of "intelligent design", an idea which surfaced 15 years ago following the failure of earlier efforts to introduce traditional biblical creationism in public schools.


Ha! That'll show those idiotic Bush-voting backwards religious zealots.

Anticipating that his decision would come under attack from the religious right, the judge, who was appointed by President George Bush ...


Cough, sputter.

... was careful to state that he was not an activist judge, but dealing with proceedings provoked by the actions of the school district. The judge wrote that "intelligent design" was a religious notion that advances Christianity, and so was in violation of constitutional provisions against the establishment of religion.


Now, this is seriously sneaky. As any fule no, the Republicans are waging a War on Science, with Dubya at the helm. To further advance this war, he has appointed a federal judge who is thoroughly committed to the Constitutional ideal of keeping religious teaching out of American schools and has no time for those who attempt to disguise religious theories as scientific ones. Talk about outflanking your enemies. This must be why the Democrats have been doing everything they can to keep his appointees off the bench.

Judge Jones plays his part well. Just look at the things this guy's written:

"We find that the secular purposes claimed by the board amount to pretext for the board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom," Judge Jones wrote. ... "The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere relabelling of creationism, and not a scientific theory," he wrote. ... Judge Jones was categorical that "intelligent design" was not science, and that its attacks on evolution should not be admitted into the classroom. "This tactic is at best disingenuous and at worst a canard. The goal of the [movement] is not to encourage critical thought but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID."


I am in awe of the level of cunning on display here.



Republican spies.

This is odd.

One of the many places that link to this place is The Broom. Go to The Broom and you'll see the link to Squander Two on the right-hand side. (I promise this gets more interesting.) Carrie, The Broom's proprietress, has put in little descriptions of the blogs she links to, so, if you hover your mouse over the Squander Two link and don't have a crap browser, up pops a little box containing the words

Bald & Thin, likes pizza


As it happens, this is an accurate description of me. Though I'm not that bald. Balding would be fairer. A bit thin on top, certainly. But this is (ha) splitting hairs. Yes, I'm thin, I'm bald, and I like pizza. What I am not, however, is someone who blogs about being thin, being bald, or liking pizza.

Searching through my own archives ('cause I'm that sad and that bored), I see that, in a year and a half of blogging, I have mentioned my physique only once — and what I actually said was that I used to be skinny but had bulked up a bit. Just once have I mentioned that I have taken a bite of pizza. OK, so it's reasonable to assume that, if I didn't like it, I wouldn't have been eating it, but still: my pizza-eating is hardly endemic round here. There's not enough info in this blog to surmise that my liking pizza is a key part of my identity, is what I'm saying.

Crucially, I have never mentioned my baldness.

Carrie knows these things, but she does not know them through reading my blog. Am I being watched?



Thursday, February 9

Tactics.

As you may have noticed, an unofficial strike is crippling Northern Ireland's postal service at the moment. Apparently, a manager took some notes while in the presence of one of his staff. Yes, I know: shocking. This "intimidation" has triggered the strike. The postal "workers" are objecting to the very possibility of disciplinary measures being used against them.

Now, I've worked for the Royal Mail twice in my time, so let me just say something about the appropriateness of disciplinary measures: they're needed, badly. Not for all postmen, obviously, but for a significant minority. The Royal Mail contains a sizable number of employees who steal mail, deliberately destroy mail, take mail home with them because they can't be bothered delivering it, think that the correct street is as accurate as they need to be, open birthday cards to look for money, are rude to customers, and sometimes even assault customers. Some of the Royal Mail's managers try to do something about these bastards. Others don't — mainly, I suspect, out of fear of one of Britain's most militant unions. After all, if you just put up with a few rotten employees, all you get is a load of complaints from customers. Try to discipline them and you bring an entire province's mail to its knees. Who wants to be the guy who made that decision?

In Belfast's main sorting office, the centre of the strike, a network of closed walkways with darkened windows is built into the ceiling. These were built so that security guards can keep an eye on the workers without being seen themselves. They weren't cheap to build, and the security guards aren't cheap to hire. No company invests in something like that unless they need it. Enough of Belfast's postmen were criminals that the investment made sense. Some of these guys clearly need the occasional bit of discipline.

But, regardless of the merits of the strike, the strikers are idiots. If London's Tube drivers go on strike, people switch to buses and cars for the duration, but then come gratefully back to the trains when the strike finishes. Driving through London simply isn't a reasonable alternative. If an airline's workers strike, again, customers flood back to the planes when the strike's over. What you going to do — go to Florida by boat? Workers like these are in a position of power over their customers. Whether their strikes are reasonable or not, they at least make sense tactically. But, when the Royal Mail have a strike, customers switch to email. And, as the Royal Mail's own research shows, a sizable portion never switch back. Every one of these strikes reduces the Royal Mail's custom permanently. That's why so much of their advertising these days focuses on things like greetings cards, real-world objects that have to be sent physically — think of their "I saw this and thought of you" campaign. They're not trying to expand their existing customer base. They're trying to create a new customer base because a big chunk of their existing one is gone and they know it's not coming back.

If you worked for the Royal Mail, would you take action that you knew was going to decrease the number of Royal Mail employees?



Wednesday, February 8

Two great quotes.

House of Dumb's always good for a laugh — how does any one man keep up all that ranting? — is he hot to the touch? — but Jon's outdone himself here:

[That David Cameron is simply following in the Conservative tradition] is true in so far as the Conservative Party has been useless throughout most of history. Yes, Churchill was a Conservative, but so was Neville Chamberlain. Ditto, we can’t talk about the achievements of Lady Thatcher without noting the role of the Tories in letting things get that screwed up in the first place.


That's it, right there: why I'm right-wing(ish) but not a Tory. The Tories are bloody awful. I might add that we can’t talk about the achievements of Tony Blair without noting the role of Margaret Thatcher in overcentralising power in the first place.

And:

desirable social ends can best be achieved by bringing together the very best brains in the public sector, setting them to work on a particular problem, then calling in an air strike.

 



Monday, February 6

I hadn't even thought of that.

Mark Steyn has a good point:

Even if you were overcome with a sudden urge to burn the Danish flag, where do you get one in a hurry in Gaza? Well, OK, that's easy: the nearest European Union Humanitarian Aid and Intifada-Funding Branch Office. But where do you get one in an obscure town on the Punjabi plain on a Thursday afternoon? If I had a sudden yen to burn the Yemeni or Sudanese flag on my village green, I haven't a clue how I'd get hold of one in this part of New Hampshire.


Imagine: big fabric warehouses and stockpiles of sewing machines, at secret strategic locations across the Muslim world.


Update:

Andy has found this:

When entrepreneur Ahmed Abu Dayya first heard that Danish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad were being reprinted across Europe, he knew exactly what his customers in Gaza would want: flags to burn.

Abu Dayya ordered 100 hard-to-find Danish and Norwegian flags for his Gaza City shop and has been doing a swift trade.

"I do not take political stands. It is all business," he said in an interview.


Brilliant. And it looks like I was right about the sewing machines:

Last year, he said the Palestinian Authority ordered 60,000 flags ahead of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. Workers at one factory stitched some 3,000 pennants a day.