Thursday, February 07, 2008

[pineapple politics] lite, trite or right


Which hits home more, this:
Once again, it is the way fresh fruit is presented here that has made my day. I have not seen pineapple cut quite like this anywhere else. [And again, they will do this for you in the simplest bar.]
or this:
The retired detective at the centre of the Sadiq Khan bugging case was bugged for months by fellow officers as part of a "witch-hunt" intended to stop him becoming a whistleblower, it has been claimed.

Former Detective Sergeant Mark Kearney, 49, was subjected to months of surveillance with his friend Sally Murrer, a local newspaper reporter, ostensibly because police suspected him of giving tip-offs on local crime stories.

But Mrs Murrer, 49, is convinced the huge police investigation, in which her car was bugged and secretly fitted with a tracking device, was a "smokescreen" to ensure Mr Kearney was discredited before he could go public with details of how he was ordered to bug the MP.

... or how about this?
Tsk, tsk, pushing Hillary on the little people to continue the policies of the Council on Foreign Relations, The Federal Reserve and the New World Order. Pres. Bill Clinton was a member of the CFR. The repeal of the Glass Steagall Act of 1933, NAFTA, and the China Trade Agreement were in the best interests of the elitist. And due to Clinton's policies, we, the little people are being robbed with the contrived subprime mortgage, credit crunch, and inflation to steal the wealth of the middle class by the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs.....
And there is a debate right now between Guido, Samisdata and Tiberius:
Where I concede is that Paul Staines is right: there is a separation between Paul and Guido, between the person and the blog persona. Perhaps because this blog is so much the creation of my personal whim and not of any attempt to create a persona, that means that I underestimated that.
Political blogs who take themselves very, very seriously abound but ultimately it's a small pool in comparison to the general populace out there. I agree with numbers 2-4 above as I've a political mind but not exclusively political and I'd argue that the all-consuming politblogger who likes nothing better than velociraptor debate would scathingly view someone speaking of how pineapple was presented as trite and insignificant.

There is a huge pool of people out there for whom a constant diet of daily politics is as interesting as intestinal worms. This blog's readers come from different walks of life and different persuasions. Does that make them trite, as our Velociraptor Anonymous says:
There is no debate worthy of the name on your blog, merely pre-arranged visits to generate stats, and stupid banal comments ... Even the debate by your friends, when they can be bothered, is contrived, at best. You may want to run a hierarchical system based on whether some one is certified. Many of your bloggers should be!
Easy to rage over issues on which we're largely agreed and where our pool of blogfriends equally rage to each other and everyone's happy. Except it's not about raging to each other - it's about presenting the message to a pool of non-politicos who are not interested, who have their own agendas, including pineapple and who have their own lives.

The way pineapple is presented is an aspect of living which comes under the heading of "taste" and "rising above the banal", equally important issues in today's tendency to mediocrity. All right, police corruption is a major issue. So how should a blogger get that message across to people out there who have a life, how to get them interested in corrupt politicians or how dire Clinton and the CFR really are?

Firstly, in small doses, without the stridency which I've been equally guilty of falling into. Secondly, realizing that the pool of non-politically thinking people is not certifiable but actually amenable to an idea if it's presented understandably and with respect for the reasoning ability of the reader. The commenter who shows not a great deal of understanding of an issue has simply shown he's not au fait with the issue. OK, so the blogger has to do better next time.

The Case for Slowly Educating

Education doesn't have to mean some sort of nazi force-feeding of names and statistics and resorting to insults when the other doesn't go along with you.

Instead, it's a war of attrition, an education process where most people will listen or internalize if it's presented the right way in the first place. The onus is on the presenter to interest the reader - not that of the reader to knuckle down and start howling with rage.

I howl with rage myself because I've read the material and followed the links but that's no guarantee anyone else is going to be equally upset. You write:
I've given you so many pointers to serious aspects, it just beggars belief that you missed them all.
Who says I've missed them? Who says that readers didn't click on those links, follow some of them, read them and note them at the back of the mind? Just because an army of non-political readers don't take up the cudgels and storm the ramparts, a la Rik Mayall the urban guerilla, doesn't mean it didn't register.

The Brit in particular is attuned to passive resistance and cold shouldering. It's more the Italian who's into the impassioned debate. Your links, Anonymous, are invaluable and I'd suggest that many people for whom Mark Kearney or Hutton are not household words are now cognisant of them.

Then you go and say:
Carry on thinking with your balls, James. You'll get some nooky in the end.
... and all the good work you've done disintegrates because who's going to take anything you say seriously after that? There's a place for your style, even here but there's also a place for "steady as she goes", which is the style more favoured by the great silent majority out there.

The Case for Pineapple

There are some very nasty people out there who are hellbent not just on enslaving society in the next few years but on defining the agenda in dire terms. Therefore everyone must be in the same dire frame of mind, no one is allowed to enjoy life any more for its own sake.

Those exposing this are equally sucked into a dire life on the edge and pleasure simply ceases, to be replaced by endless outrage at how terrible life has been made by the animals up top. I'd argue that the question of how pineapple is cut is vital to concern ourselves with because it thumbs its nose at the opposed agenda and says, 'Hey, this life is to be enjoyed, not bemoaned.'

The Case for Bollocks

I have two choices. I can either spend my life writing tomes of anti-cabal literature, raging against the state 24/7 or else I can spend some time enjoying nooky with my girlfriend, spend some time appreciating beauty and spend some time presenting anti-cabal articles.

[thursday snow] dance of the falling man

One of my friends wrote yesterday and said I'd been quiet and then, "How's the book coming on?"

That sums it up. Nearly done rewriting but it's meant less of everything else and people have either drifted away or are a little peeved. At the same time, the internet keeps dropping out. I had tabs for Harry, Ellee, Ross and Bunny up yesterday and tried to comment - phut!

My friend is visiting this morning to help sort all this out.

Snow - last evening two girls I know visited and so that meant going our for a walk but there was a condition they call "lyot pod snyegom" on all the roads - ice under loose snow. Walking along - whoosh - on your back and cracking your head.

This creates the Snow Dance.

Can you imagine maybe a hundred people picking their way along the path, not stepping normally but putting a foot out to the left, a foot to the right, toppling over backwards and the legs peddling as if riding a bicycle, fingers touching the ground for balance then springing into a crouched but basicially upright position?

And absolutely everyone doing it?

Great training for balance and the start of any number of new dance crazes and new relationships. Let me explain - any female within range will grab your arm to keep herself upright and now you have a pas de deux or even quatre at times.

I've resolved to buy that camera and bring you these images but it might be spring before I can find a good store so don't hold your breath.

Have a lovely Thursday and don't slip over.

Politics

Banks push up mortgage rates

Not worth a separate post but very depressing to see the way the Democrat delegates are shaping. In home news, 'Greedy' banks push up mortgage rates. So what's new?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

[monplaisir] magnificence of nature and man

Pyetrdvoryetz, near St. Petersburg

Versailles is sheer magnificence on a gargantuan scale. Schoenbrunn is sheer elegance. But of the "Russian Versailles", Peterhof, Petergof, Pyetrdvoryetz, whatever you wish to call it, by the ocean near St Petersburg, Alexander Benois, in 1913, wrote:

Among the fabulous palaces of Versailles, Aranjuez, Caserta, Schoenbrunn and Potsdam, Peterhof occupies a place entirely apart. It is often compared to Versailles but that is due to a misunderstanding. Peterhof is endowed with an utterly special character by the sea. It is as if Peterhof was born out of seafoam called into being by the command of a mighty maritime ruler.

The Queen's Chamber, Versailles
Versailles rules over the land ... The fountains at Versailles are an elegant adornment, which could be done without. Peterhof is the residence of the sovereignof the seas. The fountains in Peterhof are no afterthought - they are the main thing. They are a symbolic representation of the watery realm, a cloud of spray from the sea that washes the shore at Peterhof.
Le Hameau de la Reine, Versailles

If Versailles is a triumph of architecture and layout, Peterhof is a triumph of engineering. At the height of its construction, 1715 to 1723, Le Blonde, Braunstein, Michetti and Zemtsov, the sculptor Rastrelli, the master fountain builder Paul Sualem and the hydraulic engineer Vasily Tuvolkov, together with a host of others, were all carving out this amazing series of canals, cascades, grotto, terraces and palaces.

The Cascade from the main palace, Pyetrdvoryetz

Perhaps the greatest technological achievement of Peterhof is that all of the fountains operate without the use of pumps. Water is supplied from natural springs and collects in reservoirs in the Upper Gardens. The elevation difference creates the pressure that drives most of the fountains of the Lower Gardens, including the Grand Cascade. The Samson Fountain is supplied by a special aqueduct, over four km in length, drawing water and pressure from a high-elevation source.

Pyetrdvoryetz truly connects with the sea via this canal.

Then, after all that is said, comes the magnificently small scale, simple Monplaisir, right down by the water itself:
Monplaisir is as old as Peterhof itself. The history of the whole palace and park ensemble began with the construction of Monplaisir. The palace was Peter the Great's favourite creation, and it was he who gave it this name. The Emperor himself chose the site for the construction and sketched the layout of the building. It is hardly possible to find any other place where his personal habits and tastes could be so strongly felt.

Garden of Monplaisir - my pleasure, Pyetrdvoryetz, near St. Petersburg

This place, Monplaisir and le Hameau de la Reine, at Versailles, continue to haunt me and hold a special place in my life. I suppose adding to the piquancy was that I was at each with the same girl and both places also feature strongly in the denouement of my first book, not that that is relevant.

Balustrade at Monplaisir, on the seafront at Pyetredvoretz

There are places in the world which are no doubt overrated but there are some which reward. If you love the sea and its interaction with the land, then Pyetrdvoretz really must be on your list to see at least once before you die.

French influence at the court of Peter the Great

[kosovo update] mitrovicaen republic the way to go

Centre of the new Mitrovicaen Republic

Predictable pap from the WSJ but with two sensible observations:

By a narrow margin, Serbs on Sunday re-elected Boris Tadic, who wants to bring the country closer to Europe, over the pro-Russia candidate. But his government already staunchly opposed Kosovo independence.

The ... Serbian enclave around the city of Mitrovica. Some politicians there, backed by Belgrade, promise to break away from Kosovo.

If Kosovo becomes an independent republic, the rot sets in, in two ways:

1. The domino effect begins, e.g. Republika_Srpska, Chechnya and one can't help but conclude that this is in line with U.S. foreign policy in the region, which is determined by the CFR*.

2. Serbia solidifies and hardens its line, with the Mitrovicaen Region initially breaking away and a more or less permanent state of war ready to break out at any time.

The cynical powers destabilizing southern Europe at this moment are fully aware of this scenario and that's why an independent Serbian enclave in the north of Kosovo is the only viable solution.

But this won't happen and Serbia, one half of the ancient Albanian conflict, will be ignored in this done deal. Ignoring one half of a conflict is hardly sensible foreign policy unless one wishes to see instability in a region. Then it makes eminent sense.

*the Council on Foreign Relations, America's most influential group devoted to US foreign policy

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

[high treason] signing sovereignty away

Forget the rhetoric, forget politicking. Here is what happened in France on 29 May 2005:
A referendum was held in France to decide whether the country should ratify the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. The result was a victory for the "No" campaign, with 55% of voters rejecting the treaty on a turnout of 69%.
The question put to voters was:
Approuvez-vous le projet de loi qui autorise la ratification du traité établissant une Constitution pour l'Europe ? "Do you approve the bill authorising the ratification of the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe?"
Is there some way you can explain to me how this constitutes a legitimate mandate from the people to set up the EU as a state? By what legal terminology can this mean that the people voted Yes?

Here is what happened over these few days now:
Today, France’s deputies and senators meeting in Parliament in Versailles ratified by a vote of 560 to 181 the constitutional revision to allow the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon without the need for a referendum. The result of this voting opens the way for the final ratification, Thursday, first at the National Assembly, then the Senate. Out of 893 present, 741 voted. France is the 5th country after Hungary, Slovenia, Romania and Malta to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, in which they sign their sovereignty away.
I take issue with only one semantical point. France did not sign away its rights, if by France you mean the French people. They voted 55% No. Their political leaders did sign away their sovereignty and in national terms, that constitutes high treason, which Wiki defines this way:
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's country.
Please explain how a clearly expressed view of a national people being deliberately ignored in the creation of a new state at the behest of another nationality does not constitute high treason?

Britain is next.

[super tuesday] pass the paper bag

Obama and the Sisterhood

At a packed Obama rally in Los Angeles, Winfrey addressed a backlash from some of her female viewers, who have accused her of being a traitor to the sisterhood because she was supporting a man over a woman for US president.

"I was both surprised by that comment and insulted, because I've been a woman my whole life and every part of me believes in the empowerment of women but the truth is I'm a free woman," the world famous television talk show host said'. "And being free means you get to think for yourself."

"I will never vote for anyone based on gender or race," she said. "I'm voting for Barack Obama not because he's black, I'm voting for Barack Obama because he is brilliant."

Clinton and Her Superbowl Victory

"Super Bowl, Super Tuesday . . . we've got one down, let's get the other one!" Senator Clinton said as she jumped in the air and high-fived a group of children.

Where's a paper bag?

Monday, February 04, 2008

[hamsters in the rain] and other emergencies

For what reason would you call them?

South Wales police force has published a list of top time-wasting 999 calls during the past year in an attempt to convince people not to pick up the phone unless it's really necessary.

According to icWales, the highlight of 2007 came when one woman demanded officers come and cuff her boyfriend because he'd put her hamster out in the rain. Another caller explained: “My husband has the TV remote and won’t let me watch EastEnders.”

The list continues with the anxious citizen who admitted: “I don’t have £1 for a supermarket trolley”, and one flustered bookworm who offered: “A friend has my library card, can you come and arrest her?”

Or the bloke who enquired: “Can the police come round and take my mother-in-law away? She has been here for 18 days.”

I can think of some choice ones of my own but this is a family blog.

[punxsutawney phil] six more weeks - great


Six more weeks of it, folks!
At the curiously-named Gobbler's Knob, in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, just a few moments ago, the little furry form of Punxsutawney Phil cautiously emerged, sniffed around for a bit...and then quietly muttered in Groundhogese that his own shadow he could see. So according to the seer of seers, the prognosticator of prognosticators, an early Spring is out of the question for 2008.
Good thing too! I love the winter so much. You've all seen the film, of course.

[news] more and more boring every day


Yawn 1

You really wonder about the French:

Citing economic worries, 55 per cent of those surveyed said they had a negative view of his performance, according to one poll. But displeasure with Mr. Sarkozy as a person ran deeper. Three out of four people objected to what was called his “exhibitionist” style.

“For the traditionalist and right-wing electorate, he was just too much,” François d'Orcival, an editorial writer at the conservative magazine Valeurs Actuelles, said in an interview with Europe 1 radio. “He broke with their image of what the presidential family should be. So this marriage – even though it's his third marriage – could help calm the waters.”

Mr. Sarkozy's ex-wife, Cecilia, refused to move into the presidential residence after his election last May. She made a point of dismissing the role of first lady as boring, saying she had no intention of being “a potted plant.”

OK, so it's all over - personally I think she's wrong for a First Lady but maybe she'll grow up and surprise.

Yawn 2

So Eli Manning brought his team back to score with 35 seconds to play with a 13-yard toss to Plaxico Burress. Big deal.

Yawn 3

Wendy Alexander cash donations. What the hell does it matter where the money comes form? Why is everyone all tied up in knots over this issue when they could save time and money concentrating on real issues like Nationalism in Formula 1? And are you really interested in Hain?

Anticipation 1

Super Tuesday tomorrow. McCain v the other two:

On the Democratic side, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama were enmeshed in a tough national fight, illustrated by polls showing the race had tightened both nationally and in key states voting on Tuesday where Mrs. Clinton had once enjoyed a comfortable lead. They include California, Missouri, New Jersey and Arizona.

Not so foregone for Clinton as supposed. She really is hated, isn't she? Question of course - can McCain defeat either?

More important than this is the worried scrutiny of countries such as Russia for whom the election of one candidate over another thousands of kilometres away is of enormous significance, despite anything said publicly. The U.S. puts itself about the globe so aggressively that their choice of leader assumes enormous importance, as it does with all the rag tag smaller countries.

I always liked that one about the big countries acting like gangsters and the small ones acting like prostitutes.

[rudolf] and the pc army

There is the Swearblogger who is also a sharp and erudite pundit, such as DK, Mr. Eugenides, Reactionary Snob and Longrider [the latter a little tame of late].

A variant on that is the Creative Swearblogger like Flying Rodent.

Then there are the straight pundits with a twist of wry like Iain Dale, Steve Green, Cassilis and Harry Haddock.

There is the soft blogger, often a lady and the special purpose blogger.

Then there is the whimsical such as Beaman, Bryan Appleyard and Deogulwulf and you either like that or you don't. Personally, I really like the latter's series of Fewtrils which I've posted a few times. Here is a selection of his latest offerings:

Helvetica is rightly deemed the typeface that best typifies modernism: it is bland and functional. Of its aesthetic qualities, others say otherwise:
The Helvetica Medium lower-case ‘a’ . . . is the most beautiful two-dimensional form ever designed. Its luxurious sensual curves are balanced by points of crisp tension. Its lovely counter makes me think of Mozart. [1]
The pretension is by-the-by, but what gets my goat is that the name of Mozart is doomed to suffer from its invocation by blighters wishing to impart the aura of aesthetic genius to ugliness and insipidity.

Fewtril no.231

History is no keen judge: the silliest affairs can become the profoundest events, and the weakest ideas the strongest currents.

Fewtril no.228

I’ll never fit in; I have trouble faking outrage.

Fewtril no.226

Some might say we are blessed by political moralism, in that for every matter about which one might feel guilty, there are a thousand unconscionable ways in which one might feel absolved — so long as one remains an adherent. Yet even if one were to succumb to this graceless convenience, guilt would find its own way, attaching itself at last to one’s own existence and advantages.

and a little contribution to the PC [ugggh!] debate:

Rudolph the Valued Member of the Reindeer Community

“[I]nclusive school programming may allow children to perceive . . . reindeer such as Rudolph as a reindeer, not as a ‘red-nosed reindeer’.”

Susan Gately, “A Textual Deconstruction of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Utilitarian, Mechanistic, and Static Constructions of Disability in Society and in SchoolsEssays in Philosophy, Vol. 9:1, January 2008, wherein we happily learn that “Rudolph eventually rejects the institutionalized notion that one with a red nose has no worth.”

Lord preserve us from people who use titles like Destiny's Child.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

[anagrams] ten to titillate

Paris says: 'If I can do them, you can do them but I can't really do them, you know. Let's make a video together instead.'

1 'In his patrol.'
2 'Now more grand jobs.'
3 'Blush, war geek ogre.'
4 'Unhappily ransacks zealots.'
5 'Do hot crow.'
6 'Slow sleek melancholic.'
7 'Only I can thrill.'
8 'I join anal glee.
9 'Aha! Demi-human, odd jam.'
10 Shh! Image jam.'

a 'Doctor Who'
b 'George Walker Bush'
c 'Hillary Clinton'
d 'Paris Hilton'
e 'Angelina Jolie'
f 'James Higham'
g ''James Gordon Brown'
h 'Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy'
i ''Mahmoud Ahmadinejad'
j 'Welshcakes Limoncello'

No peeking now!

1d, 2g, 3b, 4h, 5a, 6j, 7c, 8e, 9i, 10f

Bonus anagram

'Feminism' anagrams to 'I'm fine Ms.'

[allegiances] regions within regions


How careful do you have to be when referring to nationality? I wrote this:
If you were to walk out of my front door onto the corridor, there are two Muslim families on the left, two Russian on the right, then another Russian [Orthodox] and Muslim. Lots of children, one old couple and then us in here.

When we speak, it's in Russian [language] and the couple on the left is the closest thing we have to yuppy [anyone unhappy over this term?]. No one feels any significant ethnic difference - our biggest issue is the rubbish disposal service and don't even start me on this outrageous backsliding into greed.

They've stopped the decades old automatic removal system and now you have to phone some number and pay for them to come and get your rubbish. Haven't had time to get into this yet but will do so tomorrow. Meanwhile, the bags of rubbish accumulate.

So the type of ethnic tension in Kosovo and Israel does not see the light of day. Why? The answer's pretty obvious - everyone is into domestic issues, making ends meet, improving our lot and so on.
Ian P immediately and quite rightly took issue with the word Muslim placed alongside Russian. So let's get right down to this ethnic issue, starting with the Britain/UK/England/EU Region question.

Of course, the tension over Rutland is part of folklore and the fact that "Rutland is the county in England with the highest Total Fertility Rate at 2.81" leads one to question what residents do at night.

The question of Taunton being historically part of Minehead already, is discussed in the video below. The ancient struggle for old Williton, torn between Taunton and Minehead, has blighted this area for generations. It might still blow up into open war and illustrates the problem of historicity and ethnic groupings.

Cut to Toque, who wants England to stand according to the "traditional" boundaries, as distinct from the EU monster imposed ones and I couldn't agree more. So, no Northumberland, only the once and future Northanhymbre, taking in Yorkshire and the North-East, as in my sidebar.

Who'd agree with this these days?

I don't speak "Northanhymbrean", just English and the Yorkshire accent is virtually non-existent although I can mimic my father. So when home, I'm seen as foreign or worse, a Southerner. The Southerners say, 'Touch of the antipodaean in there, I think" but the Australians used to call me "that Pom with the la-di-da accent". Where does that leave the Higham, as he's half Oirish on his mother's side, the family split between counties Cork and Antrim?

I'd like to ask Guthrum where he's from - from Wessex or is he a Brit or an Englishman? What of Kernow? I'd like to ask Colin Campbell if he's a Crow-eater, a Scot or an Australian. Whom does he support in the Test?

Are your allegiances to your town, region, county, state or nation? Prodicus noted:
A town is too small. A continent is too big and lacks tribal or quasi-familial bonds strong enough to hold it together - an empire likewise.
Where do we stop with this thing? The Mappa Mundi concedes Cornwall as separate and Dave Cole refers to the Stannaries or do you perhaps pay tribute to Gododdin or the Kingdom of Strathclyde? Perhaps you're a West-sider or a Northerner?

And what of Berwick, the Scottish town or is that English? What of Monmouthshire, the English county or is that Welsh?

Where's the U.S. Canadian border? What of the Ontario flare-up? Will there be open war?

Where are you from?

Have I asked too many questions?



Friday, February 01, 2008

[day in the life] trying to beat up the banal

I'm running this because a few readers said they liked the 'slice of life' posts - nothing really special to report on from today:

Saw a kind gesture today and it was nice.

Had a lecture and seminar [first day back] and it wasn't actually the 150 I mentioned yesterday but only 58 correspondence girls from the top two groups in the 5th course - so we were talking serious brainpower [mentioned in the feminism post below].

The air inside the room was fetid and full of everyone's coughing and general sickness [it's going around the city currently] and I suffer from an allergy [possibly rhinitis]. A few minutes in and the girls started donning coats and hats while I was in shirt and tie, so I had to close the window, dammit. They pointed out, politely, that it was actually minus 10 out there.

With the windows now closed they warmed up and took off the coats and hats but I started to go down from the air and had to stop and go outside five or six times.

After the last time, two of them got up and opened the window again themselves, which suited me fine but was clearly against their own interests. How often would someone do that?

Someone took a photo of today's events [can't see why] and she promised to send it to me and I'll post it here when I get it.

Then it was over to the Min and when asked by his secretary whether I wanted coffee or tea, I said I'd have what he had. Sighing, she said, 'Look, what do you really want?'

'Coffee, coffee.'

'Are you sure?'

'Yes.'

When he arrived, there was my coffee on the table, along with his tea. Just before we got down to business, he wasn't satisfied. He sniffed the aroma, looked over at my coffee and wanted to change to coffee himself. I wanted to change the coffee for tea but it never occurred to us to just swap and so the secretary came in to find out what we really wanted.

He ended up with coffee plus tea and I stuck with the coffee. 'You're absolutely sure before I go?' she asked. Nods all round and she went.

He then looked over and asked, 'You sure you really want coffee?'

'Yes, yes, absolutely.'

Little bit knackered now and off to bed - it will have to wait till Sunday to revamp the blogroll, adding Selena, among others. And yes, the internet changeover went through all right. Have a good evening.

Night night.

[kosovo] february independence or holocaust


Otto von Bismark was right on the money:

If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans.

Kosovo is in the process of announcing independence right now in January/February 2008, backed by the troika of the U.S., Britain and France and once various elections are out of the way:

In his comments to reporters, Mr Thaci [Kosovo Province president] repeated earlier statements that a declaration would be made in co-ordination with the European Union and the United States.

However:

A declaration of independence by Kosovo's President or Prime Minister is expected to be followed by a similar announcement from Serb leaders in northern Kosovo. "You can be sure of that. It will happen the very same day or the next day," said Oliver Ivanovic, a moderate Serb politician in northern Kosovo.

Spengler of the Asian Times says:

If Serbia and Russia draw a line in the sand over the independence of Kosovo, we may observe the second occasion in history when a Muslim advance on Europe halted on Serbian soil. The first occurred in 1456, three years after the fall of Constantinople, when Sultan Mehmed II was thrown back from the walls of Belgrade, "The White City", by Hungarian and Serb defenders.

The Siege of Belgrade "decided the fate of Christendom", wrote the then Pope Calixtus III. Not for nothing did J R R Tolkien name his fictional stronghold of Minas Tirith "The White City".

Serbia and Russia are correct to offer partition rather than independence for Kosovo, that is, breaking off the Christian-majority municipalities of the north and attaching them to Serbia proper, while permitting the Muslim majority to determine its own fate. This is the obvious, humane and common sense solution; the fact that the State Department refuses to consider it inflames Russia's worst fears about America's intent.

Former ambassador Richard Holbrooke warned in the March 13 Washington Post that war would erupt if Russia attempted to "water down" the Kosovo independence plan. Holbrooke added, "Moscow 's point about protecting fraternal Slav-Serb feelings is nonsense; everyone who has dealt with the Russians on the Balkans, as I did for several years, knows that their leadership has no feelings whatsoever for the Serbs."

Now two EU states have decided not to ratify independence:

Romania and Cyprus have warned that they will not recognise any unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. In addition to Romania and Cyprus, EU members Spain, Greece and Slovakia fear recognition could fuel separatist movements elsewhere. Russia says independence should not go ahead until Belgrade agrees to it. Serbian leaders strongly oppose independence for UN-administered Kosovo.

At this point, it's as well to note Bismark's comment, as it is more apt today than ever before - the build up of the EU Army and the continued presence of U.S. troops in the Balkans without any specific purpose is an interesting development.

The logical solution is partition, as it avoids bloodshed but this will not be listened to by the international community, certain elements who appear to be shaping up for the conflagration they must know will ensue, given Serbia's past record.