Tuesday, January 02, 2007

[dissolution] back to the middle ages

If you are British, which of the above do you want running your life? These are the only realpolitik, the only real choices. All others are pies in the sky. Here is an Australian article, originally from the Guardian, whose motives I suspect.

1] The Union between Scotland and England has a good claim to be the most enduring and successful international partnership in history, yet the atmosphere on its 300th anniversary this month is anything but celebratory.
2] The SNP argues that an independent Scotland would be able to follow Ireland in slashing corporation tax to attract higher levels of inward investment. Rubbish.
3] The SNP argues that cutting corporation tax rates would increase revenue. It is more likely that capital would flee. England will remain Scotland's most important export market by far.
4] Scotland's voice would also be diminished on the international stage.
5] The new nationalism in England in many ways mimics its Scottish counterpart, especially in its capacity for self-pity. The "Scottish raj" in Westminster is a fiction.
6] The idea that the English are an oppressed majority is even more risible than the Braveheart fantasies of the SNP.
7] On any reasonable needs-based assessment, Scotland merits higher public spending because of lower population density and poorer health.
8] England has less to lose from independence than Scotland but England would become more dependent on energy imports.
9] It would have to find somewhere else to base its Trident fleet.
10] The British Army would become more overstretched.
11] Scotland's independence would precipitate the departure of Wales.
12] Even Northern Ireland might not relish the idea of being a mere appendage.
13] UN Security Council implications and the diminishment of the separate parts on the world stage.
14] There is almost nothing that Scotland and England could do separately that they cannot do better together as part of the UK.
15] The real issue is one of political leadership.

I feel there is another issue no one’s looking at. Broken up as a nation, British citizens are then at the mercy first of the EU and then of the World Government which is very much in the pipeline. For this reason and for reasons 13, 14 and 15 above, this blog opposes dissolution and supports the 300 year Union.

[film quiz] how many of these 10 do you know

1] In which film does Robert de Niro play the role of Travis Bickle?

2] Who played the male and female leads in the 1950 film King Solomon's Mines?

3] For which two films did Marlon Brando win an Oscar?

4] Who was the creator of the TV series "ER"?

5] Marty McFly's having the time of his life. The only question is - what time is it? Slogan for which film?

6] Which two US presidents has Anthony Hopkins played in film?

7] In the film "Summer Holiday" with Cliff Richards, where do they drive their bus to?

8] Who directed "L'histoire de Adèle H" and "L'argent de poche"?

9] In 1979, one person starred in the two biggest grossing films of the year: "Amityville Horror" and "Superman". Who?

10] What nationality is Meryl Streep's character in "Sophie's Choice"?

Answers here

[china] the scope of the threat [part 3]

According to General Li Jijun, one of China's most distinguished military authors and former Vice President of AMS, the greater danger to a nation's survival is not warfare but "strategic misdirection".

Part 1 is here. At the end of Part 2, it was clear that China needed to develop and reinforce its western borders, develop sea lanes and form alliances with various countries. Another thing it needs to be aware of is strategic misdirection, particularly from the USA.

Strategic misdirection

According to the Chinese, The United States brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union with strategic misdirection. Through various means, such as the Strategic Defense Initiative, which the US had no intention of ever deploying, the Soviets greatly increased their defense budget.

The US also supported opposition in Poland and Afghanistan, drove down the price of oil to cut off the main source of Soviet foreign exchange, and exacerbated the domestic Soviet political crisis.

The collapse of the Soviet Union, following secessionist moves in the Baltic States, was a lesson China noted. In 1990, Washington made deliberately deceptive comments to Saddam Hussein through the U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad, to the effect that the United States did not care if he invaded Kuwait.

Citing the lessons of history, General Li warns that "unconsciously accepting an opponent's strategic misdirection causes a nation to be defeated or collapse, and not know why." An article in the June issue of Zhongguo Pinglun concludes:

"The Western forces are attempting to drag China into the mire in the arms race. The United States is planning to pursue a theatre missile defense system, so that the Chinese will step into the shoes of the former Soviet Union. In an arms race with the United States, China will consume its national power and collapse without a battle."

How can that be translated into practical action? That’s not openly stated but one would assume that China would employ some of its own strategic misdirection and perhaps the Karakoram Highway is an example of this, perhaps not.

More here

Monday, January 01, 2007

[tumbleweeds] a personal favourite revisited

Bit difficult to read the way Blogger posts pics:

Injun: Our war canoo has sinked with all aboard!
Chief: Oh no.
Injun: They're in the water shreekin and screaming!
Chief: They're drowning?
Injun: Nah, too shallow. But the bottom's all mucky and yucky and awful squishy!

I always used to cut this comic strip out of the day’s paper and so I had quite a collection after a few years. I think they’re still in a box somewhere and you can’t get them on the web. Apart from the humour, the major thing about this cartoon was the way it got into Indian life from an Indian’s own ironical viewpoint, as well as from the white man’s. Here’s a
short bio of Tom K. Ryan, the toonist:

The strip made its first newspaper appearance in 1965, and was an immediate fan favorite. Ryan claims that Tumbleweeds is the result of his exclusive access to long-suppressed files on a secret corner of the Old West.

Tumbleweeds was animated for Saturday morning television in the late 1970s, and in 1983 was the subject of a musical. The strip also inspired a live stage attraction in Las Vegas, as well as a theme-park area at the MGM Grand theme park, called "Tumbleweeds Gulch."

Ryan takes great satisfaction in the fact that American Indians are fans of Tumbleweeds. He has received numerous commendations from Indian educators, editors and tribesmen, all of whom applaud the strip's combination of comic and cultural elements and Ryan's ability to capture the Indian sense of humor.

Homesite here. Another good bio here. The real thing here.

[blimey] lasagne assault unfair

This is a totally unfair post. It's dinner time here in the fSU and I'm famished. So, I go into Welshcake Limoncello's site and blimey! I'd have to eat the whole lasagne, I really would. The instant I post this piece, I'm off to have some ravioli, which is all I have in the freezer. Hope you survive WCL's post better than I did.

[segie et sarki] deux styles totalement différents

A quelques heures d’intervalle, les deux principaux candidats à la présidentielle ont utilisé deux styles totalement différents pour présenter des vœux très politiques.

Ségolène Royal filmée dans une pièce vide, illuminée d’une guirlande multicolore et d’un lampadaire design. Nicolas Sarkozy sur un simple fond bleu incrusté d’un logo UMP. Les traditionnels vœux du Nouvel an ont donné une occasion supplémentaire aux deux rivaux dans la course à l’Elysée de marquer leur différence, à moins de quatre mois du premier tour.

Suivez …

[neujahrsschwimmen] das jahr beginnt ins kalte Wasser

Es ist ein eher ungemütlicher Brauch zum Start ins neue Jahr: das Neujahrsschwimmen. In aller Welt springen Menschen ins - meist kalte - Wasser und beweisen sich und ihren Mitmenschen Mut. Mit solchen Aktionen ist ihnen eines gewiss: Das Jahr kann nur noch besser werden.

Vermutlich ist es aber einfach nur der Wunsch, zum Jahresanfang mal etwas Verrücktes zu unternehmen. Zum Vernünftigsein gibt es ja noch an 364 Tagen Gelegenheit.

Mehr hier …

[testimonials] first ten ready

I really abjectly apologize. First I exhorted everyone to do this, The Cityunslicker and others responded but I simply couldn’t get my act together until now. Well, I’ve started and here are my first ten ‘take it or leave it’ comments on members of the blogosphere. Please, people, if you can see your way clear to doing something like it, each blogger will then have a nice little store of comments to put in his or her sidebar. But be honest. Don’t eulogize just for the sake of it.

The Cityunslicker: The travelling blogger with the razor wit has a habit of cutting to the chase and only ever falls by the wayside on matters of faith. CUS’s comments are as good as his posts and what bloggers appreciate is that he’s at least read the posts, unlike some. Behind that sometimes direct exterior beats a heart of gold and an astute mind, let alone a wealth of experience.

Westminster Wisdom: Perfect example of a Blogpower blog which should be in Iain Dale’s Top 10. He’s not every surfer’s cup of tea as he demands a concentration span longer than three minutes and the ability to comprehend both history and the English language – tall order for many. For those with the patience, he’s deeply rewarding and that's why he is rapidly entering the 'must read' category of a sizable chunk of the discerning corner of the blogosphere.

Ellee Seymour: What’s left to say about Lady Ellee of Ely? Superb blog, always up to date and posing a dilemma with a humane edge to it. It’s a testimony that she’s now won the first of her many awards and yet she somehow manages to visit others, comment on comments, maintain a work, study, political and family schedule and enjoy it all the while. A true lady, as all are aware, she is my prediction for Top 10 on Iain Dale’s list this year.

Not Saussure: Some bloggers are fine amateurs and some are professional. Notsaussure is of the latter ilk, facts always at his fingertips, never a word out of place and right on the money. He is one of the Blogpower blogs who should be up there mixing it with the big boys – he’s that impressive - and a sizable portion of the A list is coming to realize that. Virtually a must read for the discerning, his blog is also beautifully presented, which certainly helps, in my humble opinion.

The ThunderDragon: Already an A lister, technical whiz Thunder Dragon shows that not all A listers are stuck up stats groupies who’d sell their grandmothers for more traffic. And he’s on Iain Dale’s list for a reason – he’s simply a fine blogger, scoring highly on the ten point Dale criteria and with his finger always on the political pulse. He's also the technical brains behind Blogpower, along with Ian at Imagined Community.

Sicily Scene: This lady, Welshcakes Limoncello, could be charged with mental cruelty by relentlessly revealing to us the idyllically unhurried world of Sicily and photos of the magnificent fare upon her table [not to mention the card corners] but to be fair – she does often provide recipes. Rapidly becoming a must read for a large portion of the blogosphere, her wise young head and astute comments are also particularly appreciated by fellow bloggers.

Mr Eugenides: What can one say? An Edinburgh based A lister, a widely acknowledged political genius of the first order - still he finds time to visit Greece, sink a pint or two and take on the idiots who purport to govern our fair land. A member of that select group of high traffic bloggers who’ve not forgotten their roots and who are approachable [if you can dodge the swear-shrapnel on your way in, that is]. Mr. E is pure class.

Stumbling and Mumbling: I confess this is my favourite blog and yet I disagree with many of the sentiments, I don’t understand a fraction of the economics and I’m less than reverent ion my comments. Leicester boy Chris Dillow is master class and his steady elevation into the elysian zones of the blogosphere are testimony to the regard in which he is held. His point form analyses are compelling and his only direction , as far as I can see, is up.

Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe: Environmental expert Colin Campbell is one of the expat Scot brigade, soon to become an Australian citizen, with two beautiful children and a menagerie of pets and one mystery wife who hardly gets a mention. His blog is unique, centred as it is around family matters but he's no stranger to ascerbic comment on the political foolisness of the day. Short of ideas? Come to Colin’s blog for inspiration.

Tom Paine: I’m in awe of very few people in this world but I’m in awe of Tom Paine. Whilst bloggers like yours truly are rabbiting on twenty words to the dozen, Tom is taking it all in, rarely commenting and then coming out with sheer common sense, whatever the topic. You need to know what you’re talking about when you approach Mr. Paine and I strongly suspect there’s a wealth of life experience tucked away behind that moniker and it comes through in his support of good causes. Little wonder Tom is on most of the A list blogrolls and all of ours as well.

Next to come will be those listed in the blogrolls as
Pub Philosopher, Out Story, Tea & Margaritas [to be added to my roll as soon as I post this], Heather Yaxley - Greenbanana, Buckeye Matt, Macadamia and Lord Nazh, amongst others plus my two fellow administrators of Blogpower.

What was the basis on which I chose bloggers for the first list? Simply those who commented on this blog in the last two days. I shall be writing a piece for each person on the blogrolls and hope to finish it by the end of this week.

[george bush] misunderstood and maligned [3]

Here are Part 1 and Part 2 of this tribute to George W. Bush. The third batch of ten is below. The idea is to vote for the three best from these ten, with a view to eventually finding an overall winning excerpt:

21] "First, let me make it very clear, poor people aren't necessarily killers. Just because you happen to be not rich doesn't mean you're willing to kill." - Washington, D.C., May 19, 2003

22] "I think war is a dangerous place." - Washington, D.C., May 7, 2003

23] "You're free. And freedom is beautiful. And, you know, it'll take time to restore chaos and order - order out of chaos. But we will." - Washington, D.C., April 13, 2003

24] "I think the American people - I hope the American–I don't think, let me—I hope the American people trust me."—Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2002

25] "There's only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids upon the death of their loved one. Others hug but having committed the troops, I've got an additional responsibility to hug and that's me and I know what it's like." - Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 2002

26] We need an energy bill that encourages consumption." - Trenton, N.J., Sept. 23, 2002

27] "And so, in my State of the - my State of the Union - or state - my speech to the nation, whatever you want to call it, speech to the nation - I asked Americans to give 4,000 years - 4,000 hours over the next - the rest of your life - of service to America. That's what I asked - 4,000 hours." - Bridgeport, Conn., April 9, 2002

28] "Do you have blacks, too?" - To Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001

29] "I am mindful of the difference between the executive branch and the legislative branch. I assured all four of these leaders that I know the difference, and that difference is they pass the laws and I execute them." Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2000

30] "Dick Cheney and I do not want this nation to be in a recession. We want anybody who can find work to be able to find work." 60 Minutes II, Dec. 5, 2000

[after new year] state of the planet, state of the head

Welcome to the New Year, everyone. Still alive? How’s the head?

Well, skipping over the killings, executions and so on, the world’s journos consider 2006 their worst year ever as they actually began to get killed going into trouble zones, whereas before they could stay at a safe distance and invent portions of the stories.

The Pope, predictably but no less correctly, bemoaned the assault on the family by modern culture, meaning the culture of sex, drugs, indiscriminate clubbing and shopping that so many parents are delighted their children are developing a taste for.

After New Year Debt. The flurry of gift shopping near the end of the year leads some down the path of least resistance and into the land of credit card debt. The average U.S. household has $10,000 in non-mortgage debt, and the holiday spend-a-thon no doubt puts pressure on consumers to buy more and boost their personal deficits ever higher.

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service offers five tips to consumers who find themselves having bought more than they had planned:
# Know how much you owe: Add up all your credit card and other bills to get a realistic picture.
# Create a spending plan: Decide beforehand what needs to be paid, then put in place a plan for your income.
# Pay off credit card debt: Stop making new charges and pay down what you already owe.
# Build a savings cushion: The goal is to have enough to cover your expenses for three to six months.
# Develop a strategy for a financial future: Monitor your finances on a regular basis. Open a retirement fund and contribute to it regularly.

Can’t see the point of this advice. Those who are careful and frugal will remain so and those with no money and big eyes will continue to load everything onto the cards with no thought of tomorrow.

The one piece of good news is that scientists seem to have developed a non-BSE cow. That’s a good start to 2007 – I’m sure the cows will be delighted by the news.