Published January 31, 2007
For the head-scratching hordes who seek it, a splendid glimpse of true ‘Britishness’ is to be found in the tale of the man who entered Prince Charles’s Highgrove estate bearing a pitchfork.
Perhaps the prince himself, given his love of nature and stuff, was moved to tears at the disarmingly bucolic image of a commoner still wed to the soil by his manual labours, using the pre-industrial tool of his trade to make a point to his gardener prince. Not only that but the choice of tool -the humble pitchfork- points to key moments in Britain’s rich Christian past, when foreigners were few, cultures were not multi- and the only thing you had to worry about was whether or not the King was a Protestant.
This sort of image is all too rare in modern Britain, with its surveillance systems and airports spreading like Japanese knotweed across its green hills.
If Gordon Brown knew the meaning of Britishness, he should award this man an OBE for choosing not to crash the gates of Highgrove with a satnav-guided combine harvester.
Published January 29, 2007
One of the things I’ve been listening to quite a lot of late is Hard Workin’ Man – The Jack Nitzsche Story Vol. 2. There’s some great stuff on it, including a slow burning version of Buffalo Springfield’s Mr Soul by the Everly Brothers, and the title track, sung by Captain Beefheart.
I bought a Captain Beefheart compilation when I was 15, thinking I was cool. I listened to it once, in the dead of night, and it scared the shit out of me. I never put it on again, and lost it somewhere along the line.
Anyway, the track renewed my interest somewhat, and I came across this Captain Beefheart ad on Lick My Decals Off, Baby on YouTube, which, for some reason, got banned on its release.
Published January 29, 2007
I don’t like national flags. Given the existence of nation states and the consequent anxieties they create, I think I can understand why people would want to hoist their own flag, but that doesn’t mean I approve. Displaying allegiance to a flag is a form of idolatry, or fetishism, if you want to get kinky about it. As with any sort of fetishism, it’s best conducted in the privacy of your own home in the company of other consenting adults.
Well, at Trinity College, they want to fly the flag all the time (subs required).
The student union president says:
This is Ireland’s leading university and it is funded by the State, and we’re limiting the amount of time you can fly the national flag.
It is hard for a person from outside the madcap world of flag-fetishists to understand why Trinity College needs the national flag flying from it every day. The last time I looked, Trinity College was right in the centre of Dublin, which is in the Republic of Ireland. This means that it is safe to assume that it is Irish. As far as I am aware, there is no danger of it drifting out the Liffey and off to sea towards the waters of continental Europe, where it might become necessary to fly the Irish flag lest it get torpedoed by the French.
Just because something is funded by the state does not mean it needs to carry the national flag either. It is pretty safe to assume that a tricolour atop one of this state’s fine hospital buildings, or even atop of one of its not-so-fine hospital buildings, will have negligible effect on the medical attention provided inside. Medical evidence indicates that flags have zero use in appendectomies or delivering babies.
Is there a special case to be made when it comes to universities? Maybe university students need to be reminded, by the flag hoisted in their midst, that when they are writing that paper on string theory or the gold standard, they are doing so as part of some national endeavour. For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Ireland, perhaps.
Published January 28, 2007
I may have asked this before, but what is the point of ironing? It seems to me to arise from a fixation on straight lines, or on the shortest distance between two points.
It is hard to see how straight lines in clothing serve any practical purpose, and any aesthetic value they might have is derived from the aforementioned fixation.
I imagine this all started around the time of the industrial revolution. Perhaps people thought it would be a good idea to resemble a machine. As industry developed, straight lines started appearing everywhere – on roads and railways, in factories and offices – so it was only a matter of time before a piece of equipment was developed to create and preserve analogous straight lines in clothing.
Whatever the history, I hate it.
Published January 26, 2007
If, like me and millions of others, you have begun Don Quixote several times but never finished it, you could try downloading each of its 126 chapters in mp3 format from this site here. However, it looks like the site has been saturated with requests since its publication in El Pais, so you may have to sorrowfully countenance appallingly slow download speeds of 0.2KB/s, which means that each chapter could take you 18 hours to download. It might be easier to read the damn thing.
Published January 25, 2007
In a controversial new study, it has been revealed that the bird population of Iraq is on the rise.
In all good conscience, can we take the conclusions of this survey at face value? What was the methodology used? The sample size? Did they use cluster samples?
However, the researchers can make some broad statements about the health of bird populations in Iraq.
What does Iraqi Bird Count say about this? In the absence of more reliable data, we should only rely on newspaper reports about bird populations.
Maybe the birds are exaggerating. You know what birds are like.
Published January 25, 2007
Few adults in the United States express reservations with the possibility of a black person becoming their head of state, according to a poll by Rasmussen Reports. 79 per cent of respondents would be willing to vote for an African American president.
Given that 12% in the same poll said that they would not be willing to vote for an African American president, that means there are, by my estimation, about 14 million openly racist voters in the United States.