I wish I’d had a camera

I was in a meeting in someone’s office earlier today, and I noticed behind her shoulder a switch marked ‘press’, with a sign fixed to the wall above it reading ‘do not press’.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a moment alone to take a photo.

Little MP3s

When I was in Amsterdam last, I heard a song from the new musical version of “Wat Zien Ik?”. Searching for an MP3 version of it, I came across the fantastic word MP3’tjes – surely only the Dutch language could add a diminutive to an acronym.

For cultural cross-referencing purposes, I should note that the site I found this word on described itself as “Het forum van DE Nederlandse Backstreet Boys fansite”. So if you were confused by the large number of Nederlandse Backstreet Boys fansites out there: this is the one to go to.

Elections in the House of Lords – right here, right now

If you ever doubted the case for reform of the House of Lords, take a look at this PDF which bubbled up onto the frontpage of Parliament.uk today.

The document is the notice of an election – yes, an election – for a Tory member of the House of Lords. It’s to replace one of the hereditaries who died the other day, and the most extraordinary thing is that the electorate is 47 other hereditary peers.

No, wait, the most extraordinary thing is that the people eligible to stand for election are only other Tory hereditary peers.

No, no. Surely the most extraordinary thing is that the election result will be decided on by proportional representation.

Must be great to be a hereditary peer – you get to stand in a restricted pool, to be selected by a restricted electorate, using a more representative system than that for the Commons.

We have always been at war with Eastasia terrorists

Iraq war a bad idea? Not to the committed Republicans of the Victory Caucus, which is always a reliable place to find upbeat reporting on the fledgling democracy that is Iraq today (think Switzerland, with oil, apparently). If you think their logo and terminology is a little familiar (Victory Mansions, anyone?) Glenn Greenwald in Salon points out that you might be thinking of 1984.

Early insider trading

From Aristotle’s Athenian Constitution:

As soon as he was at the head of affairs, Solon liberated the people once and for all, by prohibiting all loans on the security of the debtor’s person: and in addition he made laws by which he cancelled all debts, public and private. This measure is commonly called the Seisachtheia [= removal of burdens], since thereby the people had their loads removed from them. … It so happened that, when he was about to enact the Seisachtheia, he communicated his intention to some members of the upper class, whereupon,… these persons borrowed money and bought up a large amount of land, and so when, a short time afterwards, all debts were cancelled, they became wealthy; and this, they say, was the origin of the families which were afterwards looked on as having been wealthy from primeval times.

Or is he the English Mart Laar?

An otherwise mundane article about David Cameron’s visit to Sweden contains this description of the Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt.

He has been dubbed the “Swedish David Cameron”

Is it just me, or does that sound like the dubbing of a British newspaper? Maybe I’m wrong, and Swedish voters are so familiar with the cut-and-thrust of British politics that the Leader of the Opposition is a recognised political benchmark from Stockholm to Skane.