When wind turbines … KILL

The IPPR have just published a report saying that immigrants from the new member states are going home – and that many never intended to stay long-term. Checking out the Daily Mail to see what their spin on the story was (they didn’t mention it), I saw this headline that perfectly sums up the Mail’s attitude:

Wind turbines can trigger epileptic fits and seizures, say scientists

Almost, but not quite, as good as the Private Eye version of a Mail headline: “AIDS threat to Labour voters”

Page 123

Commissioned by Paul to:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

So, the nearest book is Republicanism: a shared European heritage by van Gelderen and Skinner and sentences six to eight (describing the argument of Frans Goethal’s 1566 treatise de foelice et infoelice republica) are:

That state is happy which is built on virtue: “Therefore not the presence of proud buildings, nor high walls make a city famous, but strong excellent men and cultivators of virtue”. Virtue of the people will be achieved through religious training and civic education. The state should support the studia humanitatis through the founding of literary academies.

(I’m sitting at my desk next to my politics books, in case you’re wondering.)

And I’ll tag J-dom, Hadjiboy, Ian, Dave, and The Gorse Fox.

Memory and forgetting

A fascinating article by Tony Judt at the New York Review, entitled What Have We Learned, If Anything?, discusses how despite numerous memorials, the history of the 20th century is being misremembered, if it is remembered at all. Judt’s focus is particularly on the US, and its different experience of 20th century warfare, but it also contains some heartfelt passages arguing against the use of torture in modern warfare. As a statement of why the “War on Terror” is a ludicrous concept, it would be hard to improve upon.

Domestic flights aren’t necessary

I note from a report in this weekend’s FT that when business travellers booked on domestic flights with BA were rebooking during the Terminal 5 screw-up, 50% of them chose rail as their mode of transport. Which makes me think, first, why weren’t they going by rail in the first place? And second, why aren’t we taxing domestic flights out of existence and freeing up some of those supposedly vital Heathrow landing slots? We could even use the revenue to build a useful national rail link to the airport, like at Schiphol or Paris CDG.

For xenophobes and numismatists

The Royal Mint has shown off its new coin designs, reports the Guardian, and they are pretty grim. Designed to look like bits of the royal coat of arms, that perfect symbol of everything British, the coins’ design works when they are arranged in a rather odd pattern (see the pic on the Graun website), but not in other ways.

For starters, there’s no numerical statement of value, so if you’re someone who doesn’t understand the English words “one”, “fifty” and “twenty”, for instance, you can just piss off back to Bongo Bongo Land or wherever you came from, with compliments of the Royal Mint.

What’s more, the royal coat of arms itself is not without unfortunate historical echos. No Wales, of course, which is part of England in heraldic terms (goodbye, Welsh Assembly), and the inclusion of the Irish harp, bits of which appear on the penny and the 50p, has a long story behind it.

Bring on the Euro, please.