Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday 31 May 2005

Chirac names de Villepin to replace Raffarin as Prime Minister

President Chirac spoke to the French nation earlier this evening calling for unity in the face of the 'no' vote in the EU referendum last Sunday. As was widely expected, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was required to 'fall on his sword' and has been replaced in this position by Dominique de Villepin. Readers may recall that Monsieur de Villepin was French Foreign Minister at the time of the UN debates about the possibility of further resolutions authorising military action against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein (which France opposed), although more recently he has been Interior Minister. Until I read his biography (see last link above) I had not realised that he is a 'pied noir', having been born in Rabat (Morocco), a country I knew well in the 1970s. Monsieur Chirac seemed to recognise in his speech this evening the disgruntlement of the French citizenry with the high levels of unemployment in France (having been singularly unforthcoming and seemingly uncomprehending on the subject prior to the referendum!), but still seems wedded to the notion of maintaining the 'social model' so valued in France. Whilst understandable from a political-popularity point of view, it is difficult to see how he can pull of this trick plausibly in todays largely globalised economy, assuming France is to remain relatively free and open to outside economic influence, at least from fellow-EU members as is required under the various EU treaties. Quite apart from the wider issue of how all this will allow the country to 'faire face' (face up to/deal with) the equally difficult or more serious problem of competition from China and the other dynamic economies in Asia. It is a dangerous, and probably futile, game to write-off a politician like Chirac - he is a wily and resourceful operator who has survived many setbacks before, but I shall be intrigued to observe how he manages to survive this latest 'little local difficulty'.

Tax Freedom Day - Tuesday 31st May 2005

According to the folks at the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), today is the day when we switch from paying all we earn to the Government and instead get to keep it for ourselves. Apparently it's three days later than last year. As the ASI blog has it:

The mediaeval Scots laird took 33 percent of the peasant’s produce after a third went for seed and a third for consumption.

Ane tae saw,
ane tae gnaw,
and ane tae pay the laird withaw.

Our Chancellor takes an even more rapacious 40 percent. Have a good day.

In an effort to maintain some degree of impartiality here, however, it behooves me to observe that it has, again according to the ASI, been as late as 15th June (in 1982) during the Conservative years in power, and during the period since 1997 (since Labour took over) it was as late as 4th June in 2001!

As I had a couple of glasses of champagne yesterday, at a wine tasting in the evening, I won't be opening another bottle tonight; I'll leave that for later in the week, when it'll be my birthday. Cheers!

The nature of 'common sense' ...

A recent exchange of comments in an earlier post in this blog has got me thinking about what 'common sense' is. According to my dictionary (Shorter Oxford, for information) it includes the following:

'Common Sense'

1. An internal sense which was regarded as the common bond or centre of the five senses 1548.

2. Ordinary, normal, or average understanding. (Without this a man is foolish or insane.) 1535.
b. Good sound practical sense; general sagacity 1726.
c. A thing approved by common sense 1803.

3. The general sense of mankind, or of a community 1596.

4. Philos. The faculty of primary truths 1758.

Also attrib. (hyphened).

2. Common sense will not teach us metaphysics any more than mathematics JOWETT.
b. Rich in saving common-sense TENNYSON.
c. Is this common sense? MACKINTOSH.

4. Philosophy of common sense: the theory which accepts as the criterion of truth the primary cognitions of mankind. Hence Common-sensible a. possessing, or marked by, common sense; - bly adv.

Now, what does this all boil down to? It seems to me that, whatever 'common sense' is, it is not absolute; it is highly subjective and varies from culture to culture and country to country, over time. Whenever I write about this concept it will be based upon what I consider to be 'common sense', no doubt influenced by all sorts of prejudices and hang-ups that are part of me. These ideas of mine will sometimes, perhaps often, not be shared entirely or even partially by other people. Opinions are what they are - what I might consider unusual or perverse ideas may be seen as completely normal by some other people. I accept all of this. But this is a blog called Bill's Comment Page and when I use the phrase 'common sense' the basic understanding which underlies whatever I have written will be based upon my view of something at the time; whether such ideas of mine represent any kind of 'common sense' is hardly for me to judge, but it is probably for certain that these views will be influenced by my 'prejudices' and 'hang-ups'. How could it be otherwise? In any case, and to conclude this long and rambling mind-dump, I do not really see it as a requirement to confirm in laborious detail my definition of every word I use - people can take what I write here as they find it and form their own views as to the level of 'common sense' and/or 'prejudice' that my views represent. What more can I say?

New 'Shoutbox' feature added in right column

Right then. You may notice I've added a new blog feature - it's a 'Shoutbox' (which I have cunningly renamed Bill's Mini-comment Area) and is displayed in the right-hand column. The purpose, apparently, is to allow me to add spur-of-the-moment comments quickly, without the need to go to the blog editor. It is very easy to set up and use, but I've yet to decide whether it is a useful feature, or just a piece of pointless gimmickry. I'll try it out for a few weeks, whilst I get the feel of it. Meantime, if you have any comments on this new 'vanity feature', feel free ...
(Thru no milk please - I tried to set this up some months back, but couldn't get it to work. However, the set-up procedures seem to have been simplified enough so that even I can follow them!)

UPDATE: (Tuesday 31MAY05 22.35 BST) In response to a Guestbook comment, I've amended my 'Shoutbox' to allow visitors to comment as well. Of course, I hope I'll be able to leave it open to comments, but some common sense will be needed to allow this to happen - no porno links, no abuse, etc. Message understood? Cheers! - and comment away (-;

Monday 30 May 2005

Nairn Bandstand - partial renovation is completed

I'm pleased to say that the urgent partial repairs to the Wallace Bandstand in Nairn have now been completed and the scaffolding removed (about half an hour ago). There is still some renovation work to be done - deocrative features on the 'pineapple' cupola need repair, as does the wrought iron balustrade - but at least the lead roofing has been made good and the inner wooden lining has been patched up. It no longer looks a complete eyesore (important for me, as it's what I see every day from my home, to be purely selfish about it):

Wallace Banstand, Nairn - 30th May 2005

Sunday 29 May 2005

France votes 'no' in its EU referendum

A couple of days ago I risked a forecast that the French would vote decisively in favour of ratifying the EU Constitutional Treaty. I was wrong.

According to the exit poll, just announced, 55 per cent rejected the constitution, and 45 per cent favoured ratification. This is likely to presage a political earthquake across Europe. I hope this particular effort at a constitutional treaty is now dead. One imagines the Dutch vote will go ahead on Wednesday; whether the same can be said of the one in the UK probably scheduled for sometime next year, who can say?

More later ...

UPDATE: (Monday 30MAY05 03.20 BST) A transcipt, in English, of President Chirac's address to the French people, reacting to the referendum result, is here.

2nd UPDATE: (Monday 30MAY05 13.45 BST) Here is the official transcript, in French, of Chirac's address to the French people last evening, on the Elysee Palace website:

"La France s'est démocratiquement exprimée. Vous avez majoritairement rejeté la Constitution européenne. C'est votre décision souveraine. J'en prends acte."

Fair enough, but he also says:

"Des processus de ratification sont en cours dans l'ensemble des pays de l'Union. Neuf pays se sont déjà prononcés pour le oui. Nos autres partenaires s'exprimeront à leur tour."

Well, as for the last sentence, that's entirely up to those other countries, whether to waste money by having a referendum at all. I have changed my view about this in the past few weeks.

He is correct, though, when he says:

"D'ici là , l'Union européenne va continuer à fonctionner sur la base des traités actuels."

In other words, his scandalous suggestion last year that countries which rejected the Constitutional Treaty would have to leave the EU (thinking principally of the UK) is shown up for what it always was - shameless political grandstanding, as is confirmed by his own words last evening, in the wake of the French vote:

"La France, pays fondateur de l'Union, reste naturellement, dans l'Union."

- the fun continues, but I hope this particular Treaty can now be given a quick burial. For a satirical take on yesterday's vote, there's a good post at Liberty Cadre.

Could common sense about homosexuality be breaking out in Jamaica?

Now, let's not be hasty, but there is a very interesting article in today's Jamaica Gleaner, entitled "Respecting your gay co-worker", probably a pretty revolutionary concept in what has the reputation of being an extremely homophobic country. It sounds like an attempt is being made to coax attitudes just a little and the article makes the point that a number of Jamaican musicians and singers have seen their careers badly affected in the US and the UK because of the anti-gay content of their songs. I daresay, though, despite the article urging readers not to 'blow a gasket' that a few did indeed see their blood pressure rising alarmingly. Still, it's a start ...

Saturday 28 May 2005

ID Cards - a threat resurrected

I really should have written about the Government's proposals for ID Cards, resurrected since the General Election, well before now - but I was just too shell-shocked and depressed by this and a number of their other legislative proposals outlined in the recent Queen's Speech that I couldn't get up the energy to do it (hence the gap of several days in posting entries here during this week). It will be no secret to anyone that I abhor the whole concept of Devolution, even if I have had to accept reluctantly that we are probably saddled with it for the forseeable future, but at least in Scotland we may not be faced with the need to comply with these noisone police state measures when accessing services controlled by the devolved Scottish Executive (unless over-ruled by Westminster?) so perhaps, ironically, it will be our 'beloved' Labour/LibDem duopoly that mutes the worst aspects for us here - who'd have thunk it?

This article, however, in has at last broken the log-jam. If the Conservatives do now add their voice (*) to the continuing LibDem opposition to the ID Card bill this, coupled with what I hope will be a decent number of Labour MPs with a conscience opposing it, too, we may just get to a situation where the Blair/Clark proposals can be consigned to oblivion; but I am, frankly speaking, not tremendously hopeful. I really must get my passport renewed before this daft and dangeorous legislation reaches the statute book. A vos armes, citoyens!!

(*) This is another matter that I really should have written about before; the coming leadership contest in the Conservative Party, not forgetting the hoped-for (by me) comeuppance for David McLetchie, the Party's Leader in the Scottish Parliament. There has been a concerted effort in the last 10 days to try and persuade people of how 'reasonable' David Davis is, and how his own origins will ensure that it is a 'caring' Party under his putative leadership. His opposition to ID Cards is certainly a help, but I am still not entirely convinced - he has a reputation for being pretty traditional in his social views as they affect diverse 'lifestyles'. At the time IDS became leader my other greatest fear for the Party then was that David Davis might slip through any gap between Duncan Smith and Clarke - David Davis now looks, at this early stage, nearly unstoppable. So I would like some interviewer to pin Davis down on his current views on this subject and not allow the kind of soft-focus in last Sunday's article in The Sunday Telegraph to define his public image - that was very far from a full picture, I suspect strongly. More on this when I get the time (and energy).

What about La Reunion?

This BBC report on the curiosity of the French referendum vote also taking place thousands of miles away from 'La Metropole' neglected to mention one of the more important Overseas Departements. I tend to know about these things because I lived at one time in what was then one of the TOMs (Djibouti); the DOM-TOMs are a very French way of maintaining French administration and culture in diverse enclaves around the world - there are four DOMs, administratively and legally no different from any other part of France, and five TOMs which had a slightly different status, since 2003 described more accurately as 'COM (collectivité d’outre-mer)', which individually have their own statutes.

Could an English 'granny' be an al-Qa'ida terrorist?

One wonders if this is what the French police were thinking when they stopped a bus carrying members of a Women's Institute (WI) group from Suffolk from entering the Channel Tunnel when they were returning home from a trip to Paris to celebrate the 85th anniversary of their WI branch. What a good camouflage it would be, though, if one of these 'Miss Marple' types was in fact a ruthless suicide bomber. More likely, I suppose, was a worry that some nefarious group had planted explosives aboard the bus whilst it was unattended in 'The City of Light'. I bet many strong cups of tea were drunk by these ladies when they finally reached home.

Scotland 'not gay enough' for Clinton Cards's new range

Now I can accept that the local post office in a village such as Auchtermuchty is not, perhaps, an appropriate place to sell gay-themed greetings cards, anymore than it would probably be a suitable place to try and sell Eid or Hannukah cards. There is simply unlikely to be much demand. But it beggars belief to think there wouldn't be a reasonable market for these things in places like Glasgow or Edinburgh. Of course, this article doesn't make clear that this new range of cards from Clinton Cards is being test-marketed across all their stores in England either; it seems more likely that they are being tested initially in the most promising markets such as London, Brighton and Manchester; I daresay in Consett, Northumberland there wouldn't be much demand, or money(?), either. Makes a good headline, though ...

Microsoft Dumps Anti-Gay Advisor

This very interesting report reveals that "Microsoft announced Friday that it has severed ties with Ralph Reed, a conservative Republican lobbyist who once headed the Christian Coalition". This, and statements from Microsoft, appears to show that the company has quickly reversed its novel 'neutral' stance on LGBT issues which I wrote about here; it's amazing how a little timely fighting-back against bigotry can help to thwart those who would have western countries become theocracies, specially when a company like Microsoft has generally had a pretty good reputation in this area until now. Right on!

Property price inflation spreads across Scotland and the UK generally

Once upon a time a property that would have cost a "King's Ransom" in more affluent parts of the country could be had for "A bag of sweeties" in certain parts of Scotland, the north of England or south-west England. People wishing to exile themselves from the hustle and bustle (aka 'stress') of life in the big cities, specially of the south-east of England around London, could buy more or less what they wanted in the tranquil parts of the country, with loads of cash to spare. Not that I object to this in principle - it is simply free-market economics in operation, something I favour strongly. However, those wishing to move in the other direction didn't have the same opportunities. Usually the wish to move was prompted by better job possibilities in places such as London, Manchester or Edinburgh, but the huge property-price differentials made it very difficult for new 'immigrants' from the rural areas and provincial towns to gain a property foothold in bigger cities.

Over the past year or eighteen months, however, the prices being asked (and achieved) for properties in and around Inverness, for example, have increased much more rapidly than has ever been the case in the past, even if the bulk of the high-price properties, i.e in excess of a million pounds are generally-speaking, so far as Scotland is concerned, in places convenient for Edinburgh or Glasgow, the price inflation in the former much boosted, of course, by the circus that is the Scottish Parliament and its Scottish Executive. In countries like Germany, where many people rent their homes, labour movement has always been much easier; in a country such as the UK, where proporty-owning is the norm, this aids labour flexibility.

Bill's prediction - France will vote 'yes' in Sunday's referendum

Will I look a complete idiot on Sunday evening, when the polls close in France and the exit poll predictions are announced? Possibly. However, it is just a 'gut feeling' that, despite all the recent opinion polls suggesting that the French people will reject the EU Constitutional Treaty in their referendum this weekend, they will vote decisively in favour of ratification. This will be very much despite the dislike of many of the voters for their President, Jacques Chirac; if it hadn't been for the 'fortuitous' circumstance of a run-off in the 2nd round at the last Presidential election with the Leader of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, it is highly likely that Chirac would have (happily) been out on his ear and quite possibly then arraigned before a criminal court for corruption.

To be honest though (am I ever anything else?) I too would be in a quandary as to how to vote were we to have a referendum soon - just like many of the French interviewed about their voting intentions in the past few days. I like the idea of a constitutional treaty, but I don't like the terms of the one we are being offered.

Tuesday 24 May 2005

John O'Groats dubbed "seedy tourist trap"

This is the verdict of the latest 'Great Britain' edition of Lonely Planet. I have visited John O'Groats only twice, most recently about five years ago. My first visit was when I was a child, probably aged about eleven or twelve; in other words it was quite a long time ago.

When I visited as a child, with my parents, my reaction was that it was indeed a windswept, seedy outpost and I wondered (quite vocally, as I recall) why my parents had taken me there. I wanted to proceed immediately to Dounreay, just a few miles along the coast, to visit what was then quite an interesting exhibition about nuclear energy. My father was appalled by my lack of appreciation for the 'romanticism' of the location; my mother, as I recall, prudently tried to restore calm between her recalcitrant son and her offended husband.

So my visit about five years ago, as a detour prior to embarking on the ferry for Orkney, did not fill me with much excited anticipation. On a positive note, the weather was absolutely brilliant that day; naturally quite windy, but with clear sunshine and great visibility. Parts of the 'installations' there appeared to me to be a lot better than before and I bought a very nice hat in the one 'quality' outlet. However there is no escaping the fact that some of the other outlets were indeed chock full of over-priced tourist 'tat'. The lady from John O'Groats Ferries suggesting that the Lonely Planet authors "have obviously never been here" comes across as pathetic and most probably completely untrue. She really needs to face up to the reality - it is, overall and with perhaps some minor exceptions, an over-priced, rather seedy tourist trap. It's not alone in this, of course - some of the more popular tourist areas of London, Paris or Hong Kong are pretty seedy, too - but they are large and diverse enough to have many fine things to counteract this seediness. John O'Groats has only one thing going for it and a lot of people travel a long way to visit it - only to leave a little disappointed.

I have relied upon Lonely Planet guides in many parts of the world, from the publisher's home country Australia, large parts of east Asia to several countries in Europe and a few in Central America, even though I was never a back-packer. Guide books are usually somewhat superficial, but I have always found Lonely Planet guides to be pretty reliable when it comes to basic facts. I prefer to take their word against that of the self-interested denizens of John O'Groats any day.

A host, of golden ...

... Rapeseed
Taken just off the A96, approaching Nairn from Inverness

(after Wordsworth)

- many of the fields between Nairn and Inverness are a bright yellow at present, with crops of rapeseed; although some consider rapeseed rather garish, I think it brightens up a dull day and on a sunny afternoon such as we have today it looks even more attractive. Rapeseed has, in my opinion, a rather attractive delicate fragrance en masse; luckily I have never suffered from hay-fever so am able to enjoy Spring and summer with no adverse effects.

The view in the photograph is looking out over the Moray Firth, back toward Nairn from the Ardersier side-road, just outside Nairn.

Monday 23 May 2005

Bill's 'Thought for the day'

My clock radio switched on this morning at 6.59am, just as usual, tuned to Radio3 - I prefer to awaken to the usually dulcet tones of the BBC's classical music station than the argy-bargy of Radio4, although I normally switch over to the other station just before 7.45am, in time for the 'Thought for the Day' and I then stick with the 'Today' programme until 9am. However, this morning, I awakened to the news that a one-day strike at the BBC (which had been scheduled some time ago, I recall) was happening today, so no 'Today' or any other live news production would be broadcast.

So I decided to do my own 'Thought for the Day' - there are more than one, of course!

First the BBC and its one-day news strike, to be followed we are told by a 48-hour strike on 31 May - 1 June. The strike is about plans to cut 3,780 jobs (136 in Scotland - why so few, here?) and to privatise parts of the Corporation. This is from a total staff of about 27,000, of whom roughly 11,000 are expected to participate in today's strike. I do not have a choice about paying for the BBC as I, like almost every other household in the country, possess a television set. Even if I never watched the BBC I would still have to pay. This is wrong. It's not as if all the 'job cuts' will be job losses - some will continue working, probably much as before, but for outside contractors in the private sector. Channel4 (also a public corporation), set up under Margaret Thatcher's government in the early 1980s, contracts out most of its production which is not bought in as already produced programming. It funds itself by advertsing. It provides quite a decent standard of programming and its news broadcasts, in particular, are of pretty high quality. It's a decent model. The BBC is considered by many, me included, to be a bloated bureaucracy badly in need of stream-lining and it tries to compete across the whole range of broadcasting, despite the fact that with the huge range of alternatives now available it is never going to achieve the quasi-monopoly (or duopoly with ITV, when they were the only two broadcasters) it once enjoyed. There is a great deal of 'dross' on BBC1 and even on BBC2, its two main television channels. The BBC needs a salutary shock to bring some of its staff down to earth. When President Reagan first hinted he might dismiss all air-traffic controllers across the US, and use military controllers instead on a temporary basis until new less strike-prone employees could be employed under more modern contracts and trained, he was widely believed to be mad and his ideas completley impractical. Well, it worked and despite some very temporary difficulty, there was no disruption to air traffic. Same goes for the much derided 'Star Wars' weapons defence system initiative - that never came to pass, but what did happen was that the USSR could not begin to comtemplate the level of expenditure needed to compete with the US in this area, if the latter were to succeed, and the USSR duly collapsed for economic reasons without a shot ever being fired. Marvellous! The Government agreed only recently to renew the BBC Charter, still based on a universal licence fee for users of television sets - this was a misguided step in our current multi-channel and multi-media broadcasting environemnt. It is very clear what needs to be done - abolish the compuslory licence fee and make the BBC either a subscription or partially advertising-based network and let the market decide just how much of their services we require.

My other thought this morning, initially at least, was "Oh no, it's back to the 1960s and 1970s" when life under the last Labour government (and the Heath government, too, of course) was characterised by strikes, go-slows and power cuts. Naturally I quickly realised it's not nearly so simple as that. The Conservative administrations of Mrs Thatcher changed, thank goodness, the whole climate of politics in the UK and reduced greatly the power of unions to disrupt our lives for their own selfish, and quite often misguided, ends. Nevertheless the instincts of this 'New' Labour government remain what they have always been, even if they are inhibited from doing some of the foolish and short-sighted things they might once have done. Luckily, for example, EU rules provented them from giving a naked subsidy to Rover, but they still took far too long, flirting with the idea of GBP150m of 'research' money which might circumvent EU regulations, before finally accepting that this would be pointless - when the Chinese side eventually expressed their real aims. Similarly, putting Rover into the hands of the four Midlands businessmen some years ago, rather than the alernative venture capital solution. Even more clearly seen is the longterm damage being done to the UK by calls recently that much of the off-balance sheet PFI funding may have to be shown as government liability for public debt purposes - making even more certain that we will likely have tax raises foisted upon us pretty soon, if Gordon Brown's spending (aka 'investment') on public services is not to go completely awry; very conveniently for the Government this is coming just after the election! Just a reminder - expenditure on staff costs and consumables is 'spending', not 'investment', and just because Nu-Labour persists in miscalling it as spending, it doesn't mean we have to accept meekly their attempts to confuse the issue.

Saturday 21 May 2005

Congratulations to Greece - winners of the Eurovision Song Contest 2005!!

The winners this year are Greece, with 230 votes. Next year Athens!

Most of the songs this year were reasonably good (alright,OK, more or less), but I'm afraid there were a few 'duds' too, in my opinion, some because the song was poor, but quite a few because the voices of the performers were just not good enough (too many 'off' notes and weedy voices) - for example, Albania and Russia. The points awarded to each entry were as follows, in the order in which the songs were performed:
1. Hungary - 97
2. UK - 18
3. Malta - 192 (2nd)
4. Romania - 158 (3rd)
5. Norway - 125
6. Turkey - 92
7. Moldova - 148
8. Albania - 53
9. Cyprus - 46
10. Spain - 28
11. Israel - 154
12. Serbia & Montenegro - 137
13. Denmark - 125
14. Sweden - 30
15. FYR Macedonia - 52
16. Ukraine - 30
17. Germany - 4
18. Croatia - 115
19. Greece - 230 (WINNER!)
20. Russia - 57
21. Bosnia & Herzegovina - 79
22. Switzerland - 128
23. Latvia - 153
24. France - 11

Here is a still image taken from my video recording of the final moments of the voting:

The final results this evening

In the voting - Belarus gives 12 points to, guess who? Russia, of course! Iceland? Naturally, it's Norway! Estonia couldn't give 12 to Lithuania, because they weren't in the final, but of course Latvia got 10. Surprise, surprise - Andorra's 12 points go to Spain! Cyprus outdid itself with its voting - of course, Greece got 12, and Malta and the UK were remembered, too, so was Latvia - with its 1 vote (tactical, or what?). Etc, etc - you know the kind of thing! Of course, it was left to Ireland to take the UK (or, according to Stuart! - 'England') off its status as the last remaining holder of the coveted prize for Nul Points - they kindly gave us 8 points; Begorra!

I didn't think the British song was very good, and the performance this evening was very weak - so the low level of votes is perfectly justified. However, I do feel that both the French and German efforts were very harshly treated. I thought that the German song, in particular, was pretty good. At least no-one was left this year with 'nul points', though.

Now for the most important part of the evening - which of the male and female singers were the cutest and prettiest! In the female section, I think the French lady was 'mignone', the German singer was a sexy woman with a good voice, the Greek woman was a beautiful and sexy performer, the Romanian lady was a stunner (in a sort of 'Varoomshka' kind of way - do you like the beating with birch twigs before or after?), the Russian was pretty (but with a lousy voice) and the Swiss lady was pretty sexy. As for the males - the really important part for me, you understand, well I don't think there were any 'stunners' this time around, but honourable mentions need to go to Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark (Mr 'square jaw'), FYR Macedonia (a good looking man, together with quite a pretty moman), Latvia (both singers were 'cute', specially one of them), Serbia & Montenegro (all classically handsome men) and finally Sweden (a sexy male with a good voice, too).

In summary, in the 'cattle' stakes it probably has to go to Switzerland for the females - a sexy lady with a good voice. Amongst the men, even though both the Latvians were cute, the Serbia and Montenegro singers, the whole lot of them, were a pretty damn sexy bunch - Mmmmmmm!

Now, if you want to watch any of the songs again, you can do so by clicking any of the links here. The official Eurovision website for 2005 is here; they have quite a lot of detail on each of the entrants.

It was good to see it coming from Ukraine, specially after their Orange Revolution last November, the two lead presenters did a good job, although they were rather over-the-top.

So, next year the final will be in Athens. See you there!

Now, finally, how did I vote? Well, for me the top performers were, on the evening:
- Denmark
- FYR Macedonia
- Greece
- Latvia
- Moldova (not as good as in the semi-final, though)
- Sweden
- Switzerland

I voted, after a lot of thought, for Latvia - they had a nice song, good voices and cute singers. After them would have been Switzerland, then possibly Moldova (but they didn't perform well this evening). Then, for me, it was a toss-up between the others I mention above, although the Danish effort was probably top amongst the second-rankers.

However, the voters from around the European Broadcast Union countries saw it a little differently and gave the victory to Greece - not my first choice, but it was certainly a very creditable effort, so I don't begrudge them their victory in any way. Well done!

Friday 20 May 2005

Eurovision 2005 - the final - Saturday 21st May

In my recent post about the results of the semi-final for this year's contest (shown live last evening on BBC3), I gave the running order for the final as I knew it then - this tallied with what is printed in my RadioTimes. However, on trying to find a scorecard for the final (to download in .PDF format - how sad am I?) I eventually found this (*), and have now printed it out quite successfully. However, the running order of the performers seems to be totally different from what I could find last night and now seems to be:
1 - Albania
2 - Bosnia & Herzegovina
3 - Croatia
4 - Cyprus
5 - Denmark
6 - France
7 - FYR Macedonia
8 - Germany
9 - Greece
10 - Hungary
11 - Israel
12 - Latvia
13 - Malta
14 - Moldova
15 - Norway
16 - Romania
17 - Russia
18 - Serbia & Montenegro
19 - Spain
20 - Sweden
21 - Switzerland
22 - Turkey
23 - Ukraine
24 - United Kingdom

Eagle-eyed visitors will spot immediately that this is now in alphabetic order, which I suppose is 'logical', but it does mean that the UK is now singing last, rather than second as before. I hope, in any case, that there won't be further changes. Perhaps it's a case of keeping the best 'til last?

Enjoy the evening tomorrow - I know I shall. (See preview video clips of all the songs by clicking on the links here)

(*) - the .PDF file for the final scorecard is much larger than the one for the semi-final so it'll take quite a while to download (even on my 1MB broadband it took a while); they've added blue hearts, but I suppose that makes a difference from the pink hearts of the BBC Eurovision website.

If you want to succeed in business ...

... get that jacket and tie off! This intriguing article in The New York Times (registration required) about efforts in Japan, sponsored by the Government, to cut down on its energy import bill (it is the number two oil importer worldwide) by encouraging business-men (aka 'salarymen') not to wear a jacket and tie when coming to the office, or when visiting or receiving visitors, and not just on a Friday either! This is to be backed-up by plans for companies and organisations, private and public, to set their air-conditioning thermostats to a sweltering 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees Fahrenheit). (Of course the title of the NYT article glosses over the fact that sushi without the rice if of course sashimi.)

Of course, your average salaryman would not dream of leaving home without the usual charcoal grey suit, white shirt and dark tie, when going to work, for fear of what the boss might think - this is, after all, one of the most hierarchical countries on the planet. So senior business-people, including Toyota and Keidanren Chairman, Hiroshi Okuda (in other words, Japan's top businessman) and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, launched the new drive in April. Environment minister, Yuriko Koike, even went so far as to tell her employees: "This summer I will not allow anybody with tie or jacket into my office". The good lady (and there's another novel thing in Japan) announced that Kuuru Bizu (the clothing brand 'Cool Biz') had been chosen as an appropriate model for the casual look for summer. We used to think ourselves really lucky in Hong Kong to be allowed to wear a sports jacket or blazer with casual slacks (and tie, of course) on the one or two Saturday-mornings a month we had to appear at the office, and the catering staff ('mess servants' in the vernacular) would come around at midday to take our drinks orders, before we knocked-off at 12.30 for the weekend (make mine a G&T!), but not before signing the mess 'chit' of course.

Nairn Trees in their Spring leaves

Today it is mild, even warm in sheltered spots, in Nairn. As I did yesterday I thought I would walk up into town to get my newspaper, just to show I do have some empathy with 'green' notions of saving the planet, and a very enjoyable little excursion it proved to be. Just a few yards from my home, going in the direction of the links on the putting-pitch side I saw just how nice was the vista looking down into the park in the direction of Cromarty away at the other side of the Firth (i.e. The Moray Firth). Then walking up through the rise into Viewfield Park from Glebe Road, more beautiful mature trees are now showing all their Spring finery. I thought I should share these joyous images, so here they are:

Nairn links, putting-pitch side - 20 May 2005

Nairn, Viewfield House Park - 20 May 2005
Viewfield House is now used as Nairn Museum

- for those who may have wondered, the tree surrounded by a green wrought-iron fence in the first photograph was planted to mark the Coronation - of King George V, that is, in 1911! (The world has changed a little since those days, n'est-ce pas?)

Thursday 19 May 2005

Eurovision 2005 - Semi-finals from Kiev (Ukraine)

Tonight saw the first instalment of the 'campery' that is the annual Eurovison Song Contest (2005 - Official Eurovision Website and BBC Eurovision Website). The semi-final was held this evening in Kiev, Ukraine (carried live in the UK on BBC3). Ukraine won the jamboree last year and my reports of the 2004 event are here [final] and here [semi-final].

This year there were 25 semi-finalists, with ten countries eligible for selection as finalists.

Semi-Finalists (Those in red are through to the final)
01 - Austria
02 - Lithuania
03 - Portugal
04 - Moldova
05 - Latvia
06 - Monaco
07 - Israel
08 - Belarus
09 - Netherlands
10 - Iceland
11 - Belgium
12 - Estonia
13 - Norway
14 - Romania
15 - Hungary
16 - Finland
17 - FYR Macedonaia
18 - Andorra
19 - Switzerland
20 - Croatia
21 - Bulgaria
22 - Ireland
23 - Slovenia
24 - Denmark
25 - Poland
- based on telephone and SMS (text) voting, co-ordinated in Cologne; individual points not known. The 10 successful countries above now go forward to join the 14 countries who are already, under Eurovision rules, selected for the final.

The running order for the final will now therefore be
1. Hungary
2. UK
3. Malta
4. Romania
5. Norway
6. Turkey
7. Moldova
8. Albania
9. Cyprus
10. Spain
11. Israel
12. Serbia & Montenegro
13. Denmark
14. Sweden
15. FYR Macedonia
16. Ukraine
17. Germany
18. Croatia
19. Greece
20. Russia
21. Bosnia & Herzegovina
22. Switzerland
23. Latvia
24. France
- Eurovision listing of the finalists

My vote went for first-time entrant (and very new country) Moldova, whose entry was a quite extraordinarily enjoyable boppy romp. I'm pleased, and not surprised, that they have managed to reach the final.

My next to choice would have been Estonia, but it did not reach the final. Other countries I rated highly were Iceland, Belgium, Romania, the FYR Macedonia and Denmark and of these, Romania, FYR Macedonia and Denmark reached the final.

Others that reached the final, that I did not rate quite so high, included Latvia, Israel, Norway, Hungary and Croatia. The first three were pretty good, but quite why the last two got through is a mystery to me - decent enough tunes, but I didn't think the voices of the performers merited inclusion.

As usual in recent years the vast majority of the songs were sung either solely or almost totally in English; this is a pity, but I'm glad to say there were two songs sung in French (Monaco and Belgium) - both were either decent or excelllent songs, performed by people with top quality voices, but neither reached the final. Other liguistic 'curioisites' were Israel (parially in Hebrew), Hungary (Hungarian), Andorra (didn't sound like Spanish to me, perhaps they have their own language?), Croatia (Serbo-Croat?), Slovenia (did not sound the same as Croatia, perhaps they have their own language?) and Poland (Polish).

The first year I wrote about Eurovision in this blog was in 2003, when it was won by Turkey - my post about that year's event is here.

As usual this coming Saturday (21st May 2005), for the final, I'll be spending the evening watching it in the company of a bottle of champagne and a decent-size box of handmade Belgian chocolates - salut!

UPDATE: (Friday 20MAY05 17.10 BST) I couldn't find the link to a page giving access to video clips of all the songs last night when I was writing this post, but I've now located it - click here (what's with all the pink hearts though?).

'Divertissements' for a leisurely (kinda) afternoon ...

This is a completely narcissistic article about me and my little life - no serious comment or thought was invoked in the writing of this post. Feel free to skip it if you've got something better, or indeed anything at all, to do ...

Today is a funny kinda day for me, and part of tomorrow will probably be like this, too. Yesterday, on the other hand, was pretty hectic - in preparation for today. Let me explain - although various 'snagging' work was done on my new apartment after I'd been here for a year, some other things have shown up now that I've been here for almost five years. The builders are therefore back today and tomorrow doing the various bits of corrective work necessary - some of the doors needing adjusting (so they close properly), some of the decorative coving needing fixing, 'stud' marks on various walls and ceilings, etc. Yesterday was pretty busy whilst I moved furniture and pictures out of several rooms and cleared a couple of clothes stores (in a spare bedroom), and relocated some of this to my own bedroom (largely unaffected by these problems) - which has left my own bedroom unusable for the present. So I've relocated myself along the corridor of this level of the building to one of the guest suites for several nights, until this work is completed (last night I slept really well, as the guest suite beds are really very comfortable, kinda 'firm' - just like my own bed). I hope to be back in my own bedroom for Saturday night.

So today, apart from having to get out of bed rather earlier than is my normal practice (6.30am for goodness sake!), so I could be washed, dressed and breakfasted before the scheduled arrival time of the workmen (8.30am), I've devoted some of my time to writing this particularly enthralling article. However, after their arrival I have little else to do today apart from taking the dog for a walk and dealing with some personal accounting stuff on the PC and visiting the bank (a great walk up through the park, incidentally - it's become quite mild this afternoon after a pretty breezy and chilly morning).

Now, you may be asking, is this post going anywhere at all, or will it not end soon? Well the answers are, yes (at least partially) and no - so read on, if you want ...

I've been following for a while the blog of a young blogger called Charlie Williams who lives in Perth (Australia) and writes at Playing for the Wrong Team (i.e. he is a gay young man). He has a post up today that is quite interesting - starts off about a recent car show in Perth with a link to some nice photographs of various of the smart cars on display, if you're a car buff, and moves on to one of those round-robin thingies which is mildly amusing and you might care to try it yourself (read on). The previous post, too (seemingly unpromisingly entitled Skip This Post) is interesting - covering the kinds of things he does to improve and/or manipulate images. I do quite a lot of this, too, and enjoy also creating various graphics (some of which are dotted around my websites) - like Charlie, one of the pieces of software I use for this is Adobe Photoshop Elements, although I use Adobe Photodeluxe as well because it is somewhat easier to use, if rather less flexible.

Anyway, back to the 'round robin' thingie ...

The Rules:
Pick 5 occupations and complete the sentence.
Add some more occupations.
Pass it on to at least 3 other bloggers.
Have Fun! (That's a rule!)

The List:
If I could be a scientist...
If I could be a farmer...
If I could be a musician...
If I could be a doctor...
If I could be a painter...
If I could be a gardener...
If I could be a missionary...
If I could be a chef...
If I could be an architect...
If I could be a linguist...
If I could be a psychologist...
If I could be a librarian...
If I could be an athlete...
If I could be a lawyer...
If I could be an innkeeper...
If I could be a professor...
If I could be a writer...
If I could be a llama-rider...
If I could be a bonnie pirate...
If I could be a service member...
If I could be a business owner...
If I could be an actor...
If I could be an agent...
If I could be video game designer...
If I could be a comic book artist...
If I could be a hooker...
If I could be a crack addict...
If I could be a porn star...
If I could be a mime...
If I could be a domestic engineer...
If I could be a chimney sweep...
If I could be a masseuse...
If I could be a taxi driver...
If I could be a priest...
If I could be a window cleaner...
If I could be a gynecologist...
If I could be a world leader...
If I could be a healer...
If I could be a proctologist...
If I could be a carpenter...
If I could be a amusement park ride operator...
If I could be the manager of an adult bookstore...
If I could be Pat Benatar...
If I could be a hermit...
If I could be a social parasite...
If I could be an X-Man...
If I could be Paris Hilton...
If I could be a movie director...
If I could be a super model...
If I could be the new pope...
My additions:
If I could be a neurosurgeon ...
If I could be a playwrite ...
If I could be a Belgian ...

My answers:
If I could be an architect... I'd love to have designed the new Scottish Parliament building (and it would be very different from the one we have);

If I could be a bonnie pirate... I'd steer my 'vessel' into the England national team rugby dressing room and take Jonny Wilkinson (mmmmm ...) as my 'booty';

If I could be a domestic engineer... (whatever that is, I think I get it) I'd bake 'my man' a cake - and it would be nice to have a 'my man', too ... lol;

If I could be a carpenter... I'd sport a really superior toolbelt;

If I could be the new pope... I'd issue at least one encyclical pretty sharpish, radically altering the Church's policies on homosexuality, specifically relating to partnership and/or marriage for same-sex couples, which I would permit and I would not contemplate canonising the late Pontiff (John Paul II) for many years yet, if ever;

Perhaps Alan or Stephen or Graisg or David would care to give this a go?

If you've followed this right to the end, good on you!

China says 'No!' to gay information website

A website dealing with LGBT issues within mainland China has been blocked by the Chinese authorities. The site, although hosted outside China, is run "by volunteers mainly in mainland China" and apparently got 50 to 60,000 hits a day. The site,, is still available outside China - although if you don't have Chinese character script installed on your PC it won't make much sense. There's another much more detailed report on this latest incident in the Sydney Morning Herald.

China seems to blow hot and cold (mainly cold, of course) about matters relating to issues of sexuality, even purely informational and non-political sites such as this one. Just last month a gay film festival at Beijing University was forced to move venues, although it took place later at a disused factory nearby. Incidentally I heard recently that there had been police interference of late in a number of the gay bars and dancing clubs/'saunas' in Hong Kong's Hollywood Road area, although it does remain much more free than the rest of China. When I first lived in HK homosexuality was completely illegal, although it was decriminalised in the late 1980s and since then has become much more widely acknowledged, if not universally accepted.

Tuesday 17 May 2005

A Scottish laddie goes to Washington ...

... I speak, in this instance, of the Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow, George 'gorgeous' Galloway, who today gave what was described by a commentator on BBC News24 as a 'mesmerising' performance, during his appearance under oath before a US Senate committee. A pretty accurate description, I'd say.

Over the course of the past year or two I've had occasion to mention the name of George Galloway a few times. He is not one of my favourite people. However, there is no denying the fact that he gave a pretty good account of himself. Whether any of the allegations that the Senate committee have made have substance is completely unknown to me, but the performances of the three principal participants today (US Senators Norm Coleman (R), the committee chairman, and Carl Levin (D) - read about them here, and George Galloway himself) were strikingly different. George was his usual strident self, although I believe he retained his composure and showed an acceptable level of courtesy throughout.

Interestingly, after the session had ended, I saw Sen Coleman give a brief interview when he blustered that Mr Galloway has 'little credibility' and warned him that the consequences of lying before a Senate committee 'could be serious', implying one supposes that this is what he thinks Mr Galloway may have done.

I have little liking for Mr Galloway, or what he stands for, and I continue to believe that the toppling from power of Saddam Hussein was sufficient justification in itself for our military action in Iraq, whatever 'international law' may have to say about it, and however cack-handed(*) may have been some of the actions of the coalition in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was toppled. Nevertheless my impression is that this particular US Senate committee did not show itself in a particularly impressive light today, when faced with someone who declined to roll over and be mugged by the (what should be) impressive majesty of a staid US Senate committee, but whose principal members did not seem to have the facts to hand to back up their allegations; this applies specially to Sen Norm Coleman, the Republican chairman of the committee.

(*) - as a matter of interest this writer is himself left-handed, so no disrespect is intended toward the 'sinistrals' amongst us; as someone alluded to 'political correctness' in commenting on one of my recent posts, I thought I should just mention this for the record.

Sunday 15 May 2005

Scottish police forces to screen for racists at recruitment

The eight Scottish police forces are to screen new recruits to try and ensure that racists are weeded out before they are unleashed on the public. Like many people I was shocked by the revelations on the 'Secret Policeman' programme about the goings-on in Manchester, which led to screening being launched in England and Wales some time ago. It is good to see Scotland starting a similar process.

It strikes me, though, that there are probably other equally essential areas to cover when recruiting new personnel into the police forces - in some parts of Scotland 'sectarianism' is rife (i.e. west Central Scotland, in particular) and I imagine that attitudes towards sexuality are less advanced, both at the official level and amongst individual police officers, specially outside of the main urban areas.

PS/ Obviously I have now returned from my short Spring (and coincidentally post-election) holiday - it was relaxing and enjoyable; I even managed a few hours basking in the sun. I'll return to more regular blogging tomorrow or Tuesday.

Friday 6 May 2005

Election result - and a brief hiatus

At the time of writing 622 of 646 results have been declared:
Labour - 353
Conservative - 196
Liberal Democrats - 61
Scottish National Party - 6
Plaid Cymru - 3
IKHH - 1
Others - 2
- expected Labour overall majority is still around 66.

Unfortunately this is still a reasonably comfortable margin to govern, although whether Labour will now be able to push through controversial legislation such as the ID Card Bill is perhaps doubtful - at least this may be a positive outcome. Full election results are available here.

Well folks, now that the election is out of the way, I'm off to Perthshire for a week of relative isolation, and of relaxation with quite a lot of walking in the countryside around Lochs Rannoch and Tummell:

Taken from the southern side of Loch Tummell - May 2004

- I spend my time in a cottage half a mile down a dirt track near Dunalastair Water, a small loch located between the two main lochs, Lochs Rannoch and Tummell, and well out of the reach of a mobile telephone. It's a beautiful part of Scotland and I try to go there most years. I will be away for about a week, so will probably not re-appear here until about 16th or 17th May. Have fun, and if you get bored there are plenty of good blogs to read - see my blogroll at right.

Thursday 5 May 2005

Wednesday 4 May 2005

"Most Scots want to stay part of United Kingdom"

This is a frontpage story in today's Scottish print edition of The Daily Telegraph (no online link found yet) and relates to a YouGov poll in Scotland done for the Telegraph. The main analysis article is on page 8 of the print edition (again I can trace no online link).

The poll is interesting, but unsurprising - except perhaps to the fantasists of the SNP! The most important question, which gets right to the nub of the question:

I feel British as well as Scottish and do not want to stop being British

All voters - 57 per cent
Pro-Union Voters - 81 per cent
Pro-Independence Voters - 29 per cent

All voters - 34 per cent
Pro-Union Voters - 16 per cent
Pro-Independence Voters - 63 per cent

Another of the questions is quite interestiong, too:

It's simple: the Scottish people are a separate nation and they should have their own independent country to reflect that fact

All voters - 44 per cent
Pro-Union Voters - 18 per cent
Pro-Independence Voters - 88 per cent

All voters - 41 per cent
Pro-Union Voters - 70 per cent
Pro-Independence Voters - 5 per cent

- and the Scottish people are free, tomorrow, to vote for this outcome (via a vote for the SNP) if they wish. They have conspicuously failed to choose this option so far.

There are fifty-nine seats at Westminster from Scotland. How many is it likely the SNP will win tomorrow? If this poll is a guide, roughly what they have now, perhaps a few more. Of course Scotland has a long future and who knows where we might be in fifty or a hundred years, but I think it safe to assume that Scotland's place within the United Kingdom is safe for a while yet.

John Richard Humphreys Beadon (1910 - 30 April 2005) - R.I.P.

I did not know Mr Beadon, but he was a former colleague in the bank I worked for. He served between 1927 and 1961, in other words he retired when I was only nine years old. So why am I writing about him here? Well, I just had an email notification of his demise and was intrigued to note where he lived and where his funeral is to take place, today, on St Helena - a small island in the South Atlantic; I had noticed his exotic address before from a list I receive regularly. Indeed there are a number of other less usual current countries of residence (e.g. Turks and Caicos Islands, Andorra, Mauritius, Brasil, Nepal) or former staff such as me, but I think St Helena is probably the most remote, with a regular sea link only about twice a month; there is at present no airport.

The email says he passed away peacefully - not bad, to live to the age of 95 and to pass away peacefully in a remote and peaceful (and I assume windy) spot.

I voted a few days back ... postally

As I wrote here a few days ago, I had not at the time returned my postal vote. I have now done so - in fact I sent it off last Friday, so it was probably delivered only yesterday, the first day after the Bank Holiday. I also indicated in a previous post that I was considering putting in a sort of 'protest' vote for the local Publican Party, which is campaigning, principally, against a smoking ban in pubs. My 'protest' would have been on the basis of civil liberties, to support the notion of keeping the State out of citizens' affairs as far as possible.

However, re-reading a post and the associated comments at A Gurn from Nurn (Graisg) in a post entitled Campaign gets cancerous?, has made me consider more seriously where my vote should go and re-assess whether my comment near the end of this post that "they [the Publican Party] at least seem like a harmless enough bunch"was not just too flippant, even for me. So I decided that, whatever I did, I was not going to vote for the Publican Party.

So how did I vote? Well, after a lot of soul-searching, I decided not to write 'NONE OF THESE' as I did at the last elections for the Scottish Parliament on both the FPTP ballot paper and the modified-PR ballot paper, and instead vote where my political instincts [mostly] lie - I voted 'Conservative'. I did this, to some extent, through gritted teeth, because there are a number of aspects of Conservative policy in the areas of social, economic and immigration policy that nake me question their motives. For example, are the worries I mentioned here, and alluded to in the comments to another of my posts about the believability of the Party's conversion to a policy of inclusivity to be ignored? Obviously not. Similarly, what I see as the political expediency illustrated by the timidity of the Conservative Party's economic aims, which allowed them to dispense in so cavalier a manner with the services of former Vice-Chairman [and very much a 'social conservative, too, of course] Howard Flight, must count as a negative factor.

On balance (admittedly not a very pronounced one), though, I consider the Conservative manifesto to be the most practical and achievable of any of the major Parties. I certainly don't want four or five more years of the so-called 'sound' economic management of Gordon Brown and I think that the LibDems economic policies would similarly push the UK further down Brown's route to long-term indebtedness for the country, even if their policy of opposing ID Cards is sounder than the Labour or Conservative stances. Not an easy choice. On the other hand, of course, my one vote here for a Conservative candidate is not [probably] very critical, as a Conservative victory here would imply an impending political earthquake throughout the country, which even the wildest opinion polls have not indicated is about to happen, even if I did hear one the BBC political correspondents (the one with the Northern Irish accent - his name escapes me for the present) on the 'Today' programme on BBC Radio4 this morning venture the idea that Michael Howard could be PM on Friday. This particular commentator has always struck me as a pretty sound judge of what is happening on matters he chooses to comment about, so while I am not convinced I am not willing to completely pooh-pooh his speculation. Only between 36 and 48 hours to go until the speculation will be over, though, unless postal voting does turn out to have been a shambles ...

Monday 2 May 2005

Forbidden territory - 'til 30th September ...

... for dogs, that is. Nairn beach, between the pier in the far distance and the swimming pool, about 300 yards behind me, is off-limits to dogs between 1st May and 30th September each year. Nairn prides itself on the cleanliness of its beach and our canine friends, it is thought, might jeopardise its 'Blue Flag' status - fair enough, the town is a traditional Scottish seaside resort and is popular with bathers (hardy souls!) and even if I doubt dogs would choose to foul the beach when there is plenty of more congenial grassy land behind the beach, I accept the presence of dogs at the same time as families with children would probably be seen as 'counter-productive' for the tourist trade. I haven't yet heard whether the beach has retained the 'Blue Flag' it won back last year (this will probably be announced later this month, or early in June).

Nairn beach - 2 May 05

(photograph taken with my Sony Ericcson mobile 'phone and sent to my email account)

- Tara will have to be patient until 1st October, and of course we can go beyond the harbour until then.

Dr Gillian McKeith debunked?

Like many others, I imagine, I have watched some of the programmes fronted by this lady on Channel4's 'You are what you eat' series. I found them quite interesting. Just how had some of the people on the show got themselves into the mess they obviously had and just how had they developed such poor eating habits? Even before I lost a lot of weight with the Atkins diet, I ate a lot of 'healthy' food; the trouble was that I ate a lot too much food in general and mixed up with the healthy things I have always eaten was a great deal that could most charitably be classified as 'unwise'. Now I know a lot of people don't rate Atkins's methods very highly, but that's a different topic.

I assumed that the good lady actually had some scientific basis for talking about the subject of nutrition, other than just promulgating what seemed to me to be common sense ideas on ways to eat more healthily. However, this website makes me wonder. If a lot of, or anything, said about the good lady in this website is factual then it would seem a great deal of scepticism needs to be used when watching future programmes, if any are planned.
(thru Black Triangle)

Sunday 1 May 2005

First Lady Laura Bush says she is a 'Desperate Housewife'

Laura Bush on her husband George W:

"I said to him the other day, 'George, if you really want to end tyranny in this world, you're going to have to stay up later,"' Laura Bush said. "Nine o'clock and Mr. Excitement here is in bed, and I am watching 'Desperate Housewives' -- with Lynne Cheney. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife."

- during a speech at the White House correspondents annual dinner on Saturday. Do something about it then, lady, kick him outa the house - ho, ho, ho.

Are there other Desperate Housewives out there (Cherie Blair, Sandra Howard, Sarah Kennedy?), I wonder?

(A little light relief from the tedium of a British election campaign)