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2006-01-13 17:28

Not just stateless, microscopically stateless

The Wikipedia article European Microstates is not responding. We are slightly worried - have they been annexed? (We like microstates - even the Vatican, without which what would we hate?)


2006-01-13 14:06

Why I am so very cheap

It is newspaper freebies!

Rupert Murdoch hates them. The home entertainment toppers of the Hollywood studios regard them as a disaster for the DVD business. And they drive video retailers crazy.

But for British newspapers (including Murdoch's own Times), the blizzard of free DVDs that they have snowed upon their readers this autumn has worked, in the words of one commentator, like "circulation Viagra."

Tomorrow it's Closely Observed Trains in the Indybladet, but we haven't seen a coming-attractions blog.

And it's not just happening in the U.K. The German and Polish markets have been equally blighted by newspaper giveaways. German newspapers gave their readers a staggering 36 million DVD movies in September and October.

Blight me harder, for sure!


2006-01-13 11:53


Genderbug genderbug fly away home,
Your house in on fire and your children are gone,
All except one and that's little Ann,
For she crept under the frying pan.

There's more than one (1) that crept under this constitutional frying pan. Item:

Brittiska prinsar har ocks i framtiden fretrde till den brittiska tronen - ven om det finns en ldre syster i familjen. Brittiska parlamentets verhus avvisade p onsdagen ett frslag om att ldst gr frst till tronen oavsett kn.

British prinses will also in the future take precedence as heirs to the British throne - even if there's an older syster in teh fambly. On Wodin's day the House of Lah-di-dah Lords rejected a proposal that the eldest should inherit the throne regardless of sex.

How pants is that?!

Also; item:

Victoria fr inte bli "godsherre" som pappa.
Kronprinsessan hindras att rva fr att hon r kvinna. Bara prinsar fr verta kungagodset Stenhammar.

Kronprinsess Vickan of Zweden inherits the throne, of course, but not a castle. Girls can't inherit castles. (Frankly it looks more of a chteau to us, but it's the principle of the thing, dammit.)

Such sillinesses! Make them stop!


2006-01-12 17:41

For shame, Danmark!

Ander Fogh lover sin tjekkiske kollega, at undersge om starbejdere holdes udenfor Danmark af bureaukratiske regler.

Ander "Foggy Foggy" Fogh promises his Czech colleagues to investigate into Eastern [Yoorpean] workers being kept out by bureaucratic rules.

We can predict the results of the research right now: "It turns out that's the way we like it, non-Danish suckers! Boo ya!"


2006-01-12 14:22

A day well spent

The bug was that the I was using one version of Python 2.3 (in /usr/) and unwittingly including a different set of Python 2.3 header files, which had a different set of values for an enum type I was relying on (in /usr/local).

How very jolly of them to change such somethings within the sequence of 2.3 releases! What larks, eh, Varied Reader, what larks!


2006-01-12 10:56

Belgium, man! Belgium!

It is inexplicable Francophone singingsensation Johnny Halliday, who wishes - as surely we all do deep down - to become Belgian and is willing - as who would not be? - to sacrifice his French citizenship in the process.

Incidentally, there is no truth at all in the rumours that we falsified the evidence of our successful and ground-breaking cloning of Belgium. Check the map, Varied Reader; check the map!


2006-01-11 21:16


Of course, one of these interpretations is not right and the other wrong [...]

p.8 A221 State, Economy and Nation Book I, Open University

First time out we read this as "one of these interpretetations is incorrect and the other one wrong", which struck us as endearingly cantankerous. But second time through we found a sensibler reading, chiz chiz.

2006-01-11 16:57


The problem with learning to appreciate almost anything is that opportunities enjoy said something being done well are vastly outnumbered by opportunities to unenjoy it being done badly.

We, of course, are smarter than the average emperor and we have carefully avoided developing a palette for wine or much aesthetic sense generally for just this reason. But we've learned a very very very very very little bit about typography in the last few weeks, and now almost everything we try to read hurts our eyes.

Learn from our mistake on this one, Varied Reader - stay ignorant.


2006-01-11 13:58

What do you mean "invited"?

A high-tech scanner that digitally "strips" travellers on their way to their plane or train will go on trial for four weeks from Thursday at a major London rail station, officials said.

Passengers at Paddington Station in West London will be invited to pass through the scanner before they board the Heathrow Express non-stop train service to the British capital's main airport.

As if the Heathrow "Express" wasn't irritating enough already!


2006-01-11 10:07

Beware the Schwyzerdtsch, my son:

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch, isn't it?

La vague du schwyzerdtsch qui a dferl sur le pays depuis prs de quarante ans ne fragilise pas seulement la cohsion fdrale. Elle commence faire du tort aux Suisses almaniques eux-mmes. En se fermant l'accs un espace germanophone qui est le plus fort dmographiquement parlant du continent europen, ils risquent la marginalisation.

The wave of Schwyzerdtsch which has deferled on the country over the last forty (40) years doesn't just endanger federal cohesion. It's beginning to harm the Swiss-Germans themselves. In closing access to the Germanophone space which is demographically the largest speech community on the European continent, they risk marginalisation.

Toute la Suisse almanique conquise par le dialecte? A en croire les propos et les habitudes de la jeune gnration, il n'y a aucun doute. C'est exclusivement en dialecte qu'on s'envoie des SMS. On crit aussi massivement en dialecte dans les forums internet. Quant au rap en bernois, il a pris la tte des ventes de disques depuis deux ans.

Ooh l l! The childrens they are texting in dialecte! I have never heard of la diglossie and I worry that the sky she is falling! Also, I am unfamiliar with Friesland and Norway and many other places where non metropolitan dialects thrive, and my silly Jacobin instincts make me quiver with horror and loathing at the thought!

Also, you might want to shun the Bandersnatchit's looking pretty frumious just lately.


2006-01-10 16:32

Things we put on back to front today

  1. Our watch. (This never happened with our digital watch, of course.)
  2. Our underpants

It's a polo-shirt day, otherwise we'd prolly 've managed that too.


2006-01-10 14:31

Why is it never Dutch, eh?

It is Gran Hgg, Swedishperson at large, and it is especially his annual upproundning of schoolbooks! In very particular, French and German textbooks, which he finds good, but:

Problemet nr det gller till exempel spanska, franska och tyska r ett annat: styrande myndigheter vill avskaffa timplanen — vilket r en fara fr alla sprk utom engelska: ”

The problem when it comes to Spanish, French and German is quite different: the authorities want to reduce the timeplan “which is a danger for all langwidges other than Engleesh”

Despite their alleged excellence, we're sticking with the Frankfurter Allegorical Zossagebladet's skihoppning articles and our ancient Teach Yourselfs, thanks.


2006-01-10 11:23

Yow! Are we banned in China yet?

Congratulations to the 'Pedia, which is:

Chinese students and intellectuals are expressing outrage at Beijing's decision to prohibit access to Wikipedia, the fast-growing on-line encyclopedia that has become a basic resource for many in China.

Wikipedia, which offers more than 2.2 million articles in 100 languages, has emerged as an important source of scholarly knowledge in China and many other countries. But its stubborn neutrality and independence on political issues such as Tibet and Taiwan has repeatedly drawn the wrath of the Communist authorities.

We are now idly curious to see what Microsoft's fearless and heroic lapdogs have perpetrated on the subject in the Chinese edition of Encarta.


2006-01-09 18:03

Sorry, non-Wegiophones

It is an unusually good article on newspaper fonts, but it is in Zwedish.

Did you know that Linotype's textype retains a loyal following among Zwedish 'bladets? Neither did we.


2006-01-09 13:48


1. Yes, we have no banana republics!

It is Espain, where the head of the army's ground forces suggested that the uppity Cataloonies could maybe benefit from a dose of cold steel to teach them a lesson, and became in the process the ex-head of the army's ground forces:

Spanish Defence Minister Jose Bono has said comments by a general suggesting military intervention in Catalonia are not supported by the armed forces.

Lieutenant-General Jose Mena Aguado was put under house arrest after saying the army could be deployed if autonomy plans violated the constitution.

In our informal Euro-Loony Index modern Espain lags a long way behind Greeceland or Italia, and it looks like they want to keep it that way.

2. Of prinsesses and pecking orders

It is prinsess Madeleine of Zweden! And Hello! magazine has awarded her an award:

Prinsessan Madeleines stjrnstatus bara vxer.
Enligt den engelska tidningen Hello! r hon en av vrldens mest eleganta kvinnor just nu.

Prinsess Madeleine's star-status only grows.
According to the English sycophantbladet Hello! she is one of the world's most elegant wimmins just now.

We've been on the prinsess beat long enough to remember when the Prinsessmary of Danmark and even Mette-Marit were on this list, and we wonder how exactly they got off it. We suspect their various sproggnings had something to do with it, but the example of M-M shows that it must be post-prinsessly sproggning that is the decisive factor.

3. Mozart, Shmozart!

It is the bicentenary of John Stuart "Wind" Mill this year!

A major international and inter-disciplinary Conference will be held at UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON, scheduled for 5-7 April 2006, to mark the bicentenary of the birth of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873).

We now return you to your regularly scheduled period-instrument performance of Die Zauberflte.


2006-01-09 11:58


1. Skispringen Doppelsieg

It is Janne "The Manne" Ahohen and Jakub Janda - unprecedented doublewinners of Hoppweek!

Es war das spannendste Finish aller Zeiten. Und es endete vershnlich: Janne Ahonen und Jakub Janda haben gemeinsam mit 1081,5 Punkten die 54. Vierschanzen-Tournee gewonnen.

It was the excitingest finish of all time. And it ended vershnlich: Janne Ahonen and Jakub Janda jointly won the 54th Hoppweek contest with 1081.5 points each.

2. Circulate me harder!

It is a list of the biggest circulations in Yoorp

1 Bild Germany 4 220 000
2 The Sun United Kingdom 3 461 000
3 Daily Mail United Kingdom 2 411 000
4 The Mirror United Kingdom 2 117 000
5 Zeitungsgruppe WAZ Germany 1 064 000
6 Neue Kronen Zeitung Austria 1 018 000
7 Daily Telegraph United Kingdom 1 003 000
8 Daily Express United Kingdom 930 000
9 De Telegraaf The Netherlands 795 000
10 Ouest France France 785 000
11 The Times United Kingdom 705 000
12 Corriere della Sera Italy 690 000
13 Daily Star United Kingdom 673 000
14 La Repubblica Italy 624 000
15 Daily Record* United Kingdom (Scotland) 566 000
16 Le Parisien/Aujourd'hui* France 485 000
17 Financial Times* United Kingdom 479 000
18 Zeitungsgruppe Thringen* Germany 458 000
19 Helsingin Sanomat* Finland 446 000
20 La Gazzetta dello Sport* Italy 445 000

* 2001 circulation Table 2: Top 20 newspapers in EU based on 2002 circulation (Source: World Press Trends 2002, International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Circulation)

3. Make your time, "Pope"

It is insolence from the Vatican:

A draft treaty between Slovakia and the Holy See would allow hospital staff to refuse to do abortions or fertility treatment on religious grounds.

[...] The draft treaty is yet to be signed. If it is, it will have the status of an international treaty, as the Vatican is a sovereign state.

For now it is, for now...


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