Friday, 21 July 2017

Cute Cat Friday 2017-07-21: Quincy

Our campus cat enjoying a snooze.


Funky Garb

Tim Farron is an utter dingbat and I'm glad he's stepping down as Liberal Democrat leader.

Tim Farron. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Maybe this conclusion seems harsh. It's not based on his faith. It's not even based on his years of obfuscation over whether he considers homosexuality a sin, or his support for homeopathy, although those don't help. It's based on a truly idiotic and self-pitying article he published this week.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Cute Cat Friday 2017-07-14: Joni

Watchful cat on the stairs.

(We have a lot fewer cat-on-stairs photos, ever since we installed the stair gates for toddler safety.)


Ancient History

It was in the UK's national interest to join the EU, and encourage it to grow. The reasoning was broadcast thirty-seven years ago in the BBC comedy Yes, Minister, and remains valid today:

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister, Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last 500 years: to create a disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with the Dutch against the Spanish, with the Germans against the French, with the French and Italians against the Germans, and with the French against the Germans and Italians. Divide and rule, you see. Why should we change now, when it's worked so well? 
James Hacker: That's all ancient history, surely. 
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, and current policy. We had to break the whole thing up, so we had to get inside. We tried to break it up from the outside, but that wouldn't work. Now that we're inside we can make a complete pig's breakfast of the whole thing: set the Germans against the French, the French against the Italians, the Italians against the Dutch. The Foreign Office is terribly pleased; it's just like old times. 
James Hacker: Surely we're all committed to the European ideal. 
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Really, Minister. [laughs] 
James Hacker: If not, why are we pushing for an increase in the membership? 
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, for the same reason. It's just like the United Nations, in fact. The more members it has, the more arguments it can stir up. The more futile and impotent it becomes. 
James Hacker: What appalling cynicism. 
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes. We call it diplomacy, Minister.

Sir Humphrey was cynical, but he wasn't wrong. At least since the time of Elizabeth I, England (and later the UK) intervened in Europe to prevent any one power from growing too strong. It would conduct diplomacy, and fight wars if needed, to constrain strong governments on the Continent. This held true as great powers rose and fell, from Habsburg Spain to Napoleonic France to imperial Germany. In this way the UK was able to promote its own trade, security, and other national interests.


Friday, 7 July 2017

Cute Cat Friday 2017-07-07: Joni

Happy cat enjoying a chin scratch.



Worse Than We Imagined

Most fictional Presidents are better than Trump, even the really bad ones.

It's not hard to find noble and inspiring fictional Presidents. They may be wise and sagacious leaders (The West Wing); steely-eyed crisis managers (Deep Impact, Tom Clancy novels); or even kick-ass action heroes (Air Force One, White House Down, Independence Day). This is to be expected; the office of President attracts a certain amount of reverence, and stories need heroes.

The White House.
Source: Adrian Grey / Flickr