Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A rare moment of self-reflection

The media pauses for a moment and reflects on its own woman-hating self. There's whole panel of punditry reflecting on just a few incidents of the heavy misogyny we've all been treated to during this campaign. (Via TGW)

Probably too little, too late now.

I hope what comes out of all of this is an honest debate about how women, especially successful women, are treated - and that some progress is made. But I doubt that happens. I think this whole campaign season will demonstrate what happens to uppity women. Truly, bitch is the new black.


Since the Don Imus incident was mentioned (ever so briefly, since, strictly speaking it has nothing to do with this year's presidential politics), I'd like to add my two cents, too - since I didn't manage to do so at the time. I also believe that if Don Imus had just limited his comments to sexism he'd have probably gotten away with it. And I don't want to disrespect the Rutgers women's basketball team.

But I think we're forgetting who really got slighted in all that.

The Lady Vols.

Their great accomplishment got completely sidelined. They won, the National Championship, remember that? Rutgers came a mere (but respectable) second. But, of course, Pat Head Summitt has too much class to say that.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The real contest

Well tonight it's the Eurovision song contest - the finals - the moment you've all been waiting for. No need to highlight all the different acts, since I've done that and more in the semi-final coverage. (Here and here) So what follows is just a series of random thoughts,

I will say that the UK entry (which got an automatic pass being one of the big funders of the contest) was not completely embarassing as they have been in some years. And the German entry (another bye) was OK, some women in tight dresses singing in a mediocre fashion.

Best part thing of the night so far is turning on the lyrics. Where they're in the native tongue of the entrant it's quite the revelation and often it's quite a revelation to discover that they are in fact singing in English (like the Georgian and Azerbaijani entries).

We liked the Finnish entry, but the Vol-in-Law loves it even more now that he know the lyrics translated mean something like "All the men must ride forth, sheep can not graze there." (See the video here).

Perhaps the most controvesial entry in English is the French one. I thought it was a law that they had to do everything in French and apparently this is le uproar over this across Le Channel. It's not a great entry anyway.

We've definitely decided that the Swedish entry Charlotte Pirelli is not a woman. Thank goodness for second looks.

The Spanish have done a joke entry - and it's a very bad joke indeed. They're being booed off the stage. They're still booing as last year's winner takes the stage. It makes Estonia's joke entry with dancing and singing washed up Estonian MPs look professional. That's how bad the Spanish entry was. Nil points.

The Serbian entry - the final bye of the evening - was OK. Lyrics like "wake me up on St Vitus day" - which is apt because apparently his saintly powers include protection against oversleeping.

Vol Mom - visiting from America actually voted (on our phone line) for Norway. It only cost 15 pence (about 30 cents), which isn't too bad.


As the votes are counted, I'm guessing

Ukraine or Russia to take all

Serbia, Turkey and Georgia do well.

The more pop-star type entries Armenia and Greece do ok.

At the bottom of the heap, France and Spain. The UK won't suffer a nil-pointage, but it will languish in the bottom third.

This I predict.


Now for the most exciting moment...the voting...all 43

The UK This is London calling...
Crap...someone in the UK voted for Spain. Top marks go to Greece.

FYR Macedonia....votes for its neighbours

Ukraine...votes for its neighbours....12 points to Russia, gotta keep those gas pipelines open.

Estonia votes mostly for its neighbours - 10 points to Finland (they're ethnically kin) and 12 points to Russia.

Bosnia & Herzegovnia voted for all their former Balkan foes. The Balkans tend to stick together despite not being able to do so politically. There are a lot of Balkan countries and a lot of Balkan votes.

Albania gave top points to Greece, somewhat surprisingly.

Belgium give top points to Armenia - one of my favorite entries - but what's the relationship between those two countries.

Latvia - douze points to Russia.

Bulgaria gives 12 points to Germany - who had zero before. Why?

Moldova give 12 points to Romania. Quelle surprise.

France are giving all their points in French - not like their song. No votes for the UK from across the channel.

Portugal gives the dreadful Spanish entry 10 points.

Norway doesn't appear to have given Sweden any/many points. That is a bit of a shocker.

Spain gives 12 points to Romania - purely on the strength of migrant workers, I reckon.

Malta gives 12 points to Sweden and nary a point to the UK - I thought surely there would be a vote or two there.

Ireland - woo hoooooo 8 points to the UK and 12 point to the Latvian entry (the Pirates).

At this point, it's looking like no one can beat Russia with 36 out of 43 countries already reported.

Sweden gives Norway 12 points - and the announcer looks drunk. Brilliant.

Will Denmark give the UK any points - the last country to vote? 8 to Sweden, 10 to Norway and 12 points to Iceland...well, that's it.


Russia wins.

Maybe the UK should cut off some natural gas supplies to someone that might keep them off the bottom of the scorecard. The UK entry wasn't brilliant, but it sure beat a whole bunch of other dismal entries.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rip it up and start again

I'm quite excited about the prospect of redoing my garden. Those shrubs and flowers that haven't pulled their weight blossoming weight in past years are facing extinction. The giant tree peony with the surprisingly small blossoms - it barely will be missed.

I want it all done and dusted by the end of Tuesday, but yet I still haven't completely decided what I'm going to do. But it will be heavy on texture and colored foliage.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The second heat

Tonight it's the second semi-final for the Eurovision Song Contest. Another night of great (a-hem) singing live from Belgrade. Tonight UK voters are eligible to phone in their ballot (please make sure you have permission from the bill payer).

As per usual, I will not be voting. I have never phoned in a vote in my life.

The night's proceedings are kicking off with some folk dancers and orchestral musicians in cloud outfits. They're not part of the contest though - just the entertainment laid on by the hosts and I have to say I actually quite like it.

I'll be back when the official acts hit the stage

1. Iceland's entry is by Euroband - described as a tribute band. Hmmm - a tribute to whom exactly. I'd say this tune is perfect for an aerobics class - which puts it above most entries.

2 Sweden - always a strong a contender (back in the day Abba was a Eurovision entry). The chanteuse (the Vol-in-Law asks is that really a woman? I don't think it is.) is dressed entirely in silver tinsel. The song's not bad, not great either.

3. Turkey has had some pretty rockin' entries in the past. They've got a typical guitar band on stage right now, all in black with the barest hint of glam (sequined lapels). They're singing in Turkish which can't be helping them, but I think they might go through to the finals.

4. Ukraine and another tinselly silver dress - her male backing dancers are in a plastic boxes. I like a man in a box. The song is called Shady Lady, the Vol-in-Law says "If I were Eastern European, I think I would steer clear of any references to prostitution." Now the backing dancers are doing backflips across the stage - ho hum.

5. Lithuania - the out-of-tune male singer's only recognisable attribute is his attribute. Let's just say you don't need to guess which side he dresses on thanks to those skin-tight black plastic trousers. This guy couldn't carry a tune in a bucket - and the Michael Bolton hair isn't going to win any fans. He wouldn't make it past the first auditions of American Idol (the final of which I'm missing tonight and wondering if I've made the right choice with the quality of this entry). A cat in heat could do better.

6. Albania's entry is a 16 year old wearing a double breasted jacket with a sewn in cape. She seems very earnest, but frankly it's all a bit dull. I can't even get up good snark on this one.

7. Paolo Menegezzi of Switzerland is singing a well put together pop ballad in Italian Era Stupendo - which think probably means "It was amazing" or something like that. He has the slightly geeky, sensitive look that I quite like in a man. I probably wouldn't kick him out of bed, but I would spend a pound voting for him either. The Vol-in-Law says he'll be hurt a bit by the fact that he can't actually sing, but he thought it would go through.

8. Czech Republic are all be-silvered, too but this time the silver dresses are much, much, much, much smaller. There are five women shaking their stuff and a silvery DJ in the background. The Vol-in-Law says he feels physically sickened. It is truly horrid.

9. Belarus are being booed before they even go on. Is there some kind of bad blood between Serbia and Belarus? The male singer reminds me of a cheesy magician - lyrics like "your laugh has stealed my love" and "don't ask me why I say goodbye, hasta la vista baby, I'm gonna miss you...maybe" The backing dancers are - once again - in tiny metallic dresses, but this time they're golden and splaying themselves across golden magic mushrooms. It's bad, but 10 times better than the Czech offering.


10. Latvia - Pirates of the Sea singing "Wolves of the Sea" - WOW oh WOW - they're all dressed as very glamorous pirates, but it's like a very poor Adam Ant in the Highwayman video. Lyrics like "It's no Peter Pan, so what can you do?" and "We will steal the show, Jolly Rogers go, we are wolves of the sea."

They'll probably go through just for the outfits, though they should be walking the plank.


11 You gotta give Croatia some guts from putting up a 75 year old rapper. I kinda like the song - it's heavy on the accordion (I'm a fool for folk - sue me). Oh my god, granddad is waving a cane. He looks like the old man I saw beat an Underground worker with his crutch one time. His "rapper name" is 75 cents.


12. Bulgaria brings us break dancing and swoosha swoosha record scratching. Let it never be said that Bulgaria is more than two decades behind the times. Oh wait, make that 12 decades - the gal singer is dressed as some kind of Western dance hall madame. They've got DJ decks that are actually ON FIRE. That can't be safe.


13 Denmark - Simon Matthew with "All night long." Cheesy suspenders (braces if you're British) and flat cap. It sounds like one of those songs that's written to be a bar sing-a-long, but fails miserably.

14 You know how Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles despite being blind are musical genii (that's plural for genius, ya know). Yeah, well - being blind is not a gurantee of singing talent. Georgia should remember that the next time they enter a blind singer. Extra points for the albino contortionist backing dancers. Oh - AND the quick change from black outfits to white outfits on stage underneath a gauzey parchute silk covering.

15 Hungary - a bad lounge act. This is reminding me that I could be watching the finals of American Idol.

We're nearly at the end of the 19 entries, but unless the next four are amazing, I don't know how they're going to find ten to go to the finals.

16. Malta - I have soft spot for Malta because they always vote for the British entry no matter how bad or how unpopular British foreign adventures are at the time. The singer is wearing a tight black outfit and boots that were made out of a disco mirror ball. I'm having serious shoe envy. Lyrics like "Vodka and I want it so bad." the tune is genuinely catchy and well performed. I not only want this act to go through, it makes me want to visit the little island. My favorite act of the night.

17. Cyprus - back to the silver dresses a real femme fatale number this time. But unfortunately, she's stripped down to a red and black fringey number. She's singing in Greek and I can hear plinkety accompanient of some kind of stringed greek type instrument. Now she's dancing on a table in the middle of fabric rose - which I guess is suggestive of, well - you know.

18. F.Y.R Macedonia - the femal singer looks like a real woman and I was starting to like it until the nasty FYR Macedonian rappers started doing their FYR crapper. The guy is wearing bermuda shorts and white tights and golf shoes (I swear).

19. It's not over til the fat lady sings and tonight she's singing for Portugal. A lacklustre entry to cap off a lacklustre set of contestants. Still, she can actually sing, which puts her miles ahead of most of tonight's acts.

Meanwhile during the live voting our predictions are...

Portugal, FYR Macedonia, Iceland, Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania, Malta

The Vol-in-Law says he thinks the Ukraine, Latvia and Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden might also go through but that if there's any justice in the world, the Czech Republic will not only be sent home but be beaten with sticks.


And the results:

Ukraine, Croatia, Albania, Iceland, Georgia, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Turkey and Portugal.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Best television in the world

Now normally I don't buy in to the idea that Britain has the "best television in the world" - no matter how many times the BBC spreads that lie.

But tonight, I've gotta admit it must be close.

The awards from the Chelsea Flower Show (live on the main channel) and the live Eurovision song-contest semi-finals which is being broadcast on cable.

So what's a girl (who doesn't understand her live record tv settings) to do?

I do love gardening, but I love to laugh at cheesy Eastern Europeans more. So Eurovision song-contest it is - and I'll be trying to live blog the event. Yikes.

1. Philip Flip-off-ovitch or something like that from Montenegro.

The Vol-in-Law says he's going to lose points for singing in - well, whatever it is they sing in Montenegro. The floppy haired singer is getting slapped in the face by girls wearing 80s mini-skits and red gloves. Buddy seems to like it, but he is only 11 months old.

2. The Israeli Pop Idol (American Idol) winner - something Boaz or other.

Only 20, I think he just got his head shave as a new recruit to the IDF. Dude has some nice arms (must be all those push ups). The song sounds like a call to prayer - and that's not a good thing. I like the Hebrew folk dancing back up guys in the dance. Nothing like a chain step, I always say.

3. Estonia has a joke entry
To me, I think you need to be a serious country before you're eligible to do a joke entry. Still, Estonia has won in recent memory and maybe they didn't want to take the chance of winning again. Several burly guys are singing not very well and girls in sparkly hot pants are dancing around with flags and signs with giant pictures of onions on them. (I know you think I'm making this up - I'm not). The baby doesn't care for accordion break in the middle of the song. It's making Buddy cry.

4. Moldova are doing some kind of jazz fusion-y thing. It's not bad, if you like that kind of thing. And by that I mean over-the-top female vocalists accompanied by a barefoot trumpeter on a sofa. Still they're wearing orange, and you know that's gotta be a good thing.

5. San Marino
Is that a country? I thought it was a village in Italy. Well, I don't know much about it, but apparently they have bad hair there. And the like to do interprative dance in flowy white georgette. Sounds like my kinda town, I mean country. I sorta like the pop rock ballad singing in whatever it is they sing in in San Marino. (Update: San Marino really is a village in Italy according to CIA World Factbook)

6. Belgium is singing in a made up language. Really, I swear. You'd have thought that singing in Belgique or Walloon or whatever they normally sing in would have been close enough to a made up language. The girl singer is wearing a dress that looks like a red and white golf umbrella. There's a floutist on stage. Unless you're Jethro Tull floutists and pop should steer well clear of each other. Buddy doesn't seem to be noticing this one, but he has managed to get into the Vol-in-Law's chocolate biscuits while I've been blithely live blogging. Bad Mommy.

7. Azerbaijan features a high pitched young feller dressed as a bad angel with fluffy wings doing a kind of operatic hollering and another devilish looking chap doing a pop-metal fusion. The Vol-in-Law screams from the other room that Azerbaijan isn't even in Europe, but that they probably will go through. Oh, hell yeah they're going through.

Operatic wailing from azerbaijan

8. Slovenia's entry was also their Miss World entry. Well, there probably are only three presentable people there. It's a pop song whose refrain is apparently "to hell with it" or something like that in Slovenian. It's catchy, I like it. The baby crawled over to the satellite box and changed the channel.

9. Maria from Norway is telling us to hold on and be strong - she should learn to phrase better in her singing. But she looks nice in her slinky blue dress. The baby is crying

i'm live blogging one handed as i'm trying to blog and breastfeed at the same time.

10. Poland is doing a dreary pop ballad - a blonde woman in a turquoise dress and amazingly white teeth.

11. Ireland's entry is a turkey puppet - singing about how it's lost Eurovision for too long. There are vegas style dancers and mexican ballet folklorico looking dancers in the Irish colors. Irelande douze points is the chorus. Eurovision fans will know what that means. Utter rubbish. Nil points from me and apparently there were too many people on stage which may mean it's disqualified, anyway.

12. Gisela from Andorra is wearing a metallic breast plate and some coppery tailfeathers. and something that looks like a bookend on her head. Thoroughly pop and in English "Oh Casanova" I suspect it will do well.

13 Bosnia and Herzogovenia (is that spelled right) have a brother and a sister and a clothes line and four brides on stage (which is one fewer person than the Irish had and all that the rules allow) The gal singer is wearing bloomers, tee-hee!

Bosnia's Eurovision entry
knitting brides in the backgroud

14 Armenia - now this is more like it. I'm partial to a pop song that seems to incorporate some element of the native folk beats. This does it for me. It's the usual cheesy pop lyrics in English and the costume is just a modern version of the fringey flapper dress, but I like it.

15. The Netherlands - Hind - "Your heart belongs to me" I usually like the Dutch entry, but they usually don't do well. Wow, the rather statuesque gal singer is wearing a full length formal dress AND thigh high boots. The song itself has a kinda belly dancing vibe to it, it's upbeat and easy to dance to. I like it.

Slnky dress and thigh highs
Dutch fashion courage

16. Hurray the Finns!! Another metal entry from my cousins to the North. They could put shit on a cracker and I'd vote for it. The Vol-in-Law says "I love Finnish metal." The baby is screaming along "da da da da da" and actually dancing. This probably doesn't bode well for his future development.

Baby likes Finnish rock
Screaming along to Finland's entry

17. Nico and Vlad (yes really) from Romania are singing a nice romantic ballad. Snooze. They're nice looking enough chaps, though. Oh wait, there's a gal singer... I guess Nico's female and she's wearing a long black dress with luminous green plastic waste products attached to the skirt.

18. Russia and Dima Bilan is singing "Believe!" a barefoot pop-boy dressed in white (what is it with all the barefoot performing these days) His eyes are blood shot in a worrying way, drugs no doubt. Oh my god, they have an actual ice skater on the stage - spinning around right next to the barefoot guy - that's a brave performance decision. No wonder he needs the drugs.

Update: ice skating guy was apparently the world champion ice skater.

Russian Eurovision song contest entry
Russian health and safety violations

While I've been watching, baby has crawled from sofa to chair/ chair to sofa, and is now dumping Daddy's magazine's on the floor. Yes, I know it's after 9 pm.

19 Kalomira from Greece is singing "Secret Combination". Like Armenia it's chessy pop with a little greco beat. Also like Albania the chanteuse is wearing some kind of fringey dress. I'm now realising that "secret combination" is some kind of sub-text for sexual access. Ok, not so much sub-text - it's a bit like Britney Spears when she finally left innuendo behind.

Greek pop

Dang, I turned my head and missed the on-stage costume stage. I guess one of those backing dancers figured out her secret combination.

OK, that's it. I hope to be back with the results shortly.


While waiting for the votes to tally, they explained how the voting works this year. Unlike last year, there are TWO semi-finals and no major Western European countries (you know the ones you've heard of) actually made it through. So they've split the voting groups in two, breaking up the traditional geographic loyalties (e.g. the Nordic countries always vote for each other) resulting in very predictable results.

And I'm not clear on this, but at least one country may or may not be selected by jury to ensure there are enough countries from Western Europe.

But this year there are 43 countries participating (many of them not technically in Europe). Thirty-eight have to be winnowed down to 20 through semi-finals - and big countries, with big tv revenue streams (the UK, Germany, France, and Spain) have automatic entries as well as last year's winner - Serbia.

Does that make as much sense a the single transferable vote?


The ten finalists from the first heat of the semi-finals. (In one big envelope you will find ten smaller envelopes - says the hostess - apparently the song contest in Serbia is sponsored by a stationery company).

In no particular order:

1. Greece
2. Romania
3. Bosnia and Herzegovnia (this result is absolutely inexplicable)
4. Finland (hurray the Finns - the Vol-in-Law says that the streets are going wild in Helsinki tonight many people will be having an extra puula)
5 Russia
6 Israel
7 Azerbaijan
8 Armenia - I really liked this one
9 Poland
10 Norway

Saturday, May 17, 2008

No wonder we hate you

Did you know that the Transportation Security Administration has a blog. Well, they do.

It's called Evolution of Security: Terrorists evolve. Threats evolve. Security must stay ahead. You play a part.

And that sounds all very serious and worthy, but hardly what exercises and excites most of the blog's readers.

Like myself, most people are het up about the long lines and the confiscated Swiss Army knives. Our little family alone has lost at least three knives - though in the win column we've managed to get a knife onto one domestic (UK) flight and one international flight (London to Amsterdam). And I have also lost several lighters, including a lovely orange one in Nashville to a snickering TSO who was probably a Vandy fan (and that was following the season of shame).

Yes, the lighters are what really got me mad. For years I carried lighters on planes and through checkpoints without concern. I needed my little incendiary device at the ready so I could smoke again at the very.first.available.opportunity. It was really was vital to public order and security that I be allowed to do so. But suddenly - halfway through my last trip to the US, the lighters started getting taken up. It was a-OK to have the lighter coming in to Vegas - but suddenly they were Al Qaeda's weapon of choice as I was leaving. Trying to hold on to my lighter (I would let them find one and try to stash another - usually a pretty successful strategy) just meant I was clearly in league with the devil.

So, when I discovered the TSA blog - I clicked immediately on the HOT TOPIC nail clippers, lighters and lithium battteries. (What's the deal with lithium batteries??)

Lighters were allowed starting in July 2007, (not including torch lighters) and nail clippers, as well as smaller scissors and tools, have been allowed through the checkpoint since December 2005. Unlike improvised explosives devices (IEDs), these items do not present a significant threat to an airplane.

Yes, that's right. Lighters - AS I HAVE SAID ALL ALONG - "do not present a significant threat to an airplane".

And the comments section on this post is full of people (160 comments and counting) who point out the inconsistencies of the TSA rules. Including this one, which cracked me up:

You still haven't explained why a sharp scissor with 4" long blades is allowed but a 1.5" tiny Swiss Army knife isn't. All I have to do is pop apart the 2 scissor blades and I now have TWO very sharp 6 inch or longer knives with convenient handles. Usually these blades are stronger and sharper than that found on the small S/A knife.

ALL blades of ANY size should be prohibited, including those found on scissors. If the TSA isn't worried about terrorists taking over planes with blades, why aren't Swiss Army knives allowed?

Why are baseball bats or other bludgeons not allowed? Gonna take over a plane by swinging a bat? Not likely (especially since I'll have scissors). Yet, I can bring my heavy camera tripod, pop off the 3 legs and have 3 nice sized bats for me and 2 other friends!

I'm a TSO by the way and even we are sick of all the inconsistencies and looking like fools when we try to explain them to the passengers. No wonder they hate us!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I swore I wouldn't

IMG_2227, originally uploaded by London looks.

One of my biggest pet peeves was seeing children run amok in public gardens. I never minded a bit of youthful exuberance, but I couldn't stand to see kids plucking blossoms or foliage while their parents looked on mutely.

Buddy grabbed these azalea blossoms at the Royal Horticultural Society gardens at Wisley before I could move him out of reach.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Azalea plantation

Regular readers will know that we can often be found in Richmond Park (aka the Deer Park), and as the sun was glimmering weakly through the haze instead of being drowned by a deluge we jumped at the chance to visit Isabella Plantation. Isabella is a walled in area of the park planted with rare trees and ericaceous (acid loving) plants like rhododendron, camellias, magnolias and azaleas.

I really fancied taking Buddy to the grassy area with a picnic and let him crawl around on the grass and play with his little toy football (soccer). Oh, the photos I would take of him against the great, bright blaze of an azalea in full bloom.

But, alas, it was not to be...as Buddy looked like this the entire time we were in the park - all through our picnic even when a full bus load of horticultural tourists surrounded our little picnic to hear about the history of the garden and to glimpse rare rhodies. He slept when the Italian laughed at him when his hat had completely fallen over his face and said "He must be overwhelmed by the beauty all around him."

He snoozed all during our walk to the lake and back up over the hill. And he slept all during the time I was taking floral photos - so I guess I should be grateful for that.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

One good thing about a McCain presidency

There would be one good thing about a McCain presidency. It would, once and for all, establish the right of my son to seek and hold the highest office in the land (the American land, that is). From an article in Washington Post:

The Senate has unanimously declared John McCain a natural-born citizen, eligible to be president of the United States.

That is the good news for the presumptive Republican nominee, who was born nearly 72 years ago in a military hospital in the Panama Canal Zone, then under U.S. jurisdiction. The bad news is that the nonbinding Senate resolution passed Wednesday night is simply an opinion that has little bearing on an arcane constitutional debate that has preoccupied legal scholars for many weeks.

Article II of the Constitution states that "no person except a natural born citizen . . . shall be eligible to the office of president."

Of course, Buddy didn't need a Congressional order to be declared a natural born citizen. We've got a piece of paper from the US Embassy to prove that he's an American boy. But the founders never specified what a natural born citizen really is and it's never come up, so it's never been tested by the courts.

But it will be soon, apparently there are three pending law suits disputing McCain's eligibility.

But Sarah H. Duggin, an associate law professor at Catholic University who has studied the "natural born" issue in detail, said the question is "not so simple." While she said McCain would probably prevail in a determined legal challenge to his eligibility to be president, she added that the matter can be fully resolved only by a constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court decision.

"The Constitution is ambiguous," Duggin said. "The McCain side has some really good arguments, but ultimately there has never been any real resolution of this issue. Congress cannot legislatively change the meaning of the Constitution.

And apparently, McCain's situation is further complicated because his birth isn't recorded in the consular records (as it should have been).

As I've stated before, I'd rather eat a razor blade than vote for McCain, but I really hope he's eligible to run.

Not really in the mood for a photo shoot today

Standing proud
As American as apple pie or baseball

Hat tip: Kleinheider from Post Politics

Boris wins

Boris Johnson won the London mayoral election.


My hatred for Ken Livingstone rivaled my political hatred for Dick Cheney, but being local - was probably more visceral. Livingstone's reign was divisive and expensive. I really believe that London will be better off without him. I can only say one good thing about him - Ken Livingstone genuinely loves London. I do believe it. But it's a love tainted by strange Gramscian political philosophies and a self-loathing hatred of the West demonstrated most strongly by his odd love-in with Islamist extremists. And it's hard to hold those views and do right by a town which, arguably, figures most importantly in the history of Western Civilization. I guess there's one more thing I kinda liked about Ken. I strongly supported Livingstone's anti-pigeon policy, which I hope Boris will continue.

As for the municipal qualities of Mr Johnson, I'm not sure. But I think he's actually going to do a pretty good job. Saying stupid, offensive things never seemed to hurt Ken. The best thing Boris Johnson can do is dismantle the strange gravy train that Ken Livingstone set up to provide succor to his cronies. The second best thing he can do is relatively little - allowing the far more accountable London boroughs to make decisions locally. And he can make a start by allowing councils more control over the main streets and pavements (sidewalks). As it is, Transport for London, has the (largely unused) enforcement powers for the sidewalks along "red routes" (main thoroughfares) and fail to make sure that pathways are clear and clean. This may seem like a trivial concern, but it actually impacts daily on the lives of millions of Londoners.


Almost best of all, Boris Johnson struck a blow for the hair challenged everywhere. And for that, we mussy-headed few thank him. I explained this to an anti-Boris co-worker, who wondered why Boris couldn't be bothered to comb his hair. I even challenged her on her lack of tolerance for the disability of permanent bad hair day - a condition I've suffered from my whole life.

Of course, she probably should have said "Oh come on, your hair's not as bad as Johnson's."

But she didn't.


Political pundits everywhere are blaming Gordon Brown for the dismal results for Labour. His bad policies and his grim demeanor are certainly partly to blame. But I think the link starts to crumble when it comes to London. Ken Livingstone is very much his own man. He's won the mayoralty once as an Independent and once as the Labour candidate - and this campaign was disassociated from Labour as much as it could be - Ken literally returned to the colours he used as an Independent candidate.

And London is not the nation, it's both bigger and smaller than that. It's insulting to Boris Johnson, to Ken Livingstone and most of all to Londoners to assume that this election was driven by national policies. Love or hate for Ken was brewing strong before Gordon Brown ever stepped to the helm.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Crisis, what crisis

Labour suffered landslide losses in the local elections last night. It looks like the Prime Minister is in trouble. Well, it looked like Gordon Brown was in trouble before, but now there's some hard data.

For American readers, many folks in England elected some of their local councillors last night. Not the whole country, just some areas, and in some councils - just some councillors. (I know it's confusing). So you might say that it's not really a referendum on Gordo - but it is. And it is because in this country, local areas are where politicians traditionally have been grown - where a cadre of footsoldiers are what can win and lose you a general election.

And especially, when it looks like Labour may have been pushed into third place (behind the hopeless LibDems) and the Conservatives are winning seats in places where - as a BBC radio presenter put it - I didn't know there were any Tories there.

According to the beeb:

BBC research suggests the party has fallen into third place nationally with 24% of the vote, beaten by the Tories on 44% and Lib Dems on 25%.

So far they are the worst local poll results for Labour in 40 years.

But the party's chief whip Geoff Hoon told the BBC there was "no crisis" for Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the lead-up to the next general election.

Geoff Hoon says "no crisis" - what a loon, that Mr Hoon.

The Mayor of London

No return as yet. Fingers crossed that London follows the national trend.

Thursday, May 01, 2008