Tee Hee, oh tee hee indeed

A cyberprankster broke into the Web site of Iran\’s hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, yesterday and created a page that offered a prayer for his death.

\”Dear God, in 2009 you took my favorite singer — Michael Jackson, my favorite actress — Farrah Fawcett, my favorite actor — Patrick Swayze, my favorite voice — Neda,\” it read.

\”Please, please, don\’t forget my favorite politician, Ahmadinejad, and my favorite dictator, Khamenei, in the year 2010. Thank you.\”

Christmas the American Way

Boy, do they live it up over there.

On Google Trends, the rankings of what people are searching for, you\’ve got:

Is Dunkin\’ Donuts open on Christmas.

I\’ve done some pretty strange things on the day down the years but never thought of a donut shop as quite capturing the spirit.

Oh my, what a surprise

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez yesterday ordered the country’s military to prepare for a possible armed conflict with Colombia, saying soldiers should be ready if the United States attempts to provoke a war between the South American neighbours.

Mr Chavez said Venezuela could end up going to war with Colombia as tensions between them rise, and he warned that if a conflict broke out “it could extend throughout the whole continent”.

Gosh, socialist strongman loses popularity, decides upon a war to boost support.

A real surprise that, isn\’t it?


The de facto authorities have the support of many middle class and conservative Hondurans as well as the supreme court, congress and military.

I do rather love this insistence that all the lefties have of calling the Honduran government the \”de facto\” government.

If you\’ve got both the Congress and the Supreme Court on your side then it\’s pretty much a given that  you\’re the de jure government, not merely the de facto.

Especially since Zelaya was deposed entirely legally under the Honduran Constitution (even if his expulsion from the country was less than legal).

Doesn\’t he ever think?

One Murphy R asks this question:

Might it be small really is beautiful?

It\’s in relation to this:

Mr Jonsson has already become embroiled in controversy after it emerged that KPMG Iceland had been responsible for investigating events leading up to the collapse of Glitnir, despite the fact that his son was chief executive of the bank’s largest shareholder. KPMG later resigned from the case.


It has emerged that the son of Iceland’s Attorney General is one of two CEOs at Exista, which was one of the major stakeholders in Kaupthing Bank. And all cases sent from Iceland’s special banking collapse investigation committee for prosecution have to go through the Attorney General.

Well, actually, no, in this case it isn\’t true that small is beautiful. Quite the opposite in fact, small is exactly the problem. Iceland\’s population is slightly larger than that of Kingston upon Hull. In a population of a little over 300,000, with a workforce of what, perhaps 100,00o, perhaps 150,000 adults, just about everyone is going to be someone\’s brother in law, cousin or relative of some sort, aren\’t they*?

So, no, if you want to avoid perceived conflicts of interest, small isn\’t beautiful, no, small is the problem.

Doesn\’t the man ever think?

*Hyperbole, yes, but the point stands.

Good luck with this then

The grandson of Joseph Stalin has launched a libel suit against one of Russia\’s leading liberal newspapers, accusing it of lying in an article which stated the wartime leader had killed Soviet citizens.

Sad thing is, with the current system in Russia he might even win the case.

The joys of peasant life

Yes, community there is indeed.

It means scraping a living from the animals you keep and the patches of vegetables you\’ve always grown. It means cabbage soup or beans and potatoes smothered in olive oil, plus chorizo made from every last bit of the pig you slaughtered yourself, washed down with the light red wine made in the shed at the back.

There\’s also horrible poverty. You see, the down side of the peasant lifestyle is that people have to live like, well, peasants.

That military coup in Honduras

•?The Supreme Court, by a 15-0 vote, found that Mr. Zelaya had acted illegally by proceeding with an unconstitutional “referendum,” and it ordered the Armed Forces to arrest him. The military executed the arrest order of the Supreme Court because it was the appropriate agency to do so under Honduran law.

•?Eight of the 15 votes on the Supreme Court were cast by members of Mr. Zelaya’s own Liberal Party. Strange that the pro-Zelaya propagandists who talk about the rule of law forget to mention the unanimous Supreme Court decision with a majority from Mr. Zelaya’s own party. Thus, Mr. Zelaya’s arrest was at the instigation of Honduran’s constitutional and civilian authorities—not the military.

•?The Honduran Congress voted overwhelmingly in support of removing Mr. Zelaya. The vote included a majority of members of Mr. Zelaya’s Liberal Party.

•?Independent government and religious leaders and institutions—including the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Administrative Law Tribunal, the independent Human Rights Ombudsman, four-out-of-five political parties, the two major presidential candidates of the Liberal and National Parties, and Honduras’s Catholic Cardinal—all agreed that Mr. Zelaya had acted illegally.

•?The constitution expressly states in Article 239 that any president who seeks to amend the constitution and extend his term is automatically disqualified and is no longer president. There is no express provision for an impeachment process in the Honduran constitution. But the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision affirmed that Mr. Zelaya was attempting to extend his term with his illegal referendum. Thus, at the time of his arrest he was no longer—as a matter of law, as far as the Supreme Court was concerned—president of Honduras.


•?I succeeded Mr. Zelaya under the Honduran constitution’s order of succession (our vice president had resigned before all of this began so that he could run for president). This is and has always been an entirely civilian government. The military was ordered by an entirely civilian Supreme Court to arrest Mr. Zelaya. His removal was ordered by an entirely civilian and elected Congress. To suggest that Mr. Zelaya was ousted by means of a military coup is demonstrably false.

Have to say that it sounds remarkably unlike a military coup actually.


Foreign criminals have been awarded compensation of £500,000 for being kept in custody beyond their release date.

The prisoners were held while the Government considered whether to deport them.

Under our system you can\’t be held in gaol without a court having approved a reason for you being there.  You\’ve been sentenced, you\’re on remand, a judge or a magistrate has to sign off on your being there.

We do not have a system (unlike many other places) where you rot in gaol while a bureaucrat tries to make up their mind. Yes, this applies to Johnny Foreigner as it does to us indigenes. As it rightly should.

Only one change I would make to this though: the money should come from those bureaucrats who made the error in the first place.

Russians do have a way with names

As some will know, I spent some years working in Russia. One of the things I noted was that the way they named a company was pretty straightforward. If you were the Nabrezny Chelny Ferroconcrete Plant (to use a completely made up name, it\’s actually Kamaz in that town) then as like as not your company name would be \”Nabrezny Chelny Ferroconcrete Plant\” or a contraction of it.

Atomenergoexport for example was the company that dealt with the export of atomic energy equipment.

Simple enough but this can cause minor problems when no one properly thinks through what the contraction is going to look like in other languages.

For example, If Gazprom were to sign a deal to extract gas in Nigeria one might get Niprom. Or Gazeria. Or, as was actually chosen:

Russia\’s energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria\’s state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.*

You know gentlemen? I think you might want to change that, preferably before you get the letterheads printed. Only advice mind, something offered to you for free.

To check just grab any random American who happens to be hanging around your offices.

On the other hand, this might be the very bestest company name since Wang Computers decided to use the same name it did in the US  for the UK market for its service arm.

\”Wang Cares\”

* Thanks to Mark Tinker for the tip off.

The Anti-Gallican League

Reading a book this afternoon I find that there used to be something called the "Anti-Gallican League".

Dedicated to such absurd ideas as keeping French products, French dancing masters, French garlic and French "frickasees" (as well as, one assumes, French diseases) out of a proper plain beef eating nation such as that personified by John Bull.

As a result of reading the book I of course came home and cooked roast beef…although I might have been Frenchified (or, to be honest, been influenced by wanting to live a little longer) by tipping away some of the lard…not all I hasten to add, retaining enough for a proper gravy….and using some garlic to flavour said beef.

However. This "Anti- Gallican League". Does it still exist? Might I become a member? Or did it die soon after birth, back in the 17 (mumble mumble decade of choice) s?

Anyone know?





Live out the credit crunch in Portugal

He\’s quite right about this:

While there were never enough hours in my days in London, here in rural Portugal the time passes languorously. Once or twice a week we\’ll make the trek to the village of São Brás de Alportel but, for the most part, we relish the solitude: planting tomatoes and peppers, trekking down to the valley to draw water from the well, reading and doing chores around the house. When we arrived a few weeks ago we were dismayed at the lack of internet up here but the absence of it has given us a greater excuse to cut ourselves off, for a while, from the bustling world beyond. News from the outside world trickles slowly up into these hills.

Cheap place to live (his 400 euro a month rent sounds about right), good weather, can be "sossegado" etc.

Calling SB de Alportel "rural" isn\’t quite right really. It\’s a turn off on hte road from Faro to the airport…..but then one of the things about the Algarve is that, once you get 5 minutes away from the concrete coast you can indeed find ruralish villages. I\’m just not all that sure that being a 10 minute drive from an international airport really qualifies as "rural".

However, there is one thing I\’d really like to note. Living down there on Portuguese wages (500 a month) ain\’t nearly so much fun as living down there on English ones. The sort that might be made by a freelance writer writing a piece for the Guardian about how cheap it is to live in the Algarve for example.

People are weird

Appeals delayed the execution of his sentence, but the verdict was affirmed, and Neu mounted the scaffold on February 1, 1935. Before the trap was sprung, he treated witnesses to a spirited rendition of an original song composed especially for the occasion. Its title: "I\’m Fit as a Fiddle and Ready to Hang."