Brits Abroad

Yes, this is supposed to be a reflection of how awful we are when we leave our sceptered isle. Yet it’s very difficult indeed not to agree with the basic truth of this:

9. Foreign countries in ‘full of foreign people’ shocker!

“There are too many Spanish people. The receptionist speaks Spanish. The food is Spanish. Too many foreigners.”

— Holiday Complaints (@HolidayComplain) 5 June 2016

Those of us camping out in Portugal are doing so for a very good reason – Spain is indeed full of Spanish people. As the Portuguese themselves are entirely happy to point out. Plenty of Spanish come here for their holidays, very few to no Portuguese go there. Too many Spics, you see?

How very, very, Russian

Russia has banned the widely popular Durex condoms over a bureaucratic issue regarding the products’ registration, according to the country’s health authorities.

“They [Durex condoms] are not registered in the proper manner,” said Mikhail Murashko, the head of the federal healthcare watchdog, according to Russian news agencies. “The company must observe the law.”

Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination

Well, who wouldn’t want to watch a public execution by beheading?

Well, OK, perhaps lots of people actually. But there’s nothing like niche marketing these days, is there? Actually, you could probably (do I mean probably? No, certainly) make a very pretty penny indeed by charging exorbitant sums and guaranteeing that there will indeed be the fun at the mosque, Friday after prayers. 5 day trip to Dubai for the booze and the hookers, Friday arvo’ off in the copter to whichever Saudi town is having one.

Depending on how much the Saudis want to go for this tourist thing you might even get them to schedule for you. Possibly even arrange to up the rate. Well, maybe not that last but I bet ISIS would….

How to read a Russian news story

Authorities in Moscow have threatened to finally outlaw the city’s beloved shawarma kebabs, claiming that the stalls that sell them have repeatedly failed to comply with sanitation standards.

“We are ridding the streets of all shawarma. It’s going to disappear completely,” city official Alexey Nemeryuk told Russian radio station Komsomolskaya Pravda.

The head of the Moscow department of trade and services added that kiosk owners had refused “to bear even the slightest costs of maintaining proper sanitation standards”.

Those slightest costs being a few readies as backhanders to the inspectors. That’s just how the place works.

This just in from Glenn Greenwald’s boyfriend

The story of Brazil’s political crisis, and the rapidly changing global perception of it, begins with its national media. The country’s dominant broadcast and print outlets are owned by a tiny handful of Brazil’s richest families, and are steadfastly conservative. For decades, those media outlets have been used to agitate for the Brazilian rich, ensuring that severe wealth inequality (and the political inequality that results) remains firmly in place.

Indeed, most of today’s largest media outlets – that appear respectable to outsiders – supported the 1964 military coup that ushered in two decades of rightwing dictatorship and further enriched the nation’s oligarchs. This key historical event still casts a shadow over the country’s identity and politics. Those corporations – led by the multiple media arms of the Globo organisation – heralded that coup as a noble blow against a corrupt, democratically elected liberal government. Sound familiar?

Trying to impeach the President over the mass looting of the state oil company, Petrobras, is all something cooked up by the plutocrat owned media.

Well, yes, it’s a view I suppose.

Canadians sure are weird

The Internet was abuzz with praise for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday after clips showing him schooling an reporter on quantum computing went viral.

Trudeau was a maths teacher. What a weird damn society when teachers actually know something about their own subject. It’ll never catch on.

Slightly difficult about Czechia

When citizens of the Czech Republic awake on Friday morning – perhaps from uneasy dreams – they are likely to find that things have changed.

But unlike the bodily transformations undergone by Gregor Samsa, the protagonist in Czech novelist Franz Kafka’s best-known work, they may be about to witness a metamorphosis of national magnitude.

Czech leaders, fed up with their country’s long and complicated full name, have proposed changing it to a single word with just three syllables: Czechia.

In a joint statement, the president, prime minister and other senior officials said they would ask the UN to update its database of geographical names with the new title, in the hope that it might take root before the country competes in the Olympics this summer.

Because inside the country there’s something of a dual meaning. Bohemia and Moravia (and a very small slice of the old Silesia) make up the Czech Republic. And sure, we could say Czechia for the whole. But within the country, at least to the Bohemians, Czechs are Bohemians and Moravians are Moravians. The meaning can slide around a bit: depends a bit upon context.

But I have noted what I thought to be rather amusing, a sign in a wine shop window. “We have Moravian wine” and another one by it “We have Czech wine”. When I asked, well, obviously, Czech means Bohemian and Moravian, Moravian. But, but, Moravia is in Czech! Well, yes and no…..

A thought about Red Indians

Descendants of a bison herd captured and sent to Canada more than a century ago will be relocated to a Montana Native American reservation next month, in what tribal leaders bill as a homecoming for a species emblematic of their traditions.

The shipment of animals from Alberta’s Elk Island National Park to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation follows a 2014 treaty among tribes in the United States and Canada. That agreement aims to restore bison to areas of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains where millions once roamed.

“For thousands of years the Blackfeet lived among the buffalo here. The buffalo sustained our way of life, provided our food, clothing, shelter,” Blackfeet chairman Harry Barnes said. “It became part of our spiritual being. We want to return the buffalo.”

Is that actually true though? This is one of those things that I just don’t know and I have a feeling that going and looking it up would lead to rather a lot of propaganda and not much clarity.

OK, Plains Indians. Definitely there when the Whites started pushing West. There when Lewis and Clark went out 50 odd years earlier. But were they there 300 years before that?

The Plains technology of the time, when the whites got there, depended upon the horse. But the native American horse had been extinct for 10,000 years. Those mustangs and all were descendants of horses that escaped from the Spanish, further South and perhaps also right over on the West Coast. And thus there just weren’t any pre-1500.

Yes, there were very definitely Indians around, settled agricultural communities in the South, fishing and shellfish based ones on the West Coast, farming ones in Nevada, Arizona etc, people all over the East Coast. But out on the plains? Were there really foot based (the largest pack animal was the dog) tribes trying to live off the buffalo out on the plains?

I don’t know and I could imagine it either way. The horse provided the technology to be able to exploit that ecological niche. Or perhaps there really were people doing it on foot. Thing is, does anyone know?

A related question: have there been extensive DNA studies of the different tribes? Do we have a family tree of who split off from whom and when? We are, after all, pretty sure that there was just the one irruption through Alaska (may have been more, but we think only one survived) so it would be rather like that irruption of the Germanic tribes into Europe, sorting themselves out into Lombards, Vandals, Visigoths, Franks, Angles and Saxons and so on. Bit earlier to be sure but……has this ever been done?

Handbags Gentlemen, Handbags

But what we want to know is who won?

They have faced each other in battle many times, but the rivalry between the Royal Navy and French Marine Nationale on Wednesday night erupted in pitched fighting not on the sea, but the rugby field.
A match between the two navies in the southern French city of Toulon was marred by a large punch up which at one time appeared to involve almost all the players on the pitch and several on the touchline.
Video of the fight showed many of the Royal Navy, in grey, and French navy, in blue, trading blows and grappling during the melee in the centre of the field in an annual match nicknamed Le Crunch.

Two props were sent off after the clash, one from each side, and the match continued, but the combat failed to inspire the British side captained by Ben Priddey and the match ended in a heavy 28-6 defeat.
Match officials said last night (Thurs) they were compiling a report into the brawl. Naval sources said it was a yet unclear who threw the first punch, but players could face disciplinary action.
One Naval source said: “It kicked off a bit during the match, but they calmed down and the match was finished. They all went for a drink afterwards and there were no hard feelings.”

Ah, the game of rugby won then.