Probably so

‘Stay alert’ – the government’s new coronavirus slogan falls flat

It could just be that Boris and his Cabinet compadres are too young.

There used to be an ad campaign. For, umm, milk I think? Which had as the tagline “Be Alert – your country needs lerts”.

Or maybe that was graffiti following such a campaign or summat.

Certainly, I recall some such from around, umm, 1973 or 1974?

Straws and milk. And, I think, the Kilroy was here figure.

Update – Ah, yes, as the first comment shows, it’s my memory that’s confused.

Difficult quiz question of the day

So, when was the last time that the Monarch Regnant of the UK (or, to go further back, England) was the grandchild of a couple without a title?

George, in the fullness of time, will become King. One pair of his grandparents are the Middletons. Who may or may not end up with a title but they’ve not got one at the moment and can therefore be called commoners.

So, when was the last time this was true?

Will’s gps were Earl Spencer etc pm the non-Royal side.

Charlie’s Princes etc of Denmark and or Greece?

Brenda’s Earl of Strathmore

George VI Mary of Teck (ie, a princess of the German sort)

George V Danish royal family

Edward VII Dukes of Saxe Coburg

Vicki Saxe Coburgs again

William IV and G IV both Duke Mecklenburg

And so on and on back. When was the last time a pair of grandparents were commoners?

I’m going to run with Edward VI myself (Jane Seymour’s parents were a knight and his wife) unless anyone can show better?

Unkind but

Bauer’s controversial past was revealed in an article in Die Zeit, which uncovered historical research suggesting that Bauer was both a member of the Nazi party and a member of the SA, the Nazis’ pre-war paramilitary wing. Bauer also appeared to be a key part of Goebbels’ Reichsfilmintendanz, a body established by the propaganda ministry in 1942 to control the cinema industry.


The revelation, coming just days before the opening of the 70th festival, is of huge embarrassment to the Berlinale, which has always held Bauer in high regard, naming one of its most important prizes after him in 1986, after Bauer’s death. The prize celebrates filmmakers who open up new perspectives in the art of cinematography.

The thing is, whatever other vilenesses Goebbels and his team committed – a lot of them too – they did open up new perspectives in the art of cinematography. They were masters at the use of it in propaganda for example. Leni and the Olympics is a masterwork, whatever else it is too.

Not that I disagree with the decision here, nor even the discomfort.

So FDR screwed the blacks then

The nasty thing about this is that it’s entirely true:

After the Gilded Age, which led to the Great Depression and essentially collapsed the American economy, our government ushered in a series of New Deal policies that reined in unfettered capitalism and corporate consolidation. However, to a large extent progressives sacrificed the interests of blacks by way of a Faustian bargain that convinced southern legislators to pass New Deal legislation in exchange for not disrupting Jim Crow racial hierarchies. As a result, many of the federal policies adopted in the 1930s and 1940s, which generated the largest growth in our nation’s white-asset based middle class, were racist in both design and implementation.

In the case of labor, the passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, also known as the Wagner Act, guaranteed workers the right to organize and collectively bargain, and provided workers with critical safeguards against corporate exploitation. But this legislation intentionally (by design) excluded agricultural and domestic workers. In the 1930s, nearly half of black men and 90 percent of black women worked in either the agricultural or domestic sector. The same exclusions applied to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which meant that many black sharecroppers and farmers were without protection from continued exploitation by white-male plantation owners in the Jim Crow south.

The New Deal was – at best, at very best – politically bought by screwing the blacks in order to gain the votes of the Democratic Party. At the time largely a Southern and Jim Crow supporting institution.

Fun subject, history, eh?


A comment at The Guardian:

“which reinforce the inherently colonial practice of “colourism” – the discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone.”

It’s not colonial, it’s classist. Dark skin means sun exposure. That is, someone who works for a living outside in the fields. Pale skin means someone rich enough to stay inside. Thus the bits in Jane Austem where the girls worry about their bonnets for they might get freckles.

This also changed, entirely, when work for poor people moved inside and only the rich could afford to get away for a tan. Suddenly, to have a tan – darker skin – became a mark of wealth, not poverty.

A change rather reflected in make up in fact, pre WWII (about, roughly) the aim was to powder or cream the face to be pale, pale, white. Post it much foundation make up is to add colour, not take it away.

This also explains the popularity of sunbeds and fake tans, something which a century ago would have been quite literally unthinkable.

Colourism exists, most certainly, but that flip shows that it’s about class, not colonialism.

For the part about it that the colonialism reason cannot explain is why that flip.

That it’s about class also explains why colourism happens in places that never were colonies – Thailand say.

A good education on the subject would explain this…..

Job offers

We want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, some as spads and perhaps some as officials.

Could be fun for some.

Not sure Cummings has got it entirely right though:

On the frequency and severity of interstate wars, 2019. ‘How can it be possible that the frequency and severity of interstate wars are so consistent with a stationary model, despite the enormous changes and obviously non-stationary dynamics in human population, in the number of recognized states, in commerce, communication, public health, and technology, and even in the modes of war itself? The fact that the absolute number and sizes of wars are plausibly stable in the face of these changes is a profound mystery for which we have no explanation.’ Does this claim stack up?

That’s not a mathematical question. The explanation coming from entirely outside the calculation.

The stationary part is human nature, the lust for power and the susceptibility of the population to demagoguery. All the other things are simply the changing background against which these universals play out.

March 1942

From the London Gazette:

Awarded the George Medal:—
Halstead Middleton Turnbull, M.R.C.S.,
L.R.C.P., Medical Officer, Works First Aid
Post, Birmingham.
Dr. Turnbull has been on duty during
every air raid on Birmingham.
He has shown cool courage and resolution,
without regard for his own safety and, by his
skill and resourcefulness, many lives have
been saved and much suffering alleviated.
When the building in which the First Aid
Post is situated was damaged by bombs, the
Doctor, despite the difficulties, searched for
and treated persons buried under debris.
On numerous occasions he has been called
to treat casualties trapped in wrecked
buildings. In order to administer morphia
to an injured woman, he lowered himself
head downwards into a narrow space regardless of the danger from a wall liable to
When an area was evacuated owing to the
presence of a time-bomb, Dr. Turnbull stayed
with a woman who was seriously ill until
such time as she could be moved with safety.

“Lowered himself” was actually Grandpa having the firemen loop a rope around his ankles and lower him down into the hole they’d dug looking for survivors.

He was a GP. But also a Major, and I’m not sure Major of what. He was too young for WW I. And certainly didn’t serve in WW II in the main Army. Perhaps Home Guard? He’d have been 37 or 38 in 1939. Would a doctor have been made straight up to Major? After all, doctors straight out of college are Captains, right?

Heinz Kiosk is alive and well

Informing Spacely-Trellis as well:

Centuries of Christian anti-Semitism led to the Holocaust, a landmark Church of England report has concluded. In a foreword to the report, published today, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that Christians cannot challenge and reflect on the past honestly, “until we have felt the cruelty of our history”.

The document, which has been three years in the making, was prepared by the Church’s Faith and Order Commission and entitled: God’s Unfailing World: Theological and practical perspectives on Christian-Jewish relations.

It urges Christians to not only be repentant for the “sins of the past” against Jews, but also to challenge active attitudes and stereotypes.

It also marks the first time that the Church of England has made an authoritative statement on the subject of anti-Semitism.

The new “tool for teaching” on Christian-Jewish relations acknowledges that Christian theology played a part in the “stereotyping and persecution fo Jewish people which ultimately led to the Holocaust”.

We are all guilty.

Nothing would make me think better of Heath

Except, perhaps, this:

In the docu about Mrs Thatcher’s rise to power Edward Heath was talking with a snob (Geoffrey Palmer)

Snob: I trust you will stop her, we can’t have a grocer’s daughter leading us; dear God, a grocer’s daughter

Heath: Of course you can trust me, I’m a carpenter’s son

Assuming he was making the point as I think he was. Rather than the possible one, which is that an artisan’s son is better than the daughter of someone in trade.

This is slightly fun

Fun by our high intellectual standards around here that is:

Scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science found that within 300,000 years of the asteroid strike, small shrew-like mammals had increased in size three fold, and by 700,000 had grown to be about the size of a large dog.

The boom in mammals was driven by a surge in new plant life which allowed herbivores to grow much bigger, and experts believe the large sizes achieved were driven by the evolution of legumes which gave a protein boost.

Just been reading an old history of the middle ages. And the insistence is that a large part of the population and economic growth was similarly drive by beans, legumes.

The move from the two fields to three system that is. Instead of just fallow and crop there was now winter, spring crop and fallow. Often enough the spring being a legume, or bean. Which vastly increased the nutrition level of the general populace. Driving that population and economic growth.

Basically, the argument is a repeat of the stunting one used today about particularly direly poor places.

Same book has a shock for our farmer readers. Seed corn to harvest was thought to be perhaps one to 2.5. One bushel of seed gave 2.5 at harvest. The iron – therefore deeper working – ploughs of the early middle ages raised that to 4. A grand victory.

We’ve discussed this before and as I recall it the modern answer is “I don’t know how many grains I get from one seed because it’s so many we don’t think of it that way”.

But we do know what the average tonnage crop per acre is. What’s the average weight of seed corn needed to get it?


As I and others have argued before, one reason that British people feel complacent about Britain’s role in pioneering slavery, and the racism that underpinned it, is that it happened slightly farther away. The Caribbean is Britain’s own Deep South, where enslavement and segregation as brutal as anything that existed on American soil took place at the hands of British people.

The islands were worse than the US. We can even prove this. The survival rate for slaves was higher in the US. As was the birth rate, as also the child survival rate.

Yes, I do know this “natural increase” was an argument used by Jefferson Davis among others. Still true though. The sugar islands were vastly worse for slaves than mainland USA.

It’s true that the country’s treatment of people descended from this history could not be more shameful. From the institutionalised racism they experienced fighting for Britain in both world wars, to the attempts to deport members of the Windrush generation just last year, they have endured the worst of what Britain has had to offer.

But this campaign is not requesting a favour for a marginal section of society. The history of how we came to be this nation is a history for us all. If we can’t dignify it with a simple memorial, one whose location, design, importance and even planning permission have already been established, then we really have lost the plot.

• Afua Hirsch is a Guardian columnist

Afua is also, apparently, descended from an Akan mother.

Akan states waged wars on neighboring states in their geographic area to capture people and sell them as slaves to Europeans

A little less of the whitey is responsible for everything perhaps?

Our colonialist universities

In a section of the NUS manifesto titled “decolonising our education”, it says: “Our educational structures and institutions are a product of colonialism:

OK. And?

By the definitions being used everything current is a result of past colonialism. So?

Or, of course…..

But gambling with dice was common in Rome, two millennia ago. There’s something strange about most Roman dice. At first sight they look like cubes, but nine tenths of them have rectangular faces, not square ones. They lack the symmetry of a genuine cube, so some numbers would have turned up more frequently than others.

Even a slight bias of this kind can have a big effect in a long series of bets, which is how dice games are normally played. Only in the middle of the 15th century did it become standard to use symmetric cubes. So why didn’t Roman gamblers object when they were asked to play with biased dice? Jelmer Eerkens, a Dutch archaeologist who has made a study of dice, wondered whether a belief in fate, rather than physics, might be the explanation. If you thought your destiny was in the hands of the gods, then you’d win when they wanted you to win and lose when they didn’t. The shape of the dice would be irrelevant.

The odds adapted to the different probabilities…..

Oh Lordy, another piece of bollocks

Yet more nonsense about slavery and the Confederacy:

Black Confederates: exploding America’s most persistent myth

Set up a straw man, fail even to burn that down, then proclaim the New History.

“For many people, that is evidence of black Confederate soldiers,” Kevin Levin told an audience at the National Archives in Washington last month. “But it’s not. In fact, no one was confused during the dedication that this was in fact a body servant.”

In other words, an enslaved man.

The American civil war has never been in short supply of myths, but Levin describes black Confederates as the “most persistent”. Hundreds of articles, organisations and websites rewrite history by asserting that between 500 and 100,000 free and enslaved African Americans volunteered as soldiers in an army fighting to preserve slavery.

Just because it is counterintuitive does not make it true. In the wake of Donald Trump’s election and the white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a statue of the Confederate general Robert E Lee still stands, the issue resonates beyond the halls of academia.

Levin, a historian, educator and author of the blog civil war memory, has been writing on the subject since 2008.

The straw man – that there were black confederate soldiers shows that the South was right.

The supposed disproof – there were slaves that whities brought along to take care of them in camp.

The disproof has the obvious merit of being correct, in that there were camp slaves.

But that there were camp slaves does not mean there were no black volunteers who fought for the Confederacy. It’s not a disproof that is.

The matter wasn’t so, err, black and white. Not all blacks in the South were slaves. Rather more importantly, not all slave owners in the South were white. There were indeed black slave owners. Actually, the first person to actually own a full on chattel slave in the US was black.

That slaves fought for slavery may or may not be true. That some blacks fought for the Confederacy – voluntarily – is true. Just as it’s also true that some blacks owned black slaves.

Strange but true

Poland revived its demand for war reparations from Germany yesterday as the two states observed the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw uprising, in which at least 15,000 resistance fighters and 150,000 civilians were killed for daring to stand up against Hitler.

Polish MPs claim that the unpaid bill for the slaughter and destruction inflicted on their country could amount to as much as €1 trillion. The question cast a pall over the commemoration of the fiercest rebellion against Nazi rule anywhere in Europe, which culminated in the razing of Poland’s capital after two months of ferocious fighting.

A Jew in Germany in 1933 had a better chance of surviving to 1945 than a Pole in Warsaw.

Slightly a trick number of course, for the early year Nazis positively encouraged Jewish emigration. But still a surprising fact.

So they don’t like it then

Insurgent Empire by Priyamvada Gopal review – a superb study of anticolonial resistance
An important new history of opposition to the British empire, at home and overseas, from the Chartists and the Indian rebels to the Mau Mau uprising

That’s the subs, bigging up in the headline a book by a columnist. The actual review says this:

charted by Priyamvada Gopal’s arresting and insightful book.

Code for, well, she’s done the work, sure, but it’s not very interesting.

When did this happen?

The Indian Rebellion of 1857

The change from the Indian Mutiny?

Presumably it’s about the implications of each word. Rebellion could be just and righteous. A mutiny is against the righteous order. But when did the woke change the phrase?

This isn’t antisemitic

….has claimed that four million Jews, not six million, died in the Holocaust.

Leave everything else aside, how have we ended up with people seriously claiming that that’s an antisemitic comment? Sure, it’s wrong and it’s about Jews but that’s not enough to qualify….