Author Archives: Nosemonkey

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel will today launch his country’s EU presidency which, after Blair’s pisspoor efforts over the last six months, can only be a relief to all concerned – even though Austria is the only member state to be more EU-sceptic than Britain.

And so as the Austrian presidency opens, we’re back to square one, with new EU President Schuessel announcing his intention – just as did our own dear Tony Blair six months ago – to “restart the negotiations on the constitution.
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The first part of a new weekly feature, coming to you each and every Monday Tuesday Wednesday (probably). Whether the idea is going to work or not I have no idea – but am always open to suggestions for improvements.

The aim? To explore the land of blogs and their near brethren, six at a time, opening up new areas of this here interwebnet for your delectation. Starting from my own place and taking the blog most removed in subject matter from my own on my blogroll, I intend to follow links and see just how far I can travel around blogland from Anglo-European politics, hopefully discovering all kinds of interesting new places along the way.

The only criterion? Other than the very first entry, these must all be sites about which I was previously unaware before starting this online journey. It is, if you like, the internet equivalent of sticking a pin in a world map to decide on your holiday destination. A kind of cyber travel writing. A kind of blog roundup/carnival, but with no overarching theme and where those featured would by definition have discounted themselves had they tried to ask to be included.

Today, from European politics (my place) to Japanese paper lanterns – by way of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, epistemological psychology, catblogging and Edward Lear…
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I had my supicions, then noticed a bit more. Earlier today I
dug up a few more leads
. Then it came from the horse’s mouth. Charles Clarke’s speech to the European Parliament from this morning. The key quote:

“we argue that internationally consistent and coherent biometric data should be an automatic part of our visas, passports and identity cards where we have them – and would even suggest driving licences as well”

The government knows it can’t get this legislation through by conventional means. So they’re going to force it on us using the EU. In one swoop they bypass parliament, Gordon Brown’s financial objections, and can pass all blame onto Brussels when people start complaining.

Enter mode: rant. Read More

I signed the pledge to blog about Uzbekistan set up by the Disillusioned Kid in response to comments by former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray on this, Uzbek Independence Day. I freely admit to – before beginning this post – knowing little or nothing about the country or the region. Not many people do, let’s face it – and that’s the whole point of this exercise – to raise awareness. (Other posts are being compiled by the Disillusioned Kid here.)

It’s one of those places ending in “stan” which everyone always gets confused and no one can find on a map. It doesn’t even help much if you say it shares borders with Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, because most people will only really know anything about one of those. It may be helpful to have a quick overview of them all. Unsurprisingly, all are more or less fucked up:
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Well, dur… Trying to destroy the country and its people would, in most people’s books, count as treason, I’d imagine. But then again, it’s a fairly tricky crime these days.

Until 1998, the penalty for treason was death. Under the Treason Act of 1351, anyone who “do violate the king’s companion, or the king’s eldest daughter unmarried, or the wife of the king’s eldest son” is committing treason. So James Hewitt and Will Carling, plus whoever else got lucky with her, should have been burned at the stake (the required punishment) for shagging Princess Di.
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At the dispatch box Michael Howard rises and says to Tony Blair, “Would the Rt. Hon. gentleman agree that the latest MRSA figures are a disaster and a shocking indictment of his government’s failed NHS strategy?”. Blair gets up to respond, but instead turns round to his backbenchers and says “Did you hear that? He said he’s got poopy pants! ha ha ha! Poopy-pants Howard!” The Labour backbenches roar with laughter, applaud, cheer, and then shout down Howard every time he tries to say anything with chants of “poopy-pants” until he gets so fed up he leaves the chamber in disgust.

Welcome to the blogosphere.
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So, the thinking runs, a mate of yours has fallen on hard times, but still wants to be a member of your local club. Only trouble is they can’t quite afford the membership fees, and as they don’t smoke they don’t have the benefit of the club’s free cigars. So you and the other members chip in and give them part of the membership fee back as an act of good faith and to reimburse them for their lack of cigars. After a few years, your mate seems to be doing pretty well – spanking new suit, charging off all round the world, flashing the cash about with big charity donations. But you and the other club members are still giving him money, even though he’s now richer than pretty much all of you. You’d feel pissed off, wouldn’t you?
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Can’t really argue with that. This is the problem with this bloody constitution – there’s no vision behind it. There’s nothing to inspire interest, enthusiasm or loyalty – even among the faithful. For a project as ambtitious as the breaking down of barriers between the disparate, once war-ridden nations of an ancient continent, you’d think they’d have at least tried to have given it a shot or two of pizzazz.

The trouble with this “constitution” (even the eurosceptic Scotsman accepts that it’s really little more than “a 500-page pull-together of all previous EU Treaties”) is, as I’ve said elsewhere before, that it’s looking to sort out the present and the clutter of the past, not the future.
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