The great Brexit cut-and-paste job

Parts of the Brexit deal have been so deeply thought out that they cover technology no one uses anymore.  On page 921 (of course you’ll want to look it up) it talks about “modern e-mail software packages” like Netscape Communicator. Netscape went belly up in 2003, leaving its Communicator in the back of the refrigerator. It’s grown an enthusiastic covering of green mold in the intervening years.

Another section of the agreement recommends encryption systems that are older than I am and even more open to cyber attacks.

Educated guesses attribute it to negotiators using the cut and paste feature when they ran short of time.

I feel better now about not having absorbed the contents of the deal.

And now that I’ve justified my headline, on to other news.


Irrelevant photo: This is a very strange geranium that only flowers after three years. Then it spreads seeds all over the place and you wonder if growing it was a good idea. 

Other news from Britain

London has drafted in its police horses to help create a wildflower garden. Not for their manure, but to trample in last autumn’s seeds. The horses walk around the garden for half an hour a day and their riders get to write it up as community engagement.

Grazing animals—not just horses but sheep and goats—create dips and furrows in the ground as they walk around, pushing seeds into the soil and creating microhabitats, which seems to be an impressive word for a hoofprint.

London’s short on sheep and goats, but it does have horses.

Every article on this that I found used “Call the cavalry!” in its headline, right down to the exclamation point. I expect they’re all dutifully reprinting someone’s press release. Not me. I don’t reprint press releases. I steal my news second hand, with pride.


Nottingham knows how to honor its heroes.

Most years, Nottingham tram drivers get a £25 voucher as a Christmas bonus. This year, since the drivers worked throughout the pandemic in direct contact with an infectious public, what did Nottingham Express Transit do? It gave them a voucher for a free baked potato or a roll from a food van that parks outside the depot. 

It had already thanked the staff, it explained, and anything more would be inappropriate. Those thank yous don’t come cheap, you know.


News from the U.S.

Something called the Air Company has figured out how to make vodka from carbon dioxide and water. That means each bottle takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and puts it first into the bottle and second into your very own self. This in turn means that if you dedicate yourself to it you can drink us all out of global warming by drinking 11 quadrillion martinis.

By way of full disclosure, 11 quadrillion martinis would make “a significant impact” on global warming but it’s not a complete solution. On the other hand, you won’t be in any shape to notice fine distinctions at that point, so let’s not worry about it.

So far, the Air Company’s capturing carbon dioxide from standard fuel alcohol fermentation, but it has its eye on power stations. Capture carbon dioxide there and you’ve got yourself a good headstart on those martinis.

It also has its eye on creating alcohol products other than vodka: ethanol, methanol, and propanol. From there (apparently—it’s not like I know anything about this) you can get to plastics, resins, fragrances, cleaners, sanitizers, and bio jet fuel.

They’re based in Brooklyn, which is not in Britain, but we all know I cheat. If I wedge one or two items about Britain into these roundups, I’ll call that good enough and hit Post.

News from other places

In November, a metal monolith was found in the Utah desert. Then a metal monolith disappeared from the Utah desert. Then a metal monolith appeared in Romania and a metal monolith disappeared from Romania..

Then some wiseacre pointed out that these weren’t monoliths, since they had several pieces and the root of monolith is mono, meaning one, but no one paid attention, so when a mysterious metal object appeared in Southern California, headline writers were still calling it a monolith. It sounds better than metal object or thing.

And again, when one appeared on the Isle of Wight, it was still being called a monolith, and ditto the ones in Belgium, Spain, Colombia, and Germany, along with a second one in Britain, on the new-agey Glastonbury Tor. 

It said, “Not Banksy.” Not literally. Someone had written that on it. Monoliths don’t speak. Even the ones made of many parts–you know, the multiliths.

Around Christmas, a gingerbread monolith appeared in a San Francisco park, and considering that it’s made of gingerbread, it’s huge–7 feet tall, held together with icing, and decorated with gumdrops. 

The park board has said it will stay up “until the cookie crumbles.” Which it did a few days later. 

What’s being called an anonymous collective called The Most Famous Artist claimed credit for the Utah and California metal monoliths. That doesn’t include the gingerbread one. 

The does it mean to be an anonymous collective? It has a name, it’s been made public, and  as a general rule having your name known conflicts with being anonymous. 

Or so I thought, but what do I know? I’m just some old bat sitting on her couch and typing.

Go to the collective’s anonymous website (it’s on the anonymous branch of the internet) and you’ll find pictures of people, which is also a bad idea if you’re anonymous. And a name, Matty Mo, who’s “building a community and working with brands.” Not to mention selling his work. 

Whether there really is a collective, or a community, is anyone’s guess, but either he or the collective is or are also selling replicas of the monolith for $45,000. Or at least offering them for sale. I can’t swear that anyone’s buying.

A British paper asked Matty Mo (assuming it was him) about the Isle of Wight monolith and he said, “The monolith is out of my control at this point. Godspeed to all the aliens working hard around the globe to propagate the myth.” 

28 thoughts on “The great Brexit cut-and-paste job

  1. I once worked somewhere where we got a £50 M&S voucher as a Christmas bonus. One year, we received an e-mail in early December, saying that the vouchers were being stopped. Just like that. The firm probably lost far more than it saved, because everyone was so fed up that very little work was done for the rest of the week!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I read your entire blog post with interest but my mind was fixated on that baked potato for tram drivers. That really stuck in my craw. I actually think it would have been less insulting to offer nothing in the way of a bonus or gratitude whatsoever. Telling someone who has risker their health during a pandemic that their worth has been measured as the equivalent to a filled baked potato is a complete slap in the face. As someone designated as an essential worker during this pandemic, I reacted very viscerally to that detail in your blog post. I actually feel something akin to rage about it.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Reading your comment, I had a picture of all sorts of baked potatoes and sandwiches mysteriously being left in the office, but I don’t suppose it would be the right office–the decision makers aren’t likely to be on site and they sure as hell aren’t the ones who’d have to clean up.

      Anyway, rage understood. And seconded.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Does the Brexit deal cover hoofprints?

    I read that we may run short of carbon dioxide because it’s the ingredient in dry ice. Dry ice is in short supply (due to less gasoline consumption – most Co2 comes from the production of ethanol, most of which is used in gasoline production) AND in high demand by meal-in-a-box grocery shippers, and we need more (dry ice) for the vaccines, but there isn’t enough CO2 to make it. In case that wasn’t interesting, I hope I get credit for a long and boring sentence. I could have used about three periods, but those, too, are in short supply.

    Maybe Matty Mo meant to be a unanimous collective. Lots of people mix up those two word.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe Matty Mo meant to be a monolithic collective. That contradicts itself so thoroughly that you could stall out over it for years.

      With apologies, that was interesting about the dry ice, so credit for a long and interesting sentence. I wondered where it was all going to. (The dry ice, that is.) So now I know. The vaccine roll-out in this country is turning out to be as fucked up as everything else the government touches (no surprise there; never put people with contempt for experts in positions of power), and dry ice shortages are the least of it. The shortage of periods, however, hasn’t hit Britain yet. They’re produced here, and what with Brexit and all we haven’t been able to export them–the shipments are held up by paperwork and red tape. If you have a fax number, I can send you pages full on the black market.

      Yes, small black marks on the black market.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Ellen,
    I don’t know if you remember me from long ago in Minnesota. I think it was the Loft Mentor program. I wanted to connect and tell you how much I enjoy your missives.
    Mary Kay Rummel

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The Pict from PA pretty much covered my sentiments, having worked (including as a teacher) for many cheap-ass SOB’s…
    The monoliths, though – it makes all clear what was going on in “2001 : A Space Odyssey.” Except apparently there were no chimps bouncing around this time.

    Liked by 1 person

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