All the news you don’t need to know

Patriotism has run away with us in ever-so-great Britain: Paul Scully, a minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, went on TV to promote offshore windfarms and bragged that a government program would create British jobs, using British manufacturing “and of course British wind.”

The plan at the moment is to surround windfarms with barbed wire and make sure foreign winds are kept out, but the plans could change if the political winds shift. The possibility of putting electric fans on the leeward side hasn’t been ruled out. 

Irrelevant photo: A Cornish stone wall. The plant is wall pennywort.

 

More political stuff

After Meghan Markle and Harry Whatsisname accused Britain’s tabloid press of being racist, Ian Murray, the executive director of Britain’s Society of Editors, responded by asking himself, “Are you a racist?” answering, “Don’t be silly,” and then issuing a statement saying that racism was never a factor in how the press treated Markle. M & H’s “attack,” he said, was “not acceptable.”

All hell broke loose, a great deal of huffing a puffing followed, and Murray has now resigned.

A particularly British way of thinking about racism is for a person (the person in question, in my experience, being white) to consult their intent and declare themselves free of it. Their impact on other people or the world in general doesn’t come into it and neither does anything that other people might contribute to the discussion. If they declare their intent to be pure, they are pure. 

 

The sciencey stuff they don’t want us to know

And now we come to the shocking revelation that on the equinox, which most of us were trusting enough to think is the moment when day and night are equal in length, day and not are not equal in length.

Yes, folks, deep forces are at work here and they do not have our best interests at heart. 

I’ll quote an explanation of what the equinox really is: “On a winter day, the Sun is low in the sky, whereas on a summer’s day the Sun lies considerably higher. But on a specific day in the spring or autumn, the Sun will be visible directly above the equator, somewhere in the middle of the two arcs traced by the Sun in the summer and winter.”

You mean all those people on the equator only get to see the sun twice a year? 

Um, probably not. It means–

Well, it means something else, okay? 

The unevenness of day and night has to do in part with sunrise being measured from the moment when the rim of the sun appears on the horizon and sundown being measured from the time that same rim disappears. That leaves a bit of time sloshing around when the rest of the sun is following the rim.

Did you follow that? Maybe it would be better if we skip over the sciencey stuff. All we need to know is that deep forces are at work and that we’ve been lied to. Don’t trust the forces of nature. Stay alert. Keep a clock by you at all times. Trust no one. And if you want an actual explanation, follow the link

 

The animal stuff

This is the year of cats and lawyers. 

Barrister Naz Hussain’s cat Colombo broke into a Zoom hearing in January. He had his eye on the headphone cable but then strolled across the keyboard until he was in range of the camera.

“The judge jokingly asked if he was my instructing solicitor,” Hussein said, “to which I said: ‘No, it’s my replacement junior.’ “

That is British legalspeak. Don’t worry about what it means. Just bask in how arcane and British it sounds and pretend you’re watching one of those law shows where half the actors have lambs curled up on their heads.

“Everyone laughed,” Hussain said, “and, sensing stardom, Columbo just kept coming back.”

I don’t know if the defendant was included in everyone, but he may have been because he was found innocent.  

Colombo now has his own Twitter account. And Hussain–having been repeatedly mistaken for a defendant and asked by other lawyers if he’s really a QC–has taken advantage of the moment when people are listening to him to say some serious things about diversity in the legal profession.

A QC? That’s a particularly high-powered breed of lawyer. They’re so important they’d wear two lambs on their heads if there was room.

*

Somewhat less impressively, a sheriff’s deputy in Georgia got out of her patrol car to serve papers on someone, leaving the door open, and a goat jumped in. She–that’s the deputy, not the goat–recorded the whole thing on her head cam, which also recorded her saying, as she knocked on the door, “I hope that goat don’t get in my car.”

Be careful what you say around a goat. They’re very bright and highly suggestible. 

Leaving the car door open is standard practice, at least for her. If she has to get away from a bad-tempered dog, she wants the escape to be seamless. 

While it was in the car, the goat munched on her papers and spilled her drink. And when the deputy got to be enough of an annoyance, it head-butted her to the ground. 

She’ll never hear the end of it.

To the best of my knowledge, the goat hasn’t set up a Twitter account.

Yet.

 

The high-tech stuff

Gucci’s selling sneakers for $17.99, but since the brand’s shoes can sell for as much as $500, there’s a catch: They’re virtual sneakers. You can buy them for your imaginary self to wear in online games, which if I was even remotely with it I’d call virtual reality but I can’t be bothered to pretend. You can’t put them on real feet because they don’t actually exist. So if you buy a pair you just spent $17.99 on something imaginary.

The Guardian describes one of them as “a chunky slime green, bubble-gum pink and sky blue shoe that wouldn’t look out of place in a robot’s orthotics clinic.” I’m going to assume that the other one matches.  

Who could resist?

The Brexit update, this time with spider brooches

Britain’s supreme court ruled unanimously on Tuesday (the day I’m posting this) that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament (called, in case it shows up in a crossword puzzle, a prorogation) was illegal, and before the pixels of the online news stories were dry the speaker of parliament had announced that parliament would be back in session on Wednesday.

But even before that happened, some members of parliament were already sitting on the House of Commons green seats, just to make a point. 

As the BBC put it, the court ruling said the serving prime minister broke the law and gave unlawful advice to the queen.

Short of the inscrutable Lady Hale [president of the court], with the giant diamond spider on her lapel, declaring Boris Johnson to be Pinocchio, this judgement is just about as bad for the government as it gets.”

Okay, we’d better take a minute to talk about the spider. It’s a brooch–or in Ameri-speak, a pin–and within hours had been printed on a tee shirt that was being sold online, with some of the profits promised to an organization for the homeless. 

#SpiderBrooch was trending on Twitter when I checked and a sampling of tweets (a whopping two out of two) shows that it’s driving people to poetry: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when Cummings tries to make us Leave” and “Spider-Brooch, Spider-Brooch, / Deals with how the law’s approached. / Heard a case, huge in size, / Caught the PM telling lies. / Look out! / Here comes the Spider-Brooch.”

Brooch (I had to check) is pronounced to rhyme with approach, even though it looks like it rhymes with mooch, although it can also rhyme with hootch, pooch, and other elevated nouns that don’t rhyme with approach. English. I love it, but it’s a mess.

So much for the fun stuff. What happens next? A majority of parliament agrees on exactly two things: 1, They don’t want to no-deal Brexit, and 2, they don’t want to be locked in the broom closet during this crucial period when the Brexit deadline is looming and Johnson is trying to avoid asking for an extension. 

After that, the cracks in the Rebel Alliance begin to show. Some of its MPs want to remain in the EU. Some want to leave with a deal (ask what kind of deal and more cracks show up). Some want a second referendum as a way out of this mess. Some, I’m sure, want to go back to the broom closet and hide while the crucial votes are taken so they can say, “It wasn’t my fault.” 

Parliament could hold a vote of no confidence and, if it passes, replace Johnson with someone else, but that involves agreeing on who that should be. That’s another thing they don’t agree on, or at least haven’t so far.

The general belief is that Johnson will try to hold an election and run as a champion of the people against the government. Which has a certain irony, since right now he is the government, but never mind. Whether he’ll be able to hold his party together is anybody’s guess. He’s lost six out of six votes in the House of Commons, lost a major challenge in the courts, and been judged to have misled the queen. Folks here take that last offense seriously even if I can’t manage to.

On the other hand, he’s already thrown his most visible opponents out of the party, so it’s hard to know if anyone’s left to oppose him. As I’m fairly sure I keep saying, stay tuned.