COP26–the meeting to save humanity from itself, and the planet along with it–was held in Scotland earlier this month. That presented a problem for US broadcasters, who discovered that Scotland’s geography is–well, it’s specific to Scotland is what it is. In other words, it demands a level of knowledge about a foreign country that no American can be expected to possess.
CNN’s news presenter Wolf Blitzer opened by announcing that world leaders had gathered in Edinburgh to discuss the climate crisis. Behind him was the magnificent backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. “I’m now reporting from Edinburgh in Scotland where 20,000 world leaders and delegates have gathered for the COP26 Climate Summit,” he tweeted.
The meeting, unfortunately, was in Glasgow–a whole ‘nother city that’s rude enough to be 42 miles west of Edinburgh.
[Late addition: I’d originally written that it’s east of Edinburgh. My thanks to John Russell for noticing that. I hope the Glasburgians had their flotation devices close at hand until I came back and relocated them.)
The absence of punctuation is his. It may have gotten lost somewhere between the two cities.
In an effort to restore the balance, Reuters’ Jeff Mason tweeted a picture of Joe Biden walking out of his plane “in Glasgow,” although in fact he’d landed in Edinburgh. Reuters is a British-based news agency, so you might expect them to get this right, but Mason is based in the US.
I’m grateful to both reporters, because when you’re staring down the barrel of planetwide destruction you just naturally want something to laugh about, even if the laughter does slide over into hysteria now and then.
Before we move on, a few notes about those cities: Having landed in (check your map, please, everyone) Edinburgh, and in the spirit of climate-saving irony, Biden and his whole damn motorcade drove from Edinburgh to Glasgow. But let’s not go too hard on Biden, the bad-optics sweepstakes were won by Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, who made an appearance at COP26, then flew back to London in a private jet so he could have dinner with a climate-change skeptic at a men-only private club.
Then he announced at a press conference that COP26 had been held in Glasgow. Which he may or may not know is located in Scotland. And he may or may not be wondering why so many people in Scotland–wherever that may or may not be–want to leave the United Kingdom.
After listening to entirely too many US reporters, a British reporter, Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy–who knows his Edinburgh from his Glasgow and (I’m making assumptions here) his ass from a hole in the ground–tweeted to American reporters that the city’s pronounced glas-go, not glas-gow. English spelling being what it is, I’m sure they’re grateful to have instructions. No one can assemble the damn language without them.
The crime and canned food report
If crime’s what puts a country on the map, Britain can claim its spot with pride. We’re suffering from beaning attacks and the police have asked shops not to sell multiple cans of baked beans to kids. They’ve also asked parents to check their cupboards to make sure no baked beans have wandered off unsupervised.
What’s going on? Kids are dumping baked beans on people’s driveways, doors, cars, and whatever else doesn’t run away, bite, or throw a decent punch. Then they post a video. It started on TikTok, andi it has its own hashtag, as any good crime wave should.
The article where I found this included a warning that baked beans are bad for dogs, which is what makes this is so dangerous.
For the sake of clarity, I’ve made an assumption there that you’re human. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Lord G. also led me to a source that said the tomatoes in most baked beans aren’t healthy for dogs and to another that said they’re okay for an occasional treat. If you turn out to be a dog, I guess the best thing to do is eat them in moderation .
But back to the baked beans: A beaning attack doesn’t involve a whole drivewayful of the slop. The kids spill a can or two. I’d be annoyed about it, but I couldn’t see myself calling the cops. Of course, I haven’t been beaned. Maybe I’ll change my mind if I am.
And in other canned food news
The holiday season’s almost upon us and Heinz–the company that makes canned soups and other prefabricated edibles–has come up with a canful of British Christmas dinner. Yes, folks, this can (or tin in British) has everything you need for the holiday–turkey, pigs-in-blankets, brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, stuffing balls, gravy, and cranberry sauce, all in the form of a soup.
They left out the mince pies and the Christmas pudding, which is probably wise but I don’t think they can call the dinner complete without them.
The possible British crisis report
You may or may not have heard that Britain’s in a semi-permanent state of possible crisis.
Possible crisis? Yup. We keep reading about it, but from where I sit not a whole lot seems to have changed, so although I don’t think it’s fabricated, I haven’t managed to get into a full-blown crisis mood.
What’s happening is that we’re short of truck (or if you’re British, lorry) drivers, so things that should be getting delivered aren’t–although again, most of what I look for when I do the grocery shopping is on the shelves, and what isn’t I can work around.. Still, the shortage is real, and you can blame: 1, Brexit, 2, Covid, 3, anti-immigrant politicians limiting who can come into the country and for how long, 4, government incompetence (that’s my default setting but too complicated to explain in the list format I got myself stuck with), or 5, people’s unwillingness to work for poor pay and in lousy conditions. Pick one or more, as your mood and politics dictate. As far as I can tell, all or most of them have an influence.
What are we short of and is it really a crisis? To answer the second question first, in spite of what I said above, you’re damn right it is because (we’re back to the first question now) we could run short of fake tan any day. You know fake tan: It’s the stuff that if you’re white you slather on yourself so you’ll look like you risked cancer to get a skin color you like better than the one you came in.
Or maybe you don’t slather it on yourself. I’ll confess to never having used it, but isn’t it fascinating that a culture which still–with apologies for the generalization–looks down its nose at people with darker skin is addicted to slatherable skin goop because people with lighter skin want to be darker?
The reason for the shortage is that manufacturers are having trouble getting ethoxydiglycol, dihydroxyacetone, and erythrulose. Possibly because of how hard they are to spell.
If this plays out as predicted, yes, we’re in serious trouble over here. If you live elsewhere and have friends or relatives in Britain, send fake tan!
Before I leave the topic, though, we need two truth-in-reporting moments:
1) Although we genuinely are short of delivery drivers, and the government genuinely is incompetent and also at the moment gloriously mired in sleaze reports (we’re in the midst of a sleaze-valanche and I’m having a wonderful time, thanks; it more than makes up for the fake tan crisis), neither of these seems to be the source of this particular shortage. I can’t rule out Covid, though.
2) We have a crisis that’s getting less press than the driver shortage, and that’s an overwhelmed health system. This is only partially a Covid problem. The National Health System has been underfunded for years, all in the name of efficiency, and also partially privatized (also in the name of efficiency, and setting the NHS up to fail can be used to justify that). It’s also been disastrously reorganized,. And not enough doctors and nurses have been trained. Many are getting ready to retire, and already hospitals are reporting that they’re dangerously understaffed. I’d ask you to send trained medical people as well as fake tan–as a nation, we’ve relied on raiding the world for their trained medical people–but since we hate foreigners these days, not many of them would be eligible to work here.
What’s the best way to honor veterans?
In Cheshire, two politicians (okay, one of them’s a former politician) who are both veterans decided that the best way was to hire a 7.8 ton tank and drive it through town to the local Remembrance Day event, where they forgot to set the handbrake–the thing Americans call an emergency brake. That allowed the tank to roll into the remembrance garden’s gates and smash hell out of them, thereby ensuring that even if other veterans are forgotten, the two of them will be remembered.
The tank rents for £950 a day, in case you want one.
And finally a sensible story
As vaccine mandates push the reluctant to let themselves be vaccinated, a new idea’s entered the lune-a-sphere: getting that vaccine out of your body once it’s been put in. People are being advised that they can give into the mandate and keep their jobs but in the privacy of their homes make sure their bodies stay virginal and unsullied.
How do they do that? Well, according to one anti-vaxxer, who’s gotten enough views on TikTok to draw attention from the mainstream media, they take a detox bath of water, baking soda, epsom salts, and bentonite clay. Then they add a cup of Borax.
That soaks out radiation, poisons, and nanotechnologies.
What nanotechnologies? The liquidized computers in the vaccine that are turning us all into transhumans.
How do the vaccine makers do that? They disassemble one of those old room-sized computers, put it in a blender, and add it to the Covid vaccine vats.
Or–okay, I might possibly have made up the method, but we live in a post-truth world. Who’s going to challenge me?
According to the experts, unvaccinating yourself is right up there with unringing a bell. Between the time the needle goes into your arm and the time you reach your car (assuming you have a car, and that you came in it) the vaccine will have started to work.
It’s hard to pick a single element out of this and crown it the most controversial, but let’s try. We’ve got the claim that people can soak out a vaccine out of their bodies. We’ve got the claim that the vaccine (which one? does it matter?) activates radiation (no, don’t ask me), and we’ve got the claim that it contains a liquified computing system that will turn us into transhumans. But on an immediate damage-to-the-body level, the most controversial element surely is soaking in Borax.
Now, Borax has its uses, and if you want to kill ants and cockroaches, it’s good stuff, but but soaking yourself in it isn’t recommended. It can irritate your skin and eyes. I’m not sure what it does to ants and cockroaches, but I’m sure it’s nothing nice. They haven’t offered any testimonials for the stuff.
My advice? Dress warm, friends, and carry an umbrella, because it’s crazy out there.