Category Archives: BBC

Hung for a sheep as a goat?

ldRather enjoying the little spat (as reported on the BBC news web-site) arising from the Trump campaign’s claim to be “winning”. Obviously a meme borrowed from the Liberal Democrats here in the UK (heroes to zeroes on a single parliament).

To repeat the obvious, boy-wonder, chip of the old block, Eric Trump plucked a graphic out of the aether, to demonstrate the same phantasy that the all-winning Liberal Democrats have nurtured these many years. It demonstrated — but of course — how the Trump machine was steamrollering the American continent.

Unfortunately, the graphic he had chosen was lifted from to show how men were trending for Trump:


As compared to women:


Then the fun began: and it went quite silly. I was reckoning on “…if only goats voted” (based on USDA graphic for distribution of goats in the USA, showing a frightening concentration in Trumpish Texas), but then I recalled …

John Kennedy’s first outing as a Democrat politician wannabe was Massachusetts’s (then) 11th Congressional District. Patrician JFK worked his Irish-American patch assiduously, but was less-than-convincing with his accent and a hotel as his registered address, so he enrolled himself with the Knights of Columbus. The pay-off was candidates had to parade on St Patrick’s Day with a “relic” or token of Irish ancestry. Kennedy got landed with leading a goat. The JFK Presidential Library has the evidence:


It was the goat what won it, and the rest — as they say — is history.



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Filed under BBC, Elections, History, United States, US Elections, US politics

These things really get up your nose

AP reports:

It’s one of the physics world’s most complex machines, and it has been immobilized — temporarily — by a weasel.

Spokesman Arnaud Marsollier says the world’s largest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN outside of Geneva, has suspended operations because a weasel invaded a transformer that helps power the machine and set off an electrical outage on Thursday night.

Authorities say the incident was one of several small glitches that will delay plans to restart the collider by a few days.

Marsollier says Friday that the weasel died — and little remains of it.

Inevitably, I am reminded of The Ferret Song:

Nothing to add, really.

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The ScienceTake feature in the New York Times has an item on how peacocks use twerking and rustling to attract a mate’s attention. Ah, but ScienceTake had been this way before, and only a few months ago:

That’s the second time in a couple of days I’ve had peacocks drawn to my notice. This was the other:

I am thereby reminded of two further incidents.

The first was a TCD legend.

The graduates’ association felt that the Fellows’ Garden needed to be brightened by the addition of peacocks. One by one the daft birds escaped into College Green or Nassau Street; and met an untimely and messy end under Dublin Corporation buses. Some unkind souls suggested they were helped on their way by undergraduates who, like the protesting folk of Ushaw Moor, found the creatures disturbing their sleep.

The other came from an afternoon at Lisbon’s Castelo de São Jorge in Lisbon. Here, too, we find peacocks. They have enough wit to frequent the area around the café:


So far, so good. The café is shaded by trees: itself a good idea when the sun beats down. However, the peacocks roost in these trees. And peacocks, especially when fed on the scraps from tourists tables, tend to be incontinent.

I watched for a few minutes, but the inevitable didn’t happen. Well, it didn’t happen just then …

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Filed under BBC, New York Times, travel, Trinity College Dublin

A farrago revisited

I think this is the third occasion I’ve had to point this out.

Today BBC2’s Daily Politics featured the unspeakable Nigel Farage. I was musing that Andrew “Brillo” Neil was giving the unspeakable an easy ride, when he concluded with that business between Ben Bradshaw and David Cameron over the unspeakable’s poncey pronunciation:

Neil then invoked the Oxford Dictionary’s expert, who got herself off the hook by saying the Dictionary didn’t include proper names per se. Since the unspeakable isn’t a vacuum cleaner or a move in ice-skating or an Irish land-agent involved in evictions he isn’t yet an eponym.

Yet far(r)age is in the OED. And here it comes:


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Filed under Andrew Neil, BBC, David Cameron, Oxford English Dictionary, politics, reading, UKIP

A plan so cunning, you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel!

That’s Blackadder, but everyone of sense knew so.

Yesterday, in The Observer, Andrew Rawnsley was also with the fauna:

Number 10 scheduled David Cameron’s supposedly “definitive” speech on immigration for the Friday just gone in the hope that this would draw a line under that argument, persuade his party to shut up about it and clear the way for the chancellor to swivel the nation’s focus on to the economy this Wednesday. Like many of Downing Street’s cunning schemes, it has not worked to plan. The media, having been encouraged to believe that the prime minister’s speech would be a “game-changer”, have reacted with a sense of anticlimax when he stepped back from advocating the new controls on EU migration that had floated out of Number 10 beforehand.

One blackly humorous Labour figure jokes: “The media management has been so cack-handed that, for a moment, I thought we’d done it.”

One has to agree that no all is going well with the once-impeccable Tory Fibs Factory.

I mean, consider what went up this morning:


There are three coded messages there:

  1. Keep right to Amble on with slow delivery;
  2. Danger!
  3. If you’re a Tory woman, you’ll always be out in the cold,  looking over a cold shoulder.

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Filed under Andrew Rawnsley, BBC, David Cameron, Observer

Antrim? Not baffled one wee bit.

Nick Robinson, thee BBC Political Editor, offers “last minute” thoughts:

If you live in Accrington or Aberystwyth or Antrim, wherever you are in England or Wales, or Northern Ireland, I can see why it might be a little bit baffling. Forgive me, it may even be a bit boring at times.

OK: the alliteration is a nice touch.

However, I could assure Mr Robinson that the folk in Antrim are not baffled one tiny bit. In Antrim — as in Down, Armagh and points adjacent — they know precisely which foot they dig with.

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Filed under BBC, Nick Robinson, Northern Irish politics

Overwhelmed by the sheer volume

Right, folks:

It has a smack of the true Banned List @JohnRentoul, which is turning into a style-guide for the ever-changing Zeitgeist (and there’s probably three examples in this sentence already).

I have already whinged over this one. Here it comes again:

Southern Water said “torrential rain fell across Sussex” leading to some sewers becoming “overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water”.

Like The L&N, the buck Don’t Stop Here Anymore

As, c’mon! You knew I couldn’t miss that Malcolmian aside.

Admit it:this one is better than the usual — 

Back in Sussex…

… the drains flooded.
As they do.
More often than not, excessive rainfall is involved.

The water companies can achieve the same result, failing to maintain their infrastructure (i.e. pipes and sewers), because shareholder dividends and managerial bonuses are a higher priority:

Southern Water has seen its operating profit increase 21.9 per cent on turnover of £778.7 million as it reports its financial results for the year ended 31 March 2013…

Profit after taxation for the company nearly doubled, up to £156.9 million from £79.9 million a year before.

While we find something else in the Portsmouth Evening News (9th October 2012):

According to the paper, Southern Water had been taken to court and prosecuted 40 times in the past nine years for pollution offences. Last year it was fined a total of £150,000 for sewage leaks and is one of the biggest polluters of rivers and beaches in the country.

Last year there were 47 leaks into Langstone harbour, an area which is a site of scientific interest and attracts many different species of migrating birds every year. Seals have also been known to use the harbour.

Southern Water made £79.9m profit after tax in the last financial year – more than double the profits the year before.

Sheer hypocrisy?

Another general benefit of privatisation is that, in any case, ministers are off-the-hook, for, like the Albertophage Wallace:

The Magistrate gave his o-pinion
That no-one was really to blame 
He said that he hoped the water-cump-nies
Would add further sums to their name.

Let us recall how, last winter, with the Somerset Levels drowned,  Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and his understrappers sloughed responsibility onto the Environment Agency.

When Chris Smith remarked that the government had cut £100 million for the budget, and ensured the sacking of a quarter of the workforce, and this might, just possibly, be a factor, he was instantly the embattled boss of the Environment Agency.


This is another of those over-worked words. The OED has it as two different nouns, an adverb, an adjective, and four verbs. That’s before we go into derivatives and compounds, the choicest of which (for me) is:

Sheer Thursday: the Thursday in Holy Week, Maundy Thursday.

with allusion to the purification of the soul by confession (compare Shrove Thursday, French jeudi absolu), and perhaps also to the practice of washing the altars on that day.

Even then, I have to scroll down tho usage 8 of the adjective to find this one:

Neither more nor less than (what is expressed by the noun); that and nothing else; unmitigated, unqualified; downright, absolute, pure.

“Pure” is not what I’d be looking for, in the matter of flooded sewers or the Euston Road at rush-hour.

Despite the nine citations the OED finds (dated from 1583 to 1885), I’m unconvinced that the word adds anything— not even a useful reinforcement — in expressions like the sheer volume of water/traffic.


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Filed under BBC, Conservative Party policy., folk music, Music, Oxford English Dictionary, politics, Tories.