Archive for June, 2007

Height Chart

June 29th, 2007

Here‘s a handy chart from The Times showing how tall Hazel Blears is, as compared to (i) hitherto well-documented and in some cases actually-existing varieties of penguin and (ii) the Extinct Giant Tropical Penguin discussed below. [Thanks, David E.]

More on the Politics of Facial Hair

June 28th, 2007

I don’t think there’s any significant facial hair in Mr Brown’s new Cabinet, if these pictures are anything to go by. Beards were absent from the Cabinet room from 1931 to 1997, as I’ve discussed before, and it now looks as if the Blair era, for all its faults, was a unique Bearded Cabinet Minister Interlude, with Robin Cook, Frank Dobson, David Blunkett, Charles Clarke and (a bearded) Alistair Darling all holding Cabinet office. I’m not sure there are any obvious ministerial beardies on the horizon, either, but perhaps we’ll find out more tomorrow when the junior ministers get reshuffled.

Pepper’s Burgers

June 28th, 2007

Whenever I go past Pepper’s Burgers on Walton Street these days, it seems to be closed. And the people at this page seem to think it has closed down. This would, obviously, be utterly disastrous for humanity in general and the residents of Jericho in particular, so I hope it isn’t true. Does anyone know what’s going on? (I might have to produce another Defunct Oxford Institutions page.)

Fraternal Trivia

June 28th, 2007

The BBC:

The Milibands are the first brothers to sit in Cabinet since Austen and Neville Chamberlain (in fact, half-brothers) in 1924.

What about the 4th Marquess of Salisbury (Lord Privy Seal) and his brother, the 1st Viscount Cecil (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) in Baldwin’s second government, 1924-7?

(Maybe they weren’t both Cabinet posts?)

American Bald Eagle

June 28th, 2007

Reading this story reminded me of Sam the Eagle‘s talk on the conservation of endangered species from this episode of the Muppet Show. I was going to link to it on YouTube, where I saw it again quite recently for the first time in absolutely ages, but some killjoy has removed it, so I can’t. But perhaps you remember it, too.


June 28th, 2007

I quite enjoyed the sixty-eight minutes during which we were primeministerless yesterday, but that’s probably because I spent virtually all of them eating a delicious lunch at Gino’s on Gloucester Green.

The BBC usefully covers the crises that hit the nation during this period of acephalousness (acephalocity?): Chantelle and Preston split up, a man was attacked by a buzzard in Aberdeenshire, and so on.

P.S. If anyone can produce a suitable-sounding German word for “primeministerlessness”, I shall be very pleased. I imagine it’d be quite long.

To whom do I write in order to get my 62p refunded?

June 28th, 2007

Over here.


June 28th, 2007

So if Jack Straw is the new Minister for Justice, do we have a new Lord Chancellor or not? Is it still Charlie Falconer? Do we have one at all? Presumably we do, because otherwise Brown would be in the same mess Blair was in when he tried to abolish the post. Or has something changed? Anyway: what’s going on?

Dead Socialist Watch, #276

June 28th, 2007

Edward Carpenter, English socialist and champion of gay sex. A clerical fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Carpenter resigned his holy orders and left for the North, teaching astronomy at Leeds and living from 1880 near Sheffield with his lover, Albert Fearnehough. He published Toward Democracy anonymously in 1883; from 1882 he was a market gardener and helped to popularise sandal-making as a suitable activity for socialists. He wrote a programme for the Sheffield Socialist Society in 1886, as well as “England Arise: a Socialist Marching Song”, and his 1889 Fabian Lecture was published as Civilization: Its Cause and Cure. He began his major works on sex in the 1890s, with Homogenic Love, and its Place in a Free Society later republished as Love’s Coming of Age. His most widely-read work was The Intermediate Sex, published in 1908. A pacifist, he opposed both the Boer War and the First World War. Born in Brighton, 29 August 1844, died in Guildford, 28 June 1929. His grave is here.

DSW, #156

June 28th, 2007

Anthony Buckeridge, author of Jennings Goes To School and other books, born 20 June 1912, died 28 June 2004.

DSW, #155

June 28th, 2007

Alexander Berkman, born 21 November 1870, committed suicide 28 June 1936.

New Cabinet

June 28th, 2007

By my count there are seven PPEists in Gordon Brown’s new Cabinet: Jacqui Smith (Hertford & Home Secretary), Yvette Cooper (Balliol & Housing), Ruth Kelly (Queen’s & Transport), Ed Miliband (Corpus Christi & Cabinet Office), James Purnell (Balliol & Culture – an unlikely combination), Ed Balls (Keble & Schools), David Miliband (CCC & FCO). That’s a lot of PPEists. And at least three of the Chancellor’s most recent team of special advisers are PPEists, too (Shriti Vadera, Dan Corry, Stewart Wood; I’m not sure where the other two studied. Perhaps Michael Jacobs and Gavin Kelly did PPE, too? Who knows?). So Gordon Brown may not like Oxford University much, but he does seem to like the PPE degree (or at least a subsection of those who take the course) very much indeed.