L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

03 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Words to Eschew in 007

The Lake Superior State University has a nice "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness". I think my favourite definition of why a particular word should be banned is this one:

UNDOCUMENTED ALIEN -- "If they haven't followed the law to get here, they are by definition 'illegal.' It's like saying a drug dealer is an 'undocumented pharmacist.'" -- John Varga, Westfield, New Jersey.

The rest of the list is good too, as was last year's list, although it suffers from being a bit American. I reckon that a UK version (which after all is the home of the Queen and hence by definition is home of the Queen's English) would be a good idea.

03 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

How to Improve Democracy

I'm not really a supporter of modern democracy. I tend to support it on the Churchillian grounds that it is the least bad method of governance discovered rather than anything stronger so I am always interested in ways to improve it a bit.


One thing I like a lot is the Swiss and American (state) approach of binding referenda where you get to vote whether you agree or not with a particular law and hence whether it should pass or fail. I don't by any means think all laws should be subject to such a process but I do believe it has a great deal of merit in curbing legislatures that persist in ignoring the popular will in a particular area. This isn't to say that the great unwashed is always right or that a better approach might not be to set up an alternative political party but sometimes I think you can get a better result through a single issue campaign.

I believe that the UK should have a similar referendum opportunity.

I'm sure that A Blair Esq and his merry band would hate it because, going on recent opinion polls it would result in the casting down of much that they hold dear. For example the BBC had a poll about which law to scrap which was handily won by the Hunting Act with the European Communities Act coming in as a strong number 2. In fact those two together combined made up over 80% of all the votes cast which suggests to me that a party who promised to hold binding referenda on those two events and then to hold fresh elections could well be very well placed. If said party also added referenda on educational streaming, the death penalty and maybe a couple of other topics (e.g. protest laws, abortion, English parliament and/or the independence of Scotland) I reckon it could be a winner. Of course in order to do so it would have to first pass the referendum enabling legislation but I can't see that such a process would take more than a month or so, allow three months for campaining on the verious referenda, a vote and laws passed based on the result to be implemented in the day before calking for new elections and you would have a governent of no more than 6 months total and hence a policy of ignroing other day to day issues would be unlikely to hurt the nation. [If you simply told all ministers to say no to all spending changes in that time you'd probably also end up reducing the government budget too, but that would be merely an accidental by product :) ]

I was going to write purely about this subject but I came up with another idea over a lunchtime chat where we were bemoaing the fact that none of the politicians look to be attractive.

Negative voting.

The option to register a negative vote for one or all candidates on offer. Rules might need a bit of thinking and maybe tweaking but I would propose that the following rules would be good to start with
  1. Voters may vote either
    1. Positively for a single candidate (i.e. as today)
    2. Negatively for a single candidate
    3. "None of the Above"
  2. A negative vote for candiate X reduces candiate X's vote count by 1
  3. "None of the above" produces a fractional negative vote for each candidate.
  4. The winning candidate is the one with
    1. the highest aggregate vote
    2. receives more positive votes than "None of the above" (ie. Positives > Nones)
    3. the most positive votes
  5. If no candidate meets has a positive adjusted number of votes (ie. Positives - Negatives - Nones/no of candidates > 0)the conditions above a new election must be held.
  6. Recipients of an aggregrate negative number of votes are banned from standing in the next election for that candidate or (in the case of mass elections other poisitions of equal authority at the next opportunity. I.e. if you receive a negative vote standing as MP for Harwich in the 2010 election you cannot stand for any parliamentary seat in the next general election but could stand as MEP or for a local government.
Why I say there needs to be thinking and tweaking is that there are some possibly odd corner cases. The sub-conditions may lead to cases where one candidate wins the highest aggregate number of votes but ends up having fewer positive votes than the "None of the aboves" and for cases where a tie in aggregate votes occurs because one candidate receives both more positive and more negative votes than another.

E.g. consider this example with 3 candidates A B C which illustrates two corner cases.
Aggregate (Px-Nx-N/3)
None (N)

At first sight candidate B has won as he has the highest count and the fewest number of negative votes but he also received fewer positive votes than "None" and so is discarded. Now we have a tie in aggregate score between A and C who both have 13. A wins because he got 50 positives compared to 40 for C.

Is it in fact better to have the most liked candidate or the least disliked? and how do you define the terms?

05 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Friday Olive Tree Blogging

One of our little self seeded trees has been planted in the back garden. I hope I'm around when its big enough to climb/sit in.

As always click on the image to enlarge and do visit the rest of the collection if you missed them.

08 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Educating Ministers

The Englishman read it first in the Torygraph albeit rather anonymously, then there were comments in the Wapping Liar's blog as well as ones by Guido and Stephen Pollard. All of them concern Ruth Kelly who has decided to take her kid out of state education because her local schools are crap. Various newspapers are claiming that she is therefore a hypocrite, a charge that the latter 3 blog reject. Well I'm going to partially reject their rejection. She is a hypocrite not for her actions in choosing a scholl for her child but because as cabinet minister for eddikashun she has thereby presided over the steady dumbing down of state education combined with centralized micromanagement and thesteadfast denail of the same. Not forgetting coddling the ideologically muddled "teachers" who seem to prefer to keep their charges in ignorance of things such as the unfairness of life and the fact that we are all different. As evidence for the prosecution I present the report fisked admirably by Haddock BDA.

Fortunately, and unlike the usual "progressive" critic, I am able to suggest a way that Ruth Kelly and her fellow ZANU labour colleagues to avoid this kind of embarrassment.

Firstly if they simply provided every child with a voucher for education that could be used anywhere then they would immediately side-step most of the hypocrisy charge. If they then took on the bolshies in the teacher's unions and fired a few of the more obvious Marxist morons, paid salaries based on subject taught and so on then they could happily send their children to Eton or Harrow with no fear of being called a hypocrite. Of course at that point the probably wouldn't need to send their kiddies to independent schools because the state schools would now be of a high enough standard. I regret to say that neither ZANU labour nor the Nouveaux Conservatives will adopt such a policy despite the fact that it is used in such paragons of egalitarianism such as Sweden.

Somewhat coincidentally I was reading (again) some Kipling over at the excellent Whitewolf site this weekend and I cannot help noting the description of Rudyard Kipling's school days in Stalky & Co., not to mention the more biographical essay in Land & Sea Tales Land And Sea Tales, whence these extracts of wisdom:

OF ALL things in the world there is nothing, always excepting a good mother, so worthy of honour as a good school. Our School was created for the sons of officers in the Army and Navy, and filled with boys who meant to follow their father’s calling.

...But I come back to the School that he made and put his mark upon. The boys said that those with whom Cheltenham could do nothing, whom Sherbourne found too tough, and whom even Marlborough had politely asked to leave, had been sent to the School at the beginning of things and turned into men. They were, perhaps, a shade rough sometimes. One very curious detail, which I have never seen or heard of in any school before or since, was that the Army Class, which meant the Prefects, and was generally made up of boys from seventeen and a half to nineteen or thereabouts, was allowed to smoke pipes (cigarettes were then reckoned the direct invention of the Evil One) in the country outside the College. One result of this was that, though these great men talked a good deal about the grain of their pipes, the beauty of their pouches, and the flavour of their tobacco, they did not smoke to any ferocious extent. The other, which concerned me more directly, was that it went much harder with a junior whom they caught smoking than if he had been caught by a master, because the action was flagrant invasion of their privilege, and, therefore, rank insolence—to be punished as such. Years later, the Head admitted that he thought something of this kind would happen when he gave the permission. If any Head-master is anxious to put down smoking nowadays, he might do worse than give this scheme a trial.

... Our masters, luckily, were never gushing. They did not call us Dickie or Johnnie or Tommy, but Smith or Thompson; and when we were undoubtedly bad we were actually and painfully beaten with an indubitable cane on a veritable back till we wept unfeigned tears. Nobody seemed to think that it brutalized our finer feelings, but everybody was relieved when the trouble was over.

Canes, especially when they are brought down with a drawing stroke, sting like hornets; but they are a sound cure for certain offences; and a cut or two, given with no malice, but as a reminder, can correct and keep corrected a false quantity or a wandering mind, more completely than any amount of explanation.

There was one boy, however, to whom every Latin quantity was an arbitrary mystery, and he wound up his crimes by suggesting that he could do better if Latin verse rhymed as decent verse should. He was given an afternoon’s reflection to purge himself of his contempt; and feeling certain that he was in for something rather warm, he turned “Donec gratus eram” into pure Devonshire dialect, rhymed, and showed it up as his contribution to the study of Horace.

He was let off, and his master gave him the run of a big library, where he found as much verse and prose as he wanted; but that ruined his Latin verses and made him write verses of his own. There he found all the English poets from Chaucer to Matthew Arnold, and a book called Imaginary Conversations which he did not understand, but it seemed to be a good thing to imitate. So he imitated and was handed up to the Head, who said that he had better learn Russian under his own eye, so that if ever he were sent to Siberia for lampooning the authorities he might be able to ask for things.

That meant the run of another library—English Dramatists this time; hundreds of old plays; as well as thick brown books of voyages told in language like the ringing of bells. And the Head would sometimes tell him about the manners and customs of the Russians, and sometimes about his own early days at college, when several people who afterwards became great, were all young, and the Head was young with them, and they wrote wonderful things in college magazines.

It was beautiful and cheap—dirt cheap, at the price of a permanent load of impositions, for neglecting mathematics and algebra.

I have no doubt that as is stated somewhere in Stalky that the corporal punishment handed out could be misconstrued as common assault but I am sure that the boys who received it learned what they were taught in class "and a few other things which did not appear in the bills". I also suspect that employers of today would prefer employees educated in such a manner - even including a concentration on Latin and Greek and a total lack of computer skills - over the media studies graduates they actually get from the UK state education system.

08 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Far Right = Small Government?

Disclosure: I am a strong believer in minimalist government. I think it is fair to say that I consider many so-called libertarians to be hopelessly big government stooges who just haven't thought about it enough.

I am not saying anything unique when I note that the main benefit of the Internet and blogging is that it has allowed those who believe in small government and limited governmental interference to get their message out in a way that earlier 20th century technologies did not. This coincides, not coincidentally IMO, with an ever growing mistrust in the ability of big government to solve the problems that modern societies face. At present I do not believe that a majority of people think this way but the fraction that does is, it seems to me, growing even in countries where statism has a long and relatively successful record (e.g. France or Belgium). Furthermore, even people who seem keen on their own big government are willing to believe all sorts of conspiracy theories about other governments whether it is the USA, the EU, Russia, Iran or the Rotarians. In Western Europe this disaffection with big government is leading to an increasing disaffection with current mainstream political parties because today's politicial mainstream parties are mostly in favour of big government and having their turn at putting their snouts in the trough. This leads to a large "apathy" vote at many elections and, worse, leads to votes for "fascist" extreme parties such as the BNP, Front National etc.

Not at all coincidentally I note that many of these parties seem to be desperately appending libertarian, small government policies to their nastier racial purity ones. The party that seems to have gone the furthest in this regard is the Vlaams Belang in Belgium, which seems to be genuinely limited government, free market and, officially, only keen on dealing with unemployed immigrants; that is to say dealing with the social security system that permits people to sponge off the rest of society for life. I wrote about the VB last year before the Belgian local elections where I said that I thought that the pre-election carve up by the non VB parties in Flanders was a bad thing. I got a certain amount of stick in the comments because, while the VB may officially not be nastily racist, it certainly appears to contain a bunch of nasty racists within it.

In the rest of the continent, the German right wingers seem to be lagging behind, at least as far as I can tell but the Austrian right has also made a similar move albeit one that its leader Joerg Haider seemed upset with. In France Charles Bremner reported that Le Pen's FN is at the least drawing attention to the failures of the big state, which is quite a step forward in a country where dirigism has been the poicy for centuries.

It is in Britain though where things are most interesting. The far right seems not to be trying this policy on very hard as, unlike most other countries, there are already a number of small(er) government parties - e.g. UKIP and some parts of the Tory party - who can allow small government folk a less unpleasant choice. The BNP is going after the guardianistas, political correctness and the like, but they have yet to really try and hop onto the limited government plank - its last mainfesto was full of Gaullist ideas of protectionism and national champions of the sort that the French and Germans are still proving to be a really really bad idea. However it may well try to do that if the Nouveaux Conservatives continue to suck up to Polly Toynbee. After all it has tried to do precisely that on the English Parliament idea, although, as Gareth points out, it has some odd ideas about who might be allowed to vote for members of such a body.

We in the BNP will create an English Parliament for the indigenous English people themselves. The British State and its political structures will be the sole political representative bodies for all those of non-indigenous Anglo-Saxon English descent in England. Those from non-indigenous English and immigrant backgrounds should only be able to vote for parties and to stand for election in political institutions that are British, and never indigenous English. The English must first awaken and then rule over themselves. The BNP will form a Council of the Isles for the various Folk Parliaments of Britain to send elected representatives to participate in the proceedings of the British State, but only those that define themselves as indigenous English must and will have the right to form an English Parliament that recognises their ancestral rights over the lands of England and their right to self define and identify themselves as the indigenous English Folk of this land.

How, one wonders, is one to prove that one is an "Anglo-saxon" or "indigenous". If one has ancestors who were Huguenots is one excluded? how about Normans? or Vikings? (or Jews? ) and would this mean that Danes, Dutch and Northern German immigrants would be allowed to vote because they would seem to be just about as "Anglo Saxon" as their distant cousins who crossed over the North Sea 1500 years ago? And what about the numerous descendants of Poles, Czechs and others who fought for Britain in WW2?

[Aside: I went to primary school with a kid called Dimitry Wozinski (or something like that) and hence butt of endless "Dim" jokes. As far as I know his mother was as English as they come but his father was the son of a Polish refugee who fled the Nazis in 1939. I think said grandfather became a pilot because I recall that in between acting out episodes of "the Bionic Man" we had Dim as squadron leader of the Spirfires as we attacked the evil Germans - but for all I know he was merely a maintenance worker in the RAF. From what I remember after 3 decades and a bit this kid was, apart from the name, pretty much your perfect BNP "indigenous White Working Class English" and utterly indistingushable from the Pauls, Daves, Mikes, Darrens and Kevins that were in the same class. ]

The only way for that I can think of for "indigenous people" to prove that they are such would be to subject everyone to a genetic test and issue ID cards based on the result of this. Since the BNP seems unhappy with ZANU Labour's ID Card plans, and since despite the BNP claims, the genetic evidence is rather mixed, it is uncertain how a genetic test would work anyway. In other words the plan is total bunk.

But to go back to the original idea. The defenders of the transnational status quo with all theit bureaucratic institutions and total lack of accountability are trying to tar those of us who like small government with the "fascist" tag even though, as Tim W points out, in many ways fascists like the BNP are left-wing and espouse similar policies to those of the Guardianistas and other tranzies.

08 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Problems in the Pipeline

The politicians in Germany and Poland are rather upset because Russia has cut off supplies of oil through the pipeline that runs across Belarus. I'm not going to comment on the deals Russia and its gas/pil producers cut with other nations other than to say that countries who get their energy at below market rates should not act terribly surprised if the producer decides to increase the price next time around. But the fall out of the squabble between the two nations is rather reminiscent of last year's gas problems and shows, to my mind, the advantages of supertankers over pipelines for oil and gas consumers.

The problem with pipelines is that they lead to what those of us who design reliable networks and servers call a "Single Point of Failure" or SPOF. Because the pipeline is there and always providing gas (or oil) you fail to make sufficient allowances for what might happen when it isn't there, and thereby end up in a crisis. This is not something that just applies to oil and gas, the various power outages that we have seen here and there over the year or so indicate that electricity distribution networks are also lacking in redundancy.

I have in the past been fairly radical about criticising people for going for too much redundancy because I've seen a lot of cases where it would have been quicker to simply unplug the failed unit and replace it and other cases where the problem that brimges the network down originates in the redundant design going wrong. However when it comes to energy supplies I think that redundancy and deliberate construction of excess capacity are good things. If you look at the pipeline maps you see that they tend to have no redundancy what so ever and this seems to me to be a really bad thing even if it turns out that the downstream countries have a few months of fuel reserves (which they probably don't). With oil tankers, on the other hand, you don't suffer from this problem because you can (with some limitations about handling of sour crude variants) replace oil from one field with oil from another. In other words you are much more resilient to shocks.

It seems to me to be rather cheeky of the politicians of consuming nations to complain that their single supply of energy has been disrupted. But I'm sure they'd rather spend their time whinging instead of explaining to people that they and their predecessors prefered to ignore this problem.

08 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Verizon Maths: Dollars == Cents

Verizon's call center staff have a problem understanding the difference between $0.002 and 0.002¢. The result is this Verizonmath blog dedicate to highlighting the problem neatly explained in this transcript of a call. I'd say these are the critical excerpts but do read the entire blog and listen to the actual calls:

G: Well, let me just start out with a basic question.

M: Okay.

G: Do you recognize that there's a difference between “point zero zero two dollars” and “point zero zero two cents”?


M: Point zero zero two dollars?

G: Do you recognize that there is actually...

M: ...and point zero zero two cents.

G: Yes, do you you recognize there's a difference between those 2 numbers?


M: No.

G: Okay, is there a difference between 2 dollars and 2 cents?

M: Well, yeah, sir..

G: Well okay, is it.. is there a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents?

M: .002 dollars and .002 cents.

G: Yes, is there a difference between..

M: Sir, sir, they're.. they're both the same if you, if you look at 'em on paper-wise


G: What I was quoted was .002 cents. That seems to be what you believe is the rate is .002 cents. Unfortunately, your computer system charged me .002 dollars per kilobit, er, per kilobyte, so my point here is the confusion is on your side, and the first rep I spoke to, the second rep I spoke to, and including you, in calling “.002 dollars” “.002 cents”, that's a hundredfold difference just like one dollar is 100 times different than1 cent.

[time passes...]

M: Okay... looking at the pricing here for ya.

M: Okay.. for data.

M: National roaming access coverage in Canada is .002 per kilobyte cents.

G: Can you say that again?

M: It's .002 cents per kilobyte

G: .002 cents per kilobyte. So you just quoted me again; your price is .002 cents per kilobyte

M: Correct.

G: Okay, so now I'd like you to translate my 35,893 kilobytes into dollars if you would.

M: Okay, if you take .002

G: Cents, remember, cents.

M: Times 35,896. 71 dollars and 79...

G: No, that would be 71 cents because you started with a rate per *cent* and multiplied by the kilobytes, so that would be 71 cents. I'll tell you what the problem is here, is you, you're.. the original person I spoke to *before* I used my airtime...

M: Mmhmm.

G: Up to and including you, are quoting .002 dollars per kilobyte as if it's .002 cents per kilobyte and they're not the same, so I assumed that you guys knew how to do math. No offense here , but i assumed that you knew the difference between .002 cents and .002 dollars. And it sounds like there's still some confusion about that. .002 dollars is two one-thousandths of one dollar, or two tenths of one cent, which is very different than two one-thousandths of one cent. It's one hundred times different. [pause] I'll give you a brief example: If you're selling your car and I said I'm gonna give you twenty thousand for it, and I show up with 20,000 pennies, we're not speaking the same language. If you quote me .002 cents it's not the same as .002 dollars. So, when you just did the math .002 times 35,893, you came up with 71 cents. You didn't do the translation from cents to dollars, which would be... you'd have to.. uh, divide by a hundred, so then you get .71 dollars: 71 cents, So, I do understand, even though it seems like maybe *you* don't, that the rate is, I now understand: .002 *dollars* per kilobyte. But that was not what i was quoted, and that's not how I used my airtime because i thought it was... I thought it was cheaper than it actually turned out to be, because I was misquoted.

09 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Vote Mrs T

Tim Worstall links to a BBC poll for political hero where the choice is between
At the time of writing there are some 18600 votes cast with Mrs T and Tony Benn way out in front with approx 35% and 36% of the vote respectively. Although one can whinge about the choices and the people omitted, given that Mrs T is in second place all right thinking people should understand what they need to do.

09 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

UKIP Gets Some Serious Politicians

To go with its much improved policies, UKIP now has politicians who aren't easily dismissed as nutters. As reported by the Devil and the EU Referendum two former Conservative peers have decided to represent UKIP instead. I could be wrong but if the Nouveaux Conservatives continue their leftwards march then I suspect a number of other Tories of similar beliefs will do likewise. This is, in my opinion, excellent news.

The problem with UKIP has historically been that it has atteacted "colourful" candidates. It has also tended to suffer from the other problem of fringe parties: purges, schisms and other internal political manoevering that make it hard to take seriously. I hope that this, combined with the excellent work the Devil is doing in trying to hash out sensible policies, means that UKIP can now become an effective force in British politics.

10 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Good News for PhD Students

(This post also appears at my new Townhall blog)
At NRO's PhiBetaCon's blog David French tells us that the American Historical Association has decided to condemn the war in Iraq - a motion passed with no dissent whatsoever. He continues with this:

As a final note, the Iraq War resolution was drafted by Historians Against the War, which called the war’s practices “inimical to the values of the historical profession.” Which values are those? Are American soldiers plagiarizing or writing unoriginal theses in the Anbar province? Are they ignoring primary documents in favor of secondary sources? Are they advocating against tenure and reduced teaching loads? Not really. It turns out that the “values” of the historical profession mysteriously echo the “core values” of Harvard Law School — historians (like law school deans) are concerned about interrogation techniques.

This is actually good news. Unlike PhDs in other fields, Historians are guaranteed not to be waterboarded during their Vivas, they will also not be forced to parade naked before their examiners or listen to hours of rap music in the hours beforehand. One suspects that the AHA would look rather dimly upon the ancient tradition of the Tripos, judging it a cruel and unusual interrogation technique.

Even better, given the support for speech codes and the condemnation of Iraq, any would be PhD student searching for a topic for his thesis now has a number of options which are sure to guarantee him (or her) professorial approval such as:

10 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Idiotic ZANULabour Education Policy

But I repeat myself. The Torygraph has a couple of opeds and a news item on Education and ZANU Labours view of it. I shall be mostly ignoring Simon Heffer's cogent explanation of why we think Ruth Kelly is a hypocrite and concentrate on the other two which talk about the government's plan to make school access "better".

Some background. Despite a decade of attempting to reduce state education to the lowest common denominator there remain state schools which manage to educate their pupils better than others. Parents who think that a good education would be a good thing for their offspring have tended to buy houses in the catchment areas of these schools thereby driving up house-prices and hence pricing out of the market the poorer people who would also like their kiddies to have a decent education. This is preceived as unfair because it means that rich thickos can get good free schooling while poorer smartypants have to have their lust for learning beaten out of them at the local failing comp instead and our ZANU labour masters have decide that "something must be done" to ensure that the rich are made as miserable as the poor with regards to state education.

As the Torygraph points out there is an easy way to ensure that the best pupils get into the best schools - an exam - however, because this is EdgeUKshun and teachers unions are vehemently against the idea of competition, this is not the solution that will be chosen. Instead catchment areas are to be combined into larger ones with mixtures of good and bad schools and which school your little darling will attend will depend on a lottery. Allow me to explain a few of the unintended consequences that are sure to occur as a result:
  1. A complete fuckup of the school bus system and an inabiltiy to children walk to school due to distance, thus leading to even larger amounts of congestion as parents drop their kids of at schools many miles away
  2. Extremely hacked off parents who just paid thousands of quid more for their house in order to get into a good school catchment area
  3. An increase in richer families withdrawing completely from the state system leading to
    1. an increase in private schools and hence demand for more teachers
    2. a corresponding decrease in the quality of state teachers because the private sector will hire the good ones
    3. a corresponding further decrease in the quality of the state education system
    4. even more middle class parents putting themselves in debt to get their children educated privately and thus withdrawing from the state system
    5. wash rinse repeat.
In other words if the ZANU labour government wanted to see an even greater domination of top university places by independent schools and an even greater chasm between the prospects of the haves and the have nots it would be hard to think of a better one.

Fortunately though ZANU labour has a way to get around this as Simon Heffer explains:

The party has done absolutely nothing for private schools since 1997, except heap regulations on them and bully and threaten them about the possible loss of their charitable status. While we are on the subject, the injustice and the insanity of removing charitable status would be immense. Most private schools do considerable work for their communities. They share their facilities, offer in some cases huge bursaries to poor but clever children, and take an enormous burden off the state. They did all this, by the way, long before the Government began bullying them. If charitable status went, a huge proportion of schools would go with it, and the state sector would implode.

If you remove the charitable status on independent schools and you thereby force the fees they have to charge to rise to even more stratospheric levels and therefore force parents to either indebt themselves ruinously or return to the state system which will not be able to handle the sudden influx of new pupuls.

The only slight silver lining to this cloud is that, just possibly, the guardianistas will be as affected by the resulting chaos as everyone else so perhaps they'll vote for someone else and insist on a saner education policy and high standards of teaching. But don't hold your breath, the ability of the guardianista class to blame their woes on anything and everything other than their own cherished policy ideals is almost as good as that of their favourite middle eastern group - the Palestinians.

10 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

ETA takes propaganda lessons from the PLO

That's the only explanation I can think of for the fact that even after admitting that they bombed Madrid Airport, ETA claims that the ceasefire still holds:

"Eta confirms that the permanent ceasefire declared on March 24 still stands and claims responsibility for the Madrid attack," the group said in what many will see as an extraordinary statement made to Gara, a pro-independence Basque newspaper which frequently serves as a mouthpiece for Eta.

But that isn't all, in an act of chutzpah that even the Palestinians generally eschew, it also manages to blame the Spanish authorities for the fact that two people were killed:

"The aim of this armed attack was not to cause victims and [Eta] condemns the fact that the car park was not evacuated despite three calls, more than an hour beforehand, giving exact details of the location of the explosive device," the statement read. Eta said it wanted to promote the peace process but reserved the right to "respond" to government "aggression" against the pro-independence movement.

As EURSOC says we can only hope that the Spanish authorities show some sort of spine in response, something that has nto hitherto been a feature of the Zapatero government, but which may possibly be given the comments of the interior minister.

10 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Baked Bean Maths

To go along with the Verizon Maths noted a couple of days ago here we present proof that the English and the French apparently measure/count things differently.

If you can't see the images click on them to enlarge or just take my word for the fact that the labels are inconsistent. In the English ingredients Beans are 51% and Tomatoes are 33%. In the French version we have only 49% Haricots blancs (beans) and 27% Tomates. I'd be curious to see what proportions are in Heinz baked beans bought in other countries and I'd love to know what the explanation for this state of affairs is.

PS the French label is stuck on top of the English ingredients so it can't (in this case) be due to Heinz having different recipes for different countries.

12 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Friday Olive Tree Blogging

The mimosas are starting to bloom so here is one next to an olive tree in a neighbour's garden

For a close up see my fotolog page and as always click on the image to see it enlarged and click here to see the rest of the series.

12 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

EU promises economic depression

That isn't how they spin it, but the EU's attempts at reducing vehicle emissions seem almost certain to cause much pain to the EU's motor trade and could well cause significant unemployment and result in the closing of car plants. Western Europe's manufacturers are already under some pressure from foreign rivals, from Toyota and Hyundai to low cost Eastern European planst such as Renault's Dacia Logan. The Wapping Liar's Parisian correspondent, Charles Bremner; had a blog post about the decline of the French manufacturers and, while his points do not necessarily cross over the Rhine, the Channel or the Alps I think there remain a number of common points. To go back to the EU though, the Torygraph article reports that:

Gas-guzzling sports cars, 4x4s and people carriers could be priced off the road within five years after a crackdown on carbon emissions to be announced by the European Commission this month.

The average new car in 2012 will have to emit no more than 120 grams of carbon per kilometre under proposals to be announced by Stavros Dimas, the European Environment Commissioner. The rule change could add more than £3,300 to the cost of a vehicle.

I think that this is actually incorrect and the fact that the EU can't understand this is liable to lead to
  1. a continuing failure to meet emissions targets
  2. a severe economic downturn
Why? Let me runs some numbers. If £3,300 (€5000, US$6500) is required to be added to the price of a new vehicle then the hit will be on the sales of lower priced cars not the higher ones. People who can afford £30,000 chelsea tractors can afford a 10% increase to a £33,300 version of the same (worst case they skip a few of the extras and only pay £32,000) however people who are in the market for a £10,000 little runabout are going to look for a second hand car instead of a new one since £13,300 is a massive 33% increase. This means that the sector that is likely to be hit hardest is the mass market one not the high end. Furthermore no one doubts that Western European vehicle workers are extremely costly - recall VW's recent negotiations to try and reduce their labour costs - so this means that imported vehicles with lower labour costs are going to be more attractive. Am I going to go for a French built Peugeot when a Hyundai offers similar features for €2000 less? In other words the most likely result of the EU's planned regulations is for the low/mid western European vehicles - the Peugeots, Citroens, VWs, Fords and Opels - to lose market share compared to rivals made elsewhere. They could still be badged Opel or Renault or VW but they won't be built by workers who only work 30 hours a week, take over 30 hours to build a car and get paid top end wages to do so.

Funnily enough people in Europe won't simply find a way to fork out an extra £3,300 (€5000, US$6500) just to keep their fellow Europeans in jobs. In fact I'd say that it isn't so much won't as can't. Rather than buy a new fuel efficient car I would anticipate more and more people buying used cars thereby reducing the sales of new cars significantly. If the motor industry in Europe sees a 10% drop in new car sales and a 20% drop in new cars built in Western Europe then there will be a few thousand job losses because someone is going to have to close a factory or three. Thus we will see a major economic impact because the closure of a car factory affects far more than those directly employed by it and, unlike in the USA,

Just for example, I present myself. I just went shopping for a car and decided on a €7000 10 year old Honda CRV because I got a lot more vehicle in good condition that I would if I bought a new one. A roughly equivalent new Honda would be well over €20,000 (actually looking at Yahoo it would be more like €30,000).

This is important not just because of the job impact but also because it hurts the emissions - a new CRV has emissions of 192 g/km compared to the Prius' 104g/km and my 10 year old CRV undoubtedly has worse emissions and fuel efficiency than a brand new one would have. I wouldn't be surprised if an older one is up at the 250 g/km range. But even with fuel prices at the levels they were this summer the cost of using say 1l/100km less in fuel would only save me money if I drove something like 1 million km.
[sums. 1l fuel costs €1.25. Assume new car costs €20,000. Hence €13,000 more expensive. €13,000 buys 10,400l of fuel. Saving 1l for every 100km driven means that  I have to drive 10,400 x 100 = 1,040,000km to start saving]

Since I actually drive a bit under 20,000km/year this would imply keeping the car for 50 years or more. Ahh, you say but instead of a new CRV I could have bought a new something else. Well yes but the Honda garage offered a new Honda Civic for arounf €14,000. Assume that that car saves me 4l/100km compared to the CRV and we are still looking at my needing to drive 140,000 km or so before we get any savings i.e. at least 7 and more like 10 years of my average driving.

I have no idea what a new super efficient Prius goes for - I didn't bother asking at the Toyota garage in Le Cannet - but I'd be surprised if it sells for less than €20,000 and Yahoo reckons €22,740 is the cheapest. Allegedly it has fuel consumption in the 5l/100km range. I expect my CRV will be doing about double that (10l/100km) but with the price difference being the equivalent of over 10,000 more litres of fuel we're looking at a minumum of 200,000 km (or ten years) before I see an economic benefit. Of course I have a car with double the CO2 pollution of the Prius so I'll be chucking an extra 2 tonnes more CO2 into the atmosphere but the price difference makes that kind of eco-friendly behaviour unaffordable.

Oh and I'm sure someone might say I should take public transport. I want the car primarily for trips where public transport is impossible; for example the first major trip I do with the car will be to Barcelona for 3GSM. This is (roughly) a 6 hour drive. It is possible to take a train but there is only one practicable train journey a day and it takes 11 hours from Cannes (and I'd have to add another hour for getting to Cannes from my house). Another journey I'm likely to do is to go to Milan. 4 hours by car vs 6+ by train. Even travelling to Nice takes 1hour vs 30 minutes by train (and is slower by bus) and so on. I could of course fly to Barcelona, but not only is that inconvenient because I still have to get to the airport, everyone seems to think that flying is worse for the environment so it is probably better to drive for 650km.

12 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Why not talk to them?

BBC World, that mostly inferior attempt to mirror CNN, can almost always be counted on to get the tranzi message across. Yesterday we switched it on momentarily to get the headlines and sports news (Becks off to La La land?) and had the joy of listening to a trailer for some program about "alternative ways to deal with radical Islamists" which went on somethng like (E&OE): "Under George Bush, America has spent billions trying to root out Islamic terrorists and things seem to be getting worse so perhaps its time for an alternative strategy - why not talk to them?"

Sure it sounds simple - just like the statement that "if no one had a gun no one would be shot". But just as with the latter it fails to stand up under serious scrutiny. The "no guns" rule fails because of the impossibility of removing all guns from circulation and because shootings are not the only way that criminals commit violence - hence the new demand to remove all knives, scissors, needles and anything else that might "put your eye out".

"Why not talk to them?" doesn't work because it assumes that the radical Islamists are willing to peacably share the world with people who are not subscribers to their particular faith. If you listen to the tapes of Al Qaeda leaders and other fellow Islmaist raving nutters, it is pretty clear that their demands are:
  1. Establishment of a pan-Islamic caliphate (ruled by TBD but not someone who wins a democratic election) over all lands ever occupied by Muslims
  2. No non-muslims anywhere in the caliphate, especially no Jews
  3. Outside of the caliphate muslims to be subject to Sharia law only
  4. No muslim to be offended by anything a non-Muslim says, publishes, does or wears (or doesn't wear) ever
Even the BBC would have a problem actually living under such strictures but they and their fellows prefer to claim that these are merely negotiating ploys and that if we sit down and talk then the real Islamist position will moderate to something less extreme. I do not understand where they get this idea from.

In Iran the mullahs have persecuted non-Muslims very greatly and have insisted on dress codes, speech codes and the vetting of candidates for elections such that anyone who desires to express a contrary opinion is tortured, executed or exiled. In many cases it seems that merely being a woman is offensive. In Afghanistan under the Taleban much the same applied: sports, movies and education on subjects other than memorizing the Koran were banned. In Somalia the recently overthrown UIC attempted to stop movies, women working and so on. In Saudi Arabia the Islamists consider that the regime is decadent because it lets in some movies etc. even though it cracks down on women and anyone stupid enough to deny Islam. In other nations from Indonesia to Nigeria we see similar claims and attempts, we even see Muslims in Paris, Minnesota, Luton and Toronto trying to create areas of Sharia law where the unbelievers must abide by Muslim laws and codes of behaviour. A prominent Australian Imam has also said all sorts of controversial things when in Egypt that seem to counter his more conciliatory statements made in Australia etc.

In other words talking to Islamist terrorists (or their supporters) is not the same as talking to the IRA or Maoists in Nepal and until they started taking lessons was different to talking to ETA or the Tamil Tigers. You can talk but they use the talking period to rearm and/or get concessions from you without makign any attempt to implement any matching concessions of their own. Then when you compain that they haven't implemented their concessions they charge you with the same crime and attack with no warning. In other words there isn't much point to talk with the Islamists. We know what they want, they won't be convinced to give it up by words and there is nothing we can do

Important PS - talking to Muslims is not the same as talking to Islamists. I'm fine with the idea of talking to Muslims and ensuring that (for example) they aren't discrimminated against. But I also want them, in return, to not discrimminate either. From the evidence in Afghanaistan, Somalia and Iran it seems clear that many Muslims, even devout ones, hate the idea of living under an Islamist theocracy. But we must not mistake talking to self-selected "community leaders" of the radical persusion to be talkign to "Muslims", nor should we tolerate them complaining about our insensitivity to their "beliefs" when they show no toleration of others.

Unimportant PS - I personally feel that terrorist truce-breaking should receive drastic retaliation along the lines of that meted out by the Mongols to people who killed ambassadors. For example if they terrorists broke a truce and had been hopig that certain captured terrorists be released I'd start publically executing the captured terrorists one by one. Since I'm a total bastard I'm try and come up with a way for them to execute themselves by (for example) giving them small suicide bomb belts that would only explode under certain conditions but ensuring that the terrorists would be forced (eventually) to encounter said conditions.

13 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Aristocratic Titles 4 All

Via Zoe I have discovered that:
My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
His Highness Francis the Inchoate of Divine Intervention
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title
I rather like that...

17 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Yo Cancer Charities - What's Your Excuse?

The Englishman's Castle draws my attention to this.

It is rare to find a drug that sweeps away decades of assumptions and reveals a radical approach to treating all forms of a disease. But a simple, small molecule called dichloroacetate (DCA) has done just that - and to that most dreaded of diseases: cancer.

The new findings, might also force a rethink on what actually causes cells to turn cancerous in the first place.


There's a hitch: dichloroacetate is an old drug and so cannot be patented. The upshot is that pharmaceutical companies can’t stop rivals making and selling it more cheaply, so it’s not worth their while to go to the huge expense of testing it in clinical trials.

This is not a new problem. Many drugs are left on the shelf because companies cannot make lots of money from them. It has happened for diseases that affect mainly poor people, such as TB, although there are now an increasing number of initiatives to help deal with these cases. But cancer is historically a disease that chiefly afflicts the rich, and testing DCA will need a one-off effort.

The claim seems to be only lartge pharmaceutical companies can run drug trials. Apparently because only drug companis can afford the money. You will excuse me if I call "Bullshit" on that. Why cannot charities such as Cancer Reseach UK not run the trial? They spent £257 million on scientific research in 2005/6. Drug trials cost a few million per year to run and this one would seem to be right up their street. One hopes some charity will step up to the plate and fund this research before too long.

17 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

IKEA Mougins & Traffic Jams

The debate about the proposed IKEA store in "Mougins" is still ongoing although those against it seem to be losing. I blogged about this in October where I explained that the Mayor of Mougins loves it because it won't affect his village while the Mayour of Mouans Sartoux hates it because it will exacerbate the dire traffic problems in that village. Many of us in the area have wondered why this site had to be chosen and wondered why IKEA could not fit in near Carrefour in Nice Lingostière, we wonder even more now that it has been announced that this park is going to be expanded.

The problem with the IKEA Mougins idea, one skated over in the presentations at the pourIkeaMougins blog, is that it is a bit of a Hotel California - i.e. its relatively easy to enter but nearly impossible to leave. Using a map captured from one of the presentations allow me to explain:
Map of the proposed IKEA mougins
As you can see entry from the penetrante - the big road at the bottom - is at least separated from other traffic because there is a separate slip road. Unfortunately, as you can see from all the other routes, getting back onto the penetrante is going to involve negotiating two or three roundabouts as will shoppers who wish to head off in other directions. Given that one can assume that plenty of other people will be passing up and down the yellow road - it's the main way to get to MOuans Sartoux from the penetrante, and turns into a traffic jam at the other end anyway at busy periods - the addition of traffic exiting IKEA is likely to be a horrble mess.

The yellow marked road in the image is in fact the road where a successful illustration of the traffic problems took place in october. As reported in the Nice Matin (according to a post near the bottom of this thread), a mere 250 protestors attmepting to drive to the spot at the same time caused a massive jam that spread all over the place.

The fact that many people will not come via the penetrante just makes things worse. I attempt to avoid driving though the middle of Mouans Sartoux at any time because you can frequently walk faster than the cars move (trust me I've done it and sat in jams watching others do it), but if you live in Valbonne, Biot, Le Rouret, Roquefort, Opio, Chateauneuf or even parts of Mougins, the preferred way to get to IKEA will be to drive on one of the red routes in the map of the surroundings illustrated below (from google):
Routes to Ikea Mougins through Mouans Sartoux
The green arrow is approximately the centre of Mouans Sartoux and the location of the biggest jam - see that T junction in red? The dotted red route avoids the T junction jam for people coming down from Plascassier but has other problems, such as vicious speed bumps because of the residential neighbourhood and going past the Casino Supermarket and Botanic garden centre. Also fun, and something I discovered today by accident, my GPS and, I expect, many others, think that the green dot is the main way to/from Pascassier. It isn't and is in fact a road that is blocked off in the middle. I have no idea what a bunch of people trying to follow their satnavs with the wrong directions will to to the traffic but I wouldn't expect it to be good.

I was, generally speaking, in favour of having an IKEA nearby - thanks to the map from pourIkeaMougins I am now against it because I believe the Mayor of Mouans Sartoux is actually correct. The IKEA proposal as it currently stands will make the already dire traffic situation in the village worse. How could I change my mind? Two or three things
  1. A dedicated on and off ramp for IKEA completely separate from the D409 roundabout that allows traffic in both to/from the coast AND to/from Grasse on the penetrante
  2. Adding another on ramp to the penetrante near Auchan (La Paoute) so that some of the traffic from Chateauneuf, Opio and inland can avoid driving through the middle of Mouans Sartoux
  3. Finding a way to build soem kind of a bypass for traffic from Plascassier to get to the Penetrante and/or IKEA
3 is damn near impossible, 2 is tricky but 1 should be simple and, IMO, is the most critical one of all anyway.

18 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Getting The News From The Bills & Michaels

(not to mention Michelle, Bryan...)
As the Instapundit notes there have been a lot of bloggers heading to Iraq and other troublespots. Oddly many of them seem to be called Bill (Roggio, Ardolino) or Michael (Yon, Totten). What is interesting is that they offer very different reports to those produced by the MSM in the same spots. Not that all the MSM reporters are bad or biased, though there seems to be a fair number that are, but that the MSM rarely provides the proper context.

To take an example, during the Israel-Lebanon conflict this summer (or in its aftermath) did any MSM journalist in Lebanon go and interview Sayyed Mohammad Ali El Husseini as Michael Totten did?And did any bother to go into Southern Lebanon and talk to non Shias? as far as I can tell no one has done the former, but I see that Reuters just sent someone down to a Sunni village to report that Hezbollah is rather less than universally loved there.

The same goes for the reporters from Iraq. Even ignoring the fact that the MSM frequently seems to employ stringers who are, how to put it delicately, less than perfectly non-partisan, the problem real problem with the MSM coverage is that they don't explain why Iraqis (and others) do the things they do. They don't seem to talk to people, or if they do they only report short soundbites and they very rarely explain who the people they talk to are and what biases they might have. In other words they omit the critical details that allow the intelligent reader to understand what is going on. They also, demonstrably, seem unable to actually talk to the US military or understand how the Military thinks. Nor do they explain the context between individual attacks, prefering to jam together into one article a laundry list of bombs, IEDs, executions etc. with no surrounding detail. The result is you get the feeling that the whole of Iraq is a terrible mess when clearly that is not the case with large chunks of it being peaceful.

It is reflections on the difference in quality level that makes me realize how limited the MSM is, by pandering to a lowest common denominator in their coverage they fail to provide meaningful coverage for anything. Fortunately it seems like we now have an alternative.

18 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

No Parliament For You English Pigdogs!

The Maximum Tone has responded to the petition for an English Parliament thusly:

There are no plans to establish a separate parliament for England. The four components of the United Kingdom have their own histories and distinct national identities, as well as different administrative structures, size and population.

As a result, the Government believes that different approaches and solutions are appropriate to address the differences that exist between the components that comprise the United Kingdom. The starting point for England is not the same as it was in Scotland and Wales.

The Government believes that the establishment of an English Parliament would not be of real benefit to the people of England. As the population of England accounts for 84 per cent of the UK population, this would mean that an English Parliament would only be slightly smaller than the current UK Parliament.

Such a move would not, therefore, contribute significantly towards bringing people in England closer to the decision making process, which is one of the cornerstones of devolution. The Government therefore has no plans at present to provide for an English Parliament.

Allow me to paraphrase. If the English get a parliamentof their own they'll stop funding the celtic fringe and won't vore for me or my ZANU labour buddies. As it is, it is only by the grace of the solid number of North British labour MPs that this government hasn't already hit serious problems and by god we're not stupid enough to make it worse, especially when its only too clear that "bringing people in England closer to the decision making process" would result in a boatload of our freeloading pals being chucked out on their ears without a pension.

19 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Friday Olive Tree Blogging

(with bonus cat blogging)
Our cat, Inu, loves this particular olive tree as a place to perch and watch the world go by.

As always click on the image to see it enlarged and don't forget to see the rest of the series if you've missed them.

19 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Revisiting the CBI

Last year I wrote a couple of posts outlining how a Citizens Basic Income of £100/week would be affordable for the UK economy. Interestingly, via TimW, I see that the Torygraph reports on a release from the Office for National Statistics about family spending in the UK. For reasons that seem bizarre the Torygraph goes on about the amount the average family spends on gambling, what is more interesting to my mind are the averages for different houshold sizes (XLS file).

The table below has its raw data taken from the ONS Excel sheet (with one correcttion) and is rounded to the nearest 10p or %
Household Type Number Average amount
Average amount
Pensioner (state) 1 £134.60 £134.60 74% £100
Pensioner couple (state) 2
£244.50  £122.30 82% £200
Pensioner (private) 1 £175.70 £175.70 57% £100 57%
Pensioner couple (private) 2
£350.30 £175.20 57% £200 57%
Single Person
£288.20 £288.20 35% £100 35%
Couple 2
£527.30 £263.60 38% £200 38%
Sinple Parent single child 2
£293.30 £146.60 68% £150 51%
Single Parent multi chuldren 3.5
£349.80 £101.10 99% £275 79%
Couple plus child
£559.60 £279.80 36% £250 45%
Couple plus two children
£641.60 £160.40 62% £300 47%
Couple plus more children 5.3
£669.70 £125.20 80% £315 47%
Multi Adult 3.4
£645.90 £191.30  52%
£340 53%
Multi adult multi children 5.1
£744.40 £144.60 69% £350 47%
Key to columns:
The number column is the average number of members of the household (and hence this is a fraction for the multi cases)
The CBI% column calculates percentage of expenditure covered by the CBI using a raw CBI based on the idea that every man, woman or child gets a flat £100/week each.
The CBI(v) is the amount a family receives when each child's contribution is split 50% cash, 50% education voucher and the CBI(v)% column calculates percentage of expenditure covered by the CBI using the CBI(v) option.

As you can see even the poorest class (state pension couples) would either require something other than a CBI in order to survive at their current expenditure level or would be forced to economise somewhat. On the other hand it also shows that most households would need little more than a 20 hour/week job at a post tax £10/hour for each adult in addition to the CBI to cover all their expenses - alternatively each adult could work 39.6 hours at the statutory minimum wage (£5.05). In fact by my calculations the only non-pensioner household type that would not be able to meet their obligations in this manner would be the single parent multi-child version if the chldren get 50% of their CBI in voucher form (and possibly the multi adult households where some of the adults are non-working pensioners).

Since, as the Torygraph bemoans, a good deal of the expenditure is on luxuries and frivolities I think it is fairly clear that the CBI would be a successful substitute for almost all state benefits as those who had no other source of income would simply be forced to cut back on discretionary spending. Where it could be a problem of course is for pensioners who have no other savings bar the state pension and who therefore would be forced to cut down on those pub meals and other "discretionary items" that probably aren't terribly discretionary. As far as I can tell this would affect about 1.5M people or about 2.5% of the UK population. I'd welcome some thoughts on how to deal with this shortfall of about £30/state pensioner/week or £50m/week or around £2500 million in total each year. A £2/worker/week additional tax on all workers might do the trick but I'd prefer a non-governmental solution that doesn't also involve the pensioners starving or freezing to death.

PS Kudos to the ONS for their website and availability of the data. I'm not sure we need this data but it is at least readily accessible and the PDF helpfully contains links to Excel spreadsheets for each table. The one correction noted above is that the Excel sheet thinks that "a couple plus child" consists of 2 people not 3.
Non-kudos to the Torygraph for not linking to the ONS page.

26 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

Friday Olive Tree Blogging

Grey skies, sliver olive trees (asl at my Fotolog page). One of the things that amazes me about olive trees is how they change colour in different light. This photo was from a couple of weeks ago but we had a similar show yesterday too.

As always click on the image to see it enlarged and do look at the rest of the series if you've missed them.

PS Apologies for the sparse blogging, the press of paying work has led to a dearth of free time.

28 January 2007 Blog Home : All January 2007 Posts : Permalink

IKEAsphyxie in Mouans Sartoux

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the planned IKEA development nearby. Yesterday the mayor of Mouans Sartoux (the village most affected by the development) organized a fairly large "manifestation" to protest the development and his fear that the village of Mouans Sartoux would be "Ikeasphyxie"ated by the development. As I wrote last time, I was generally in favour of the Ikea idea but have become far less in favour now that I see the actual development plans.

The problem is not directly NIMBYism, I'd like something IKEA on my doorstep (more or less) when it comes to buying stuff, it's just that I think the plan is misguided and ignores the traffic chaos that will likely result. In fact if you look at the plans over at the pro Ikea blog, you see that they are spending loadsa money to cover the car parks and make the thing look nice but hardly spending any money on building sensible traffic access points. This, to put it bluntly, is stupid. The area where the IKEA is to be built is not, to put it bluntly, one of the jewels of the Alpes Maritimes, rather it is an area already somewhat blighted by ugly warehouses and other light industry. Thus landscaping Ikea is almost as sensible as the mayor of Grasse's blowing of road repair money beautifying roundabouts in the middle of industrial/commercial areas.

Hence, as I say, the reason why I have more sympathy for the anti-Ikea group, and the mayor of Mouans Sartoux is undoubtedly one of the leading members of this camp. Of course I have little doubt that were the Ikea development to be positioned within the municipal boundaries of Mouans Sartoux rather than about 50m away across the road in Mougins his protests would diminsh significantly. But the map below from the newsletter sent out about the protest shows why most inhabitants of Mougins don't care about the traffic issues and those in Mouans Sartoux do.
Map of ikea site
The red shaded areas are the village centers for Mouans Sartoux and Mougins respectively. Only the people in the section of Mougins that abuts Mouans Sartoux (the quartier St Martin) are against Ikea and they in fact feel susfficiently aggrieved by the plan as to be petitioning to transfer themselves from Mougins to Mouans Sartoux. This would, in my opinion make sense and would probably result in the Ikea developmentitself becoming part of Mouans Sartoux, which would be ironic.

Anyway, yesterday we had at least 1000 people gathering in Mouans Sartoux to protest against the proposal. We were told to come in black mourning and to be creative, the protestors certanly did that as the pictures below show.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin