A Golden Dawn?

marine-le-pen-en-croisade-contre-l-abattage-des-mammiferes-sans-etourdissement-prealable-photo-jeanQ: If Celtic amassed 99 points and only lost 1 game in the whole season how many draws did they have?

This was a mental arithmetic question me and my 13 year old son raced to solve. No calculator, no Google allowed.

He beat me and by a very healthy margin at that. As he gleefully danced around I sulked and rapidly changed the subject.

So numbers, they are important things, if they didn’t exist I wouldn’t have a job and most of the things we take for granted probably wouldn’t exist, including the internet I would imagine.

The European elections threw up some strange and some would say worrying results in the last week or so. A number of euro sceptic and populous groups ranging from Greece’s Golden Dawn to the French National front and of course our very own UKIP all took more seats than anticipated.

And of course the press are all over it.

But is it really as troubling as the papers make out? Looking at the numbers I would suggest not. Of the 751 seats up for grabs, the conventional pro-European parties won 467. Another 100 were taken by the greens (who are ultra pro Europe) and the UK’s Conservative party who really don’t know if they are or they aren’t.

This left 140 seats to be divvied up amongst the real anti-Europe parties – or less than 20%.

Given that UKIP consider the French National front racist and will not work with them and both parties consider the Golden Dawn crew as fascists its very unlikely we will be seeing some form of coalition of anti-European parties anytime soon.

So no, the elections won’t make a blind bit of difference, at least not from a legislation perspective and I doubt the EU will be crumbling any time soon.

Personally though, I don’t think the shockwaves, real or otherwise, coming from these elections are a such a bad thing.

It’s given Nigel Farage more airtime on the telly which can only be good and I also think the debate it has started is a healthy one.

Immigration: good or bad?

Well firstly I live in Switzerland, a country whose immigration policies seem to have been modelled on that of North Korea. So I am just not as exposed to the hordes of funny foreigners invading my neighbourhood as some other European countries might be.

That said I do think immigration is a good thing.

The economic outlook for Britain is healthy. I read somewhere that by 2022 the UK will overtake Germany as the economic power house of Europe. With an aging population, a huge public sector and a crumbling NHS how will it reach these dizzy heights?

Immigration that’s how.

The overwhelming majority of immigrants to any country go there for economic reasons, ie. they want to work. And when you work you pay tax and the companies who employ these workers also pay tax (unless you are Starbucks of course). It’s a very simple equation, if the jobs are created in the UK, the UK needs immigration otherwise the jobs will emigrate along with the tax…

So in my book immigration is good.

The headlines might scream about an army of thieving gypsies invading London but at a macro level this is just false. Britain has far from the most immigrants (6.6% of total population). Germany for example has nearly 9%. We are more than some and less than others.

In short we are nothing special and certainly not unique. Nor are we the most attractive country to run to and live off the benefits. No, the immigration into the UK is normal and I would argue not unwelcome. But then again, I don’t live there.

Until recently UKIPs membership has had an odd demographic. It was heavily weighted towards the baby boomers which generally means they are older. This is the demographic in society who reminisce about a Britain long since gone. A simpler Britain. When foreigners were just people who served you drinks on holiday, spoke funny and couldn’t make a proper cup of tea. An old fashioned Britain of train journeys to the seaside and near to full employment.

But lets not forget this was also a Britain where Saville & Co could do what they liked with impunity and a business sector which was forced to its knees by power crazed unions.

But I can see the appeal of Mr Farage.

When compared to the other party leaders he’s a breath of fresh air. He speaks his mind, likes beer and  isn’t afraid of offending someone – hes an everyman. As much as I support conservative ideals, I see nothing of myself in David Cameron, he’s just a toff and a bit of a tit. Ed Milliband is the same but with the added hilarity of a Lego-man haircut.

I also don’t believe UKIP are racist as some would like to think. They are clearly not. In fact they have gone to extraordinary lengths to distance themselves from perceived racist comments and statements.

UKIP aren’t racist but what concerns me is their anti-Europe, anti-immigration stance will create and foster xenophobia. Building walls, restricting movement of ethnic groups of people and creating an inward looking insular society breeds such things.

Switzerland is not a xenophobic country per se but a large proportion of the population could be deemed to be so by any normal measurement. The success of the SVP party is testament to this.

The mainstream parties should thus take heed.

Even if the number of seats won’t change anything fundamental there is clearly a groundswell of support across Europe for such parties. They need to sit up and listen because if they don’t we might find someone like Nigel Farage in charge of our country.

Or even worse Marine Le Pen just across the channel.

And then we’re really in the shit.

***

A: 6 

Minging

miningThe British and Americans agree on most things and on a whole the similarities outweigh the differences.

When our cousins from over the Atlantic start to break away we generally hum and haw but eventually concede the point and adopt whatever new thing they have invented or telly show they are exporting.

The special relationship will always be maintained and who cares if we have to invent acronyms like WMD to keep it that way.

Obesity, regime change, hot tubs, Miller Lite, Dodge RAM trucks, self-proclaimed greatest nation on earth status to name but a few of the things the British have gleefully welcomed into our green and pleasant land. We have managed so far to resist the temptation to adopt bad spelling and then there is the obvious word and overused comedy routine differences; Fanny, Rubber, Pants.

Sticking with words for a second. I am probably biased but I do think British slang is so much more versatile than its American equivalent. I am basing this on the diet of American shows I have been fed since I was a small child and my infrequent trips over there so am also most likely wrong.

Take vagina as a good example. Now don’t worry I am not going to use the vocabulary version of a WMD, the C word, here. I do also believe it’s a common noun either side of the Atlantic.

It’s also a word which should only ever be used as a word of last resort.

Please don’t dilute it by adding it to your everyday lexicon.
The C word is a word I want to keep in my armoury and on the few occasions I do use it I expect it to have the impact it should have. Situations like two drunken men staggering down the street, one hugs the other and says ‘come here ya daft c**tya’ shouldn’t happen.

This is wrong, not because the C word has been used, in this case as a term of endearment, but because it is depriving the rest of us from using it properly.

When Richard Gere turns to Lisa Blount towards the end of An Officer and a Gentleman and calmly but firmly calls her a C**t, its powerful. Its strong. It makes you sit up. You understand what he’s feeling. You understand he had no choice to use it. This is it being used in the correct context.
Anyway I won’t be using that word here – that would definitely be inappropriate.

But back to vagina. It’s an antiseptic word, like haemorrhoids or renal. Words which should stay locked up tight in a doctor’s cupboard alongside the catheters and adult nappies.

In American English, as I understand it, there are only three ways to describe a vagina; the C word, pus*y and of course the medicinal Vagina.

In British English there are loads, the three shared ones and then hundreds of homemade ones. Probably.

If I had to have a favourite, then it would be ‘Minge’.

Not because it’s a nice sounding word, more that it’s one of the more perfect words out there. I guess its a derivation of Minger, meaning very ugly. i.e. ‘She’s a minger mate’. It could also be derived from the more general ‘Minging’ i.e. ‘wouldn’t go there, that toilet is minging’.

Even if you have never heard the word Minging I bet you would be off in search of a bush rather than find out how accurate it was.

The same goes for Minge and now that you know the meanings of Minging and Minger it’s not a huge leap to understand Minge if you hadn’t worked it out already. Yes it’s a bit distasteful but is perfect in the context of describing ‘that’ if it is infact a minge rather than, say, a pus*y.

I like all of the regional dialects. I like that in such a small country they tend to overlap and interbreed so, for example, it becomes perfectly normal for a Glaswegian weegie to use Cockney rhyming slang. People from Norfolk are a bit weird though.

One of the more confusing differences between the home of the free and the other 300+ equally as free countries in the world are numbers.

Now you would think, on the face of it, given their binary nature, should never be different. In fact the differences are vast. Just within the uneasy ménage e trois of the UK, the US and France there are huge differences.

For example let’s look at the next ‘big’ number which comes after a Trillion. Contrary to popular belief this is not a Gazillion, that’s a made up word apparently (yes really). It’s real name is a Quadrillion.

Or is it?

In American numbers it is but in British numbers the number ten with fifteen zeros after is has the perfectly understandable and logical name ‘Thousand Million’. The French version is called a ‘Billiard’ – don’t ask me why, you need to ask a Frenchman.

And the differences keep on coming.

Actually the only number which all three agree on is the Million.
Currency differences aside if you are a millionaire in the San Francisco, you would be one in Hull as well and you would also be one in Paris. There are no similarities though once we leave million behind.

I would like to say us Brits have got it right but I can’t.

When the Americans come up with the tongue twisting ‘Nonagintillion’ we go one better with a utterly undecipherable ‘Thousand quinquaquadragintillion’. At least we had the good grace to add Thousand before it but it doesn’t really help much. The French just drop the thousand and add ‘illiard’ to the end of most of them.

Just as an aside, adding ‘ard’ to the end of anything doesn’t add to its attractiveness. It will take some persuasion for me to play a game of Billiards. I like playing snooker, but Billiards sound horribly dull. Lard, well need I go on? It’s just not a good way to end a word.

My favourite number name if I had to pick one is the Googolplex. Not because of its name but because of what it represents. A googolplex is a number starting with 1 and ends with as many zeros as you can write before your hand gets tired. This was the brainchild of Milton Sirottathe 9year old nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner(ard). Its simplicity is its beauty, just don’t try measuring anything against it.

So my googolplex I would estimate to be somewhere in the region of a very British Thousand Octodecillion. My 4 year old son’s would be maybe a British billion or an American Trillion. Stephen Hawkins’s would be 1.

I like the idea of a googolplex even if from a mathematical standpoint its reliability is somewhat shaky. I like it because it speaks to the meaningless nature of such numbers. What is the point of having a name for a number with 336 zeros after it? (Sesquinquagintillion). And if you have to have a name, which I dispute, why not give it one you can actually pronounce.

But given such large numbers have no place in the real world why bother giving them names at all. If you need such a number, say if you feel the need to calculate the weight of a particularly aggressive planet eating black hole, what’s the added value of giving the resulting number a name. You are after all weighing black holes, can’t you just be happy with that?

Also whatever the resulting number is, who cares? ‘Really, a thousand quinquaoctogintillion kilos? Wow, that is heavy….(long embarrassing pause) ……anyway did you see the game on the telly last night? No? Too busy weighing everything huh? Right I’ll be off then’

Or how about simply saying it’s just heavy, or for added impact if you must try adding ‘very’ a few times and be done. Would work for me.

When it comes to actual banknotes and even in periods of super hyperinflation these numbers are still unnecessary. Upon gaining independence one US Dollar would buy you 0.8 of the newly created Zimbabwean Dollar. By 2006 with inflation standing at 11,000% one Dollar could buy you 688 trillion.

Even in such extreme situations it’s still going to be sometime before it becomes necessary to start figuring out how to pronounce or print Trestrigintillion.

I think numbers, like language will continue to be different wherever you are.

I am ok that the American Billion is now fairly well accepted as the global rule. This has been done out of necessity rather than for any other reason. Given Billion is a number which does exists in the real world there needed to be some common logic otherwise things could go wrong very easily and by eye-watering degrees as well.

I accept the French will never cease to keep adding ‘ard’ to the end of things so long as they accept this makes them a nation of Dull(ards).

I accept we Brits will continue to adopt everything American apart from the more clever things like language and numbers.

I am happy to see Dodge RAM trucks struggling to park in an NCP multi-story car park. I am content to think about sitting in a hot tub in the rain. I don’t mind my backside growing a little wider but I will never bring myself to drink a bottle of Miller Lite.

Cos its minging.

Skynet

skynet$23,698,655.93 is a large number.

A very large number indeed.

Its the sort of number which normally precedes the fantasy lottery game – what would I do if I won gazillions on the lotto? A big house? Boat? Aston Martin? Give some to the family, splash the cash then bugger off and live somewhere sunny where you look great and everyone laughs at your jokes.

Earlier this year this sum of money could have bought you one book.

A paperback book.

A not very rare paperback book.

A not very rare paperback book about the breeding habits of flies.

The world of Amazon went mad for a short while and created its own, single item, Tulip bubble, for Peter Lawrence’s The making of a Fly.

This was not the result of a deranged employee nor a devious student up to hi-jinx.

No this was the work of a faceless/nameless/emotionless algorithm, one which was programmed to set the pricing of products on Amazon.

Without wanting to keep typing the word algorithm I will, for the purposes of simplicity, call it ‘Skynet’

Skynet was originally programmed to ensure that the pricing of company A’s products was always priced slightly above company B’s pricing for the same product.

The reason for this was that company A did not actually have the product, in fact it had nothing other than Skynet and a bank account. It would buy the product from company B, ship the product to the purchaser and earn a small margin.

Company B’s Algorithm, lets call it Matrix, was also programmed to do the same thing and hey presto! We have a mirror, looking on a mirror, on a mirror, on a mirror…..

Skynet and Matrix slugged it out over a couple of days before someone, a human someone, called Sarah, stepped in and pulled the plug.

The result was a slightly overpriced book and an interesting insight into how computers are quietly ruling the world.

Imagine if Skynet was set loose on air traffic control, or oil production or city planning.

Imagine if someone allowed Skynet to take control of the military in country A and the Matrix was rolled out in country B?

I paid good money to watch Alien vs Predator and it was shite. I have heard that Cowboys vs Aliens is also not worth the admission fee.

Skynet vs Matrix anyone?