UK

Columbo Theme Park to be built on South Atlantic Islands

 

Is the Penn mightier than the sword?

Peter "Columbo" Falk on the Falklands

The Hollywood actor Sean (A member of the Ex-Mr Madonna club along with Guy Ritchie and star of 1980s brat pack movies about college boys and girls behaving badly) Penn has come in for a bit of flack after his pro-Argentine anti-imperialist comments on the Falkland/Malvinas Islands.  Even Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has got in on the act.  The trouble is whenever celebrities make ill-advised forays into political or economic analysis, regardless of whose side they take they tend to get ridiculed.  And often rightly so.  After all if Barack Obama tried his hand at acting or if David Cameron attempted to make it as a rock musician they would no doubt be sneered at.

Who’d want to live on a cold wet wind-swept island in the Atlantic anyway?  I pose this question with deliberate irony as I type this, while looking out the window at the cold wet outdoors.

My solution is this.  Give the islands to Argentina as long as they undertake to build a theme park dedicated to the one-eyed Los Angeles homicide detective Lieutenant “Just one more thing…” Columbo, as played by the late Peter Falk.  It could be called the Falk-Land Islands Theme Park.

 

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What is a liberal intellectual anyway?

The Guardian (12 December 2008), has a profile of the Candian MP and academic, Michaell Ignatieff, better known on this side of the Atlantic as a former columnist with the Observer and broadcaster in the 1990s. Currently leader of the Canadian Liberal Party Ignatieff is hotly tipped by certain quarters to be Canada’s next prime minister.

The piece ends with an observation from editor of Prospect magazine David Goodhart:

“If he does make it to the premiership,as Goodhart points out, he will become the fourth leader of a major English-speaking country, after Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and Australia’s Kevin Rudd, who could be classified as a liberal intellectual.”

An intersesting (even if meaningless) point. What exactly constitutes a liberal intellectual is unclear though. However the changes of government in the US and Australia certainly bear testament to this. Obama’s predecessor could not by any stretch of the imagination be described as liberal or intellectual in any sense of either word. Rudd’s predecessor John Howard, although a member of the Liberal party could hardly be described as “liberal” with a small L, and certainly not an intellectual.

Apart from the four countries mentioned there are few others in the English-speaking world which could be called “major”. It’s fairly safe to assume to Goodhart would not list Brian Cowen’s 26 county republic as a major English-speaking country. In any case there would no doubt be howls of laughter in the Dail and beyond if Biffo, or his predecessor Bertie were to be classified as liberal intellectuals..

John Bull enslaved by Uncle Sam

The plight of Gary McKinnon who has lost his appeal against extradition from the UK to the US after hacking into top secret US security files is now the subject of a blog to campaign for justice against this ridiculous decision. McKinnon now faces a long sentence in the US, a punishment completely disproportionate to the crime. A ingenious letter highlighting the hypocrisy of the the US securocrats was published in The Independent a few weeks ago.  Its writer, PJ Parkins of Lancaster denounces the master-servant relationship between the US and UK and argues that the Americans should be grateful to McKinnon for exposing the flaws in their IT security arrangments, pointing out that if a computer nerd can find out such military secrets, it can’t be that difficult for the Russians and the Chinese.

But this paragraph (with no disrespect to reasonable-minded, rational-thinking Americans) says it all:

“However, intelligence organisations that could not work out why people of Middle Eastern appearance would want to learn how to fly aircraft, but not land them, that thought that allowing Vietnam to become a united country would produce a communist domino effect in south-east Asia, and went to war because of non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, are hardly likely to win many marks in an IQ contest. Remember, this is the nation that has vast numbers of people who believe in creationism.”