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Scrapbook for May 2018

Posted on UTC 2018-05-01 02:01.

30.05.2018 – Site changes

The Google Site Search used up to now on this site has been discontinued by Google. It has now been migrated to the new Google Custom Search engine. Users should notice nothing, except that the search now works correctly for the first time in six months.

24.05.2018 – Yulia Skripal

Yesterday the entire house of cards that is the official story of the 'Putin ordered' assassination attempt on Sergei and Yulia Skripal – we wrote about the case here, here and here – collapsed in one interview and a hand-written statement from Yulia:

In the longer term I hope to return home to my country. I wish to address a couple of issues directly and have chosen to interrupt my rehabilitation to make this short statement.

I ask that everyone respects the privacy of me and my father. We need time to recover and come to terms with everything that has happened.

I'm grateful for the offers of assistance from the Russian Embassy but at the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services.

Also, I want to reiterate what I said in my earlier statement: that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves.

She very sensibly also gave her statement in Russian on video, meaning that no one can say that the written English statement does not reflect her wishes.

The May government really has some explaining to do. Yulia's video and statement is deservedly all over the media – the MailOnline is just one example.

20.05.2018 – Yet more on the GDPR

Nearly every website in the world uses cookies. It was an EU regulation a few years ago intended to 'protect us' online that forced every such website to obtain the acceptance of the user to the setting of cookies.

Everyone knows that this acceptance is bogus. It has simply become a massive and pointless irritant for website visitors. The fact that in general a cookie has to be set in order to persist the visitor's acceptance or non-acceptance from page to page is one of those ironies that would amuse – were we not so irritated by this nonsense.

Now that the EU's GDPR directive has finally landed in the 'TO DO ASAP' tray, even our Solon's are beginning to realise what chaos this latest pie-in-the-sky ruling will cause. John Redwood:

It has led to months of work and much opportunity for consultants and lawyers, as businesses scramble to ensure they are fully compliant. Most are already careful in the way they keep and handle data about people they deal with, but need to demonstrate they handle it in a specified way under the new law. I have no problem with the aim of the legislation, but this blockbuster of a law requires specific bureaucratic processes to handle data to be sure that a business that does handle data well is seen to do so.

19.05.2018 – The GDPR(?)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) takes effect on 25 May.

The Figures of Speech website neither collects, stores nor utilises any data concerning its visitors. We do not use scripting, cookies, tracking or any other such technique. We do not carry advertising, therefore there is no tracking, shadow-tracking, click-monitoring or anything like that.

Our hosting service logs the number of hits our server receives – a value so shamefully small that we prefer not to know it – 'all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare' (Spinoza). We are confident that the breakthrough into double figures will come sooner than anyone thinks.

This feature told us once, for example, that at two o'clock in the morning on 20 June 2017, 116,303 people visited our article on the Habsburg lip. It told us also, somewhat hurtfully, that almost the same number then left again – forever.

Google and Bing tell us that very, very occasionally, some mystified people have found our website listed in their search results but have usually been too discriminating to click on the entry. That we appear in search results at all is a bit of a surprise, since Google – as far as we can tell – is less than enthusiastic at listing us.

All in all, you are safe here. Bored, perhaps… but safe.

19.05.2018 – UK trade post-Brexit

One of the most interesting and worthwhile pieces of Brexit reporting has the misfortune to appear in MailOnline on someone's wedding day. It suffers the additional and unusual misfortune of being listed without its author's name.

The piece is by Robert Hardman, one of the Mail's leading journalists, whose technique is not to sit at a desk opining but to get out and go and see things for himself.

Hardman visited Felixstowe and took in the day-to-day running of a modern container port. The entire article is an easy and worthwhile read which puts the entire subject of post-Brexit trade into context. Here is a flavour:

Over the course of a year, four million container units —the great majority from outside the EU — will pass through Felixstowe on some of the world's biggest ships. Because they are mainly non-EU goods, they must be declared and processed.

As it happens, many EU containers in the same ships already go through this system because it is so painless and it just would be more complicated to separate them from the non-EU stuff.

And guess what? It all works like clockwork.

A further 250,000 containers currently come and go by lorry each year on the roll-on/roll-off ferries heading to and from the Netherlands.

Because they are travelling inside the EU and thus inside the customs union, these goods do not need to be declared. Post-Brexit they may need to be. In which case, they will have to comply with the same process as the other four million. It is not rocket science. In fact, it is not even particularly difficult.

Read it all.

18.05.2018 – Playing the Windsors

Thomas Markle, Meghan's father, is beginning to appear to be one of the few rational people involved in this Windsor wedding frenzy.

Sell yourself to the media and get your dicky heart fixed on the takings. No sponging off his newly rich daughter – very admirable! And since he is now recuperating from the heart repair, he gets out of attending the crazy wedding without any blame, too. Man's a genius.

10.05.2018 – Comment of the day

Seen somewhere:

I couldn't believe my ears listening to the news this morning: socialists and greens were demanding the construction of atomic power stations, until I realised they were talking about Iran.

05.05.2018 – That time of year when

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our aspen wakes up and brings forth strange, coppery, delicate leaves; when

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the main apple blossom appears, taking over from

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last week's blossom; when

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the meadows are covered in dandelions and buttercups; and of course when

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Snow White wakes up and does some gardening with her seventy dwarves – you can never have too many.

03.05.2018 – 999 blue balloons

Sensing the end of climate alarmism, the fright caravan has moved on to plastic. We pointed out at the end of last year that rich western countries bear little blame for the plastic that ends up in the seas. The villains are the people in the developing countries who have no notion of refuse disposal, let alone recycling.

With, of course, the exception of Liverpudlians and other virtue signallers, who dispose of it in the form of non-biodegradeable mylar or latex balloons into the environment on the least whim for the satisfaction of their emotional rages against the world:

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Report. The media find this a beautiful tribute – they see balloons going up, but never think of them coming down. Image: facebook.

If the wind is blowing to the east, in 5 km the balloons reach the Irish sea; in the other direction they probably end up on the grazing lands of central England or even in the North Sea.

In our advanced societies, dropping litter will get you fined if you are caught. Grumbling in such a situation is heartless, true, but people should not release balloons.

02.05.2018 – Site changes

The navigation structure on Figures of Speech has been changed. The month containers have been removed.

  • Advantage: less clicking around in recent articles; no more 'wall of titles' in the year containers.
  • Disadvantage: The year containers will take a little longer to load than the month containers did.

In the left-hand navigation, entries with sub-pages are now followed by [n], where 'n' is the the number of sub-pages.

The titles of the scrapbooks and quotes have been changed slightly.

No links to existing articles have been broken by this change. In the unlikely event that someone has bookmarked a month container, this will still work, but should really be changed.