Found via Nosemonkey, this time-lapse map of European history is rather good:

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I’m reliably informed that if I want to be taken seriously as a blogger again, then I must post some predictions for things that will happen in the next year. So, here goes:

1) Wolves will be relegated for the Premiership. Even when relegation is mathematically certain, Mick McCarthy will insist that things can still be salvaged, and will still be sticking to this line when the team are playing in the Championship and being managed by someone else.

2) England will get to the final of the Cricket World Cup and lose. Yes, we’re good at cricket again, but if there’s one thing history shows us it’s that even good England teams lose World Cup finals. Probably to India this time.

3) The coalition won’t collapse and will still be there at the end of the year. As Anthony Wells says, ‘I think we all overestimate the chances of exciting and interesting things happening’ and the imminent collapse of the coalition has replaced the imminent split of the Tory Party and the imminent resignation of Tony Blair as the focus of fevered yet inaccurate political speculation.

4) David Cameron will carry out his first unforced Cabinet reshuffle. Probably a proper reshuffle, in that no Cabinet minister will actually be sacked (no matter how many pins get stuck into Eric Pickles voodoo dolls) but a few may be switched into lower-profile roles or have their departments shrunk beneath them.

5) Sarah Palin will announce she’s running for the Presidency of the US. And, oh my, it’s going to be fun…unless she looks like she has a chance of winning, and then it’ll just be scary.

6) The British media will continue to devote considerably more column inches to American politics than they will to anything happening in Europe. A critical Irish general election? Italy in continuing political crisis? The build up to a French Presidential election? Political fallout from the Eurozone bailout? Pah, who cares about that when there’s a crazy woman from Alaska to talk about!

7) The music media will hype a band up to the skies, who will turn out to be rubbish. This is pretty much a banker – and no, it’s not me showing my age, they’ve been doing this for years (remember Huggy Bear? Romo?) and then sneering at supposedly manufactured pop acts.

8) At least one TV series I like will be cancelled. Another given, just please don’t let it be Being Human.

9) Colin Firth will win the Oscar for Best Actor for The King’s Speech. Pure guesswork, as I haven’t seen the film yet but the combination of British royalty plus triumph over disability should be powerfully irresistible Oscar bait.

10 The last Space Shuttle flight won’t take place next year. The Shuttle programme is scheduled to fly its last mission next year, but I think it’ll get a last-minute reprieve as American politicians suddenly realise their national virility is under threat if they don’t have an operating space launch – after all, the last time that happened, Jimmy Carter was President!

So there we go – I look forward to not reviewing these next year when we discover that the Mayans were great at predicting a coming apocalypse, but were absolutely useless at making accurate calendars.

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Want to stop Tony Blair becoming President of the Council of the European Union? Well, if you’re not one of the 27 leaders in the Council who’ll make the decision (and if you are, please leave a comment) you don’t get a say in the process, so tough.

However, you can sign a petition here that already has over 30,000 people from across the EU opposing his appointment. There’s also one here on the Number 10 website, asking Gordon Brown to stop him though expecting that to happen seems an exercise in futility, though it might get some press interest if it could rise up the list of popular petitions.

And if you’re on Twitter, it looks like the hashtag of choice for this is either #stopblair, #no2blair or my suggestion of #noblair.

And for the record, I think there are good points to the creation of a permanent President and Foreign Minister, though there are flaws in the process by which they’re appointed. However, given the attitude Blair showed to international co-operation over Iraq, I think he’s spectacularly unsuited to the role and appointing him would cause great damage to the EU.

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Le Grand Depart

I had a nice day out in London yesterday – even if I did get a little sunburnt – watching the prologue time trial of the Tour de France. There are pictures here, and I even remembered who some of the cyclists were, so they’re not all nameless blurs in lycra.

For anyone complaining that Eurovision is a ‘fix’ and blighted by ‘block voting/neighbour voting’: if it’s such a massive problem that occurs year after year, why is it that Serbia are the first Balkan country to win the contest since 1989?

One detail that’s amused me in the aftermath of the French Presidential election is that Sarkozy, after telling the people of France they need to work harder and follow the pattern of the UK and the US more, has decided to spend the week between the election and his inauguration… on holiday with his family.

While there’s a certain sense behind the decision – it’s likely to be the last chance he has for a break for the next five years – it’s hard to imagine Gordon Brown telling the Queen she’ll have to wait because he’s off to the Algarve to topup his tan, or President-Elect McCain/Obama/Clinton/Giuliani ending their victory speech with ‘I’m going to Disneyland!’ next year.