The Plastic Hippo

September 1, 2017

Trust in me


Even when a mature democracy becomes a little dog-eared around the edges and the very definition of democracy presents wear and tear in more urgent need of refurbishment than a crumbling Palace of Westminster, the basic premise of the relationship between the governed and the government is based almost entirely on trust.

Consider who one should trust in a head-to-head between David Davis and Michel Barnier. Obviously Barnier is foreign so trust is at a premium but balance that against David Davis who is an idiot. After three rounds of negotiation, the likelihood of a smooth breakfast is further away than ever and Davis bumbles about without any semblance of a clue, a plan or an ounce of credibility. It could, of course, be an elaborate bluff with Davis killing time in the hope those who voted leave combust with anger at the lack of progress or simply die of old age. That would make Davis a genius but such a concept requires an awful lot of trust. (more…)

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July 16, 2017

Tears of a clown

Only a complete fool would dare to suggest that extracting the fifth largest economy on the planet from the largest single market on Earth would be a simple undertaking and such a daunting task would probably freeze the blood of even the most skilful of negotiators. To similarly imply that the still just about United Kingdom remaining within the European Union can be achieved without endless rancour, hostility and the potential for civil unrest is as credible as a sexed-up dodgy dossier as a justification for war. Given that the set of negotiations to remove the UK from the EU are perhaps the most significant and consequential of dialogues since the Second World War, Her Majesty`s government seem intent on making a complete and utter hash of the whole thing.

We need only to consider those entrusted with the process of negotiation. David Davis is to competence what Liam Fox is to honesty and Boris Johnson possesses all the tact and diplomacy of a hormonal Gloucestershire Old Spot boar. It is almost as if Her Majesty`s government, as usual saying one thing and meaning another, wants the negotiations to trail on out towards infinity and then fail and then start the process all over again. Buying time is as high on the agenda as buying parliamentary votes in the desperate hope of clinging to power. (more…)

July 10, 2017

Ich bein ein Hamburger

Filed under: History,Politics,World — theplastichippo @ 2:47 am
Tags: , , , ,

Not Colonel Sanders

Perhaps the most enduring and delightfully amusing myths generated by the cold war, is the continued belief that a President of the United States stood before a crowd in West Berlin and described himself as a jam-filled doughnut.

Few cold war orators could work a crowd like John F Kennedy even when the crowd spoke a different language and his assertion in 1963 that he, along with other free men would be proud to call themselves citizens of Berlin went down a storm with the German-speaking audience. Only non-German translators raised an eyebrow at the reference to deep-fried confectionary by completely missing the point that people in Berlin call jam-filled doughnuts Pfannkuchen and people in, for example, Hamburg call Pfannkuchen “Berliners”. Imagine JFK announcing to a New York crowd; “I am a weekly news and comment magazine celebrating the cultural richness of New York City”. (more…)

June 3, 2017

Air sick


As the English language continues to gloriously expand and evolve, it has yet to create an adequate word or phrase to capture the true essence of what it means to be a spectator of political campaigning.

The German “schadenfreude” or the related “joie mauvaise” from the French describing an evil joy might explain taking pleasure at the misfortunes of others but does not quite capture the feeling of toe-curling discomfiture watching politicians dig holes armed with only sound bites and spurious facts and figures. Even the Spanish “verguenza ajena” which relates to the sublime if guilty delight of seeing total strangers making fools of themselves during episodes of vicarious embarrassment cannot fully encompass the feeling of wanting to look away even though continuing to look through fingers thrown across disbelieving eyes. The invented “freudenschade”, which cleverly flips the German original to mean expressing sorrow at the success or good fortune of other people, does not cut the linguistic mustard. The advantage of a snap election means that the inevitable gaffs, faux pas, howling examples of hysterical hypocrisy and moments of undiluted unmitigated madness are condensed into a few, brief weeks of something that has no satisfactory descriptor known within the English language. (more…)

May 26, 2017

Which side are you on?

Via India Express and Reuters

I have to admit that until Monday evening, I had never heard of Ariana Grande and even now, more than 72 hours later, I remain completely unfamiliar with her work but recognise that her talent and status make her important as an icon and role model for adolescent girls and various other sections of society we are happy to place in pigeon holes. Sadly, for all her riches, fame and adulation, Ariana Grande will be remembered for giving a concert in Manchester that ended with the murders of children who only wanted to see their idol perform.

Each barbaric atrocity that takes the lives of innocents brings out the very best and the darkest worst of human nature. Again and again the emergency services rush towards horrific catastrophe without a thought of danger for themselves and overcome the human instinct to run away from harm. Instead, they provided rescue, care and comfort to total strangers. (more…)

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