It is the lack of democratic legitimacy that lies at the heart of why the Lords is both so tainted and so unreformed. Absent any claim to a public mandate, peers can never be a fully functional element of the legislature and that means they can never be properly capable of checking the executive of the day. Governments like it that way so they keep it that way.
Another heatwave is upon us and I should probably be staying in the shade rather than obsessively meeting my daily exercise target. But if I had stayed indoors, I wouldn’t have seen this guy sunning himself.
This sent me down something of an internet rabbit hole. While the French are normally famous for eating frogs legs, I remember seeing somewhere that archaeological evidence points to the English having come up with this idea first — by a few thousand years. While trying to confirm this, I came across something much better.
Here’s the proof. You have been warned.
Aglais io, or the European Peacock, is a striking but reasonably common butterfly found in Europe and Asia.
The eye spots on the butterfly’s wings are to deter avian predators, which is all well and good when it’s outdoors in the summer. During the winter, though, when the butterfly is hibernating in the dark, they aren’t much use at all against mice and other rodents. In these cases, it will hiss.
I had no idea that butterflies could make such a noise.
Remember when Brexiters were constantly complaining about EU red tape? So now there’s this:
Under extraordinary proposals, truckers driving on designated roads to Dover and the Eurotunnel at Folkestone will need a digital, 24-hour “Kent access permit” which would be issued to them in advance of travel if they can confirm they have the required paperwork to take their goods across the border.
Chris Yarsley, policy manager for Road Infrastructure at Logistics UK, said the “Kent permit” plan was tantamount to creating an “internal U.K. border.” Drivers who don’t have one would face £300 fines and their lorries could be impounded if they don’t pay.
It used to be that a haulier could drive from Newcastle to Spain with no more than a cursory check in Calais. Under these proposals, a British haulier can’t even drive into Kent.
Or are we supposed to believe that a Brexit Border is somehow a good thing?
Today’s headline of the day, and strange tale of shopping on the sly, comes from The Brussels Times.
Being There is a film based on the Jerzy Kosinski novel of the same name. I’ve not read the book, yet, but I certainly intend to because the film is superb.
Peter Sellers plays Chance, a naive and illiterate gardener who has spent his entire life living and working within the walls of a Washington townhouse. His life is simple — he tends the garden, he watches TV and the maid brings him meals at regular intervals.
This is all overturned when the owner of the house dies, the household is disbanded and Chance is told that he has to leave. So, dressed in his former employer’s impeccable cast-offs, he steps out into the world — which isn’t like TV.
As far as the premise goes, that is pretty much it. Chance knows nothing about the world beyond his garden, but he is able to behave like a talk-show guest and this proves to be enough when he finds himself — following an accident and a couple of misunderstandings — among the Washington elite. Here, his simple and obvious statements about gardening are taken for profound analogies and he quickly becomes the trusted confident of a dying industrialist who, in turn, is an unofficial advisor to the president.
What really makes this film remarkable is that it’s played completely straight, allowing the humour to emerge from the characters and the situations. The only joke is in the premise, yet the film is able to take this premise and repeatedly strike comedy gold. It really is a very funny film.
I had a quick look around after watching the film and there seems to be as many interpretations as to what this film is about as there are reviews. For me, though, Being There is a delightfully gentle satire about the way in which we impose our own prejudices onto others. Chance comes across as something of a blank slate whose agreeableness allows others to interpret his every utterance to mean exactly what they expect, or want, it to mean.
Once More Unto the Breach (But Don’t Worry, the Inflatable Swords Are Latex-Free) by Tina Connolly is a genuinely funny story about the endless challenge of parenting.
“Sometimes, when we all act on our preferences, we end up collectively worse off. Wearing masks is the flipside of this: by acting against our preference and wearing them, we might end up collectively better off by having fewer infections and escaping lockdowns.” Chris Dillow considers maskphobia.
“Some critics want you to think Ed Wood’s film is the worst ever made. But there are actually plenty of things to admire about the schlock classic.” Kieran Fisher considers the everlasting power of Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Alan Parker died last week. Tom Jolliffe celebrates the career of one of Britain’s greatest directors.
Dan Nosowitz asked leading entomologists: “What’s The Smartest Bug In The World?“
On Sunday, Belgium broke the record for the longest political crisis and longest period without an elected government.
It has been 592 days since the previous government, led by former Prime Minister Charles Michel, collapsed over inter-party tensions on migration in December 2018.
The previous record holder was… Belgium.
While in the garden recently, I found this guy on my corn. My limited insect identification skills are enough to know that it’s a grasshopper (watch me get corrected in the comments now 😉 ), but I have no idea as to what type.
More importantly, is it edible?
On a side note, attempting to identify bugs is something that I’m finding quite interesting even though I’m rubbish at it. If anyone can point to any relevant resources, it would be much appreciated.