Posts Tagged ‘Britain’

Brexit: Reading the Tea Leaves

June 22, 2016

Brexit: Reading the Tea Leaves

With Thursday’s referendum looming, it looks like even money that the UK may leave the European Union. Even the tragic murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by a pro-Brexit assassin hasn’t changed that. There’s much at stake, but British nationalism and xenophobia are running high, and it can be hard for those not directly involved in finance or trade to discern the benefits of EU membership and the high costs of Brexit.

And your normal British bloke just doesn’t feel very European. He might like bit of pastry and a cuppa for brekkie, but he can’t even butter a crescent-shaped croissant. The UK’s Tesco supermarkets finally gave up and stopped baking traditional curved croissants and straightened them out for the native-born. Can those even be called “croissants,” “cornettos”, or “cuernos”? Shudder. Could this be a sign of impending Brexit?

More:

“British Retailer’s Straight Croissants Leave Some Bent Out of Shape,” Dan Bilefsky, New York Times

“In a twist: Tesco’s decision to stop selling curved croissants sparks debate,” Damien Gayle, The Guardian

Straightened-Out Croissants and the Decline of Civilization,” Adam Gopniok, The New Yorker

“French mock Tesco over decision to only sell straight croissants because customers cannot spread jam properly,” Caroline Mortimer, The Independent

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Canada Bans Marmite

January 25, 2014

Canada Bans Marmite

Canada has banned imports of Marmite – not because it’s made from British brewery waste, but because it’s artificially fortified with vitamins to back up dubious health claims, and food spreads in Canada aren’t allowed such fortification.

The stuff was imported by Brit Foods, a Canadian retailer specializing in British comestibles. The yeasty brown gunk is an iconic UK product, a cherished symbol of the Empire to which Canada once belonged. We have not been able to determine if the Marmite ban endangers Canada’s membership in the Commonwealth.

To avoid the appearance of favoritism in the upcoming independence referendum, Canada also banned imports of Scotland’s Irn-Bru, a ghastly orange-colored soft drink and symbol of modern Scottish identity. That color is supplied by Ponceau 4R, a pigment derived from coal tar which, unlike clubbing baby seals to death, is prohibited in the Great White North.

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A Nation of Tea Drinkers Shames Starbucks Into Paying Taxes

December 14, 2012

A Nation of Tea Drinkers Shames Starbucks Into Paying Taxes

Starbucks makes billions in the British Isles but reduced its UK tax bill to near zero by using accounting tricks that, while arguably legal, are avoided by good corporate citizens, including other U.S. chain eateries. Brits were outraged, and boycotts were organized. At first, Starbucks responded to the bad publicity by cutting employee lunchbreaks and sick leave, but finally made a voluntary token payment. Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal scolded the java giant for caving in to the Twittering mob.

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Image (“Urban Breakfast, after William Harnett”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Olympic Ceremony Symbolism

July 29, 2012

Olympic Ceremony Symbolism
“The opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics was by turns spectacular and surreal,” observes Barry Neild. “It did a good job of stirring British hearts, but did the rest of the world have a clue what was going on?”

More:

“Did Olympics opener have hidden meaning?” Barry Neild, GlobalPost

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Zebra Crossing

October 31, 2011

Zebra Crossing

October 31, 1951: the Zebra Crossing first comes to the aid of pedestrians. As mandated by British law, a new kind of road marking appears in Slough, Berks., white stripes painted on black tarmac from curb to curb perpendicular to the flow of traffic. Labor Party MP (later Prime Minister) James Callaghan commented on the resemblance to the striped African equine, and the name stuck. Someone else named the Panda Car.

Today the Zebra Crossing is found around the world, but the most famous one is only about 25 miles from the first one. It’s on Abbey Road in London.

“Sixty Years of the Zebra Crossing,” Nicola Bowerbank, Britannica Blog

Abbey Road crossing live webcam

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Lake Windermere Monster Sighting

February 19, 2011

Lake Windermere Monster Sighting

A kayaker snapped a photo of the monster of Lake Windermere last Friday.  The beast, known as “Bownessie” after the town of Bowness, has been sighted eight times since 2006 in Cumbria’s Windermere, the largest natural lake in England.

The creature was said to measure 25 to 50 feet (7.6 to 15.2 meters) in length. Some believe the beast is a Wels catfish (Silurus glanis), an Eastern European species brought to England in 1880 by the Duke of Bedford. Skeptics point out that a Loch Ness Monster could take A82 to the M90 motorway and reach the Lake Country in a few hours.

 

Image (“Bathers and Lizards at Asnières, after Georges Seurat”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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The Queen’s Knickers

December 11, 2010

The Queen's Knickers

Queen Elizabeth II left a pair of her underdrawers on a private plane in 1968, and they’re being auctioned off to the highest bidder. A pair of Queen Victoria’s panties fetched $9,000 in a recent auction, and these royal bloomers are expected to fetch a similar price. Prospective bidders should keep on eye on Hanson’s, the Derbyshire auctioneers.

We think “The Queen’s Knickers” would be a super name for a pub or a jolly good title for a sequel to the film “The King’s Speech.”

 

 

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Semester Abroad. Fries with That?

December 10, 2010

 Semester Abroad. Fries With That?

At first we thought McDonald’s had opened a UK franchise of famed Hamburger University. The Oak Brook, Illinois campus flips out 5,000 students a year (over 80,000 served), but doesn’t have much of a football team.

Britain’s Manchester Metropolitan University has it’s own McDonald’s degree program, though. The university’s Business School also runs degree programs for Tesco supermarkets and Booth’s. The latter is either for Booth’s supermarkets or Booth’s Gin.

Attention U.S. exchange students: “Chips” means “fries” in Blighty, “chips” are “crisps,” and the drive-thru window is on the wrong side of the building. Start studying  now.

 

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Druids Now Kosher in UK

October 3, 2010

Druids Now Kosher in UK 

Druidism has been recognized as a religion by the government of the United Kingdom. More specifically, the Druid Network organization has been recognized as legitimate and tax-exempt by The Charity Commission for England and Wales. Initial news accounts suggested a historical continuity of some kind between ancient religious practices and modern druid groups. The Charity Commission ruling doesn’t validate this preposterous claim, since brand-new faith groups may be ruled tax-exempt if they do not harm the public and conduct their financial affairs appropriately.

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Mop-Top Masters Program

March 4, 2009

Mop-Top Masters Program

Liverpool Hope University has announced a new Master of Arts degree program, “The Beatles, Popular Music and Society.”

“There have been over 8000 books about The Beatles but there has never been serious academic study and that is what we are going to address,” says Dr. Michael (Mike)  Brocken, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music at the school.  Dr. Brocken is a frequent contributor to BBC Radio Merseyside and has written about the British folk music revival and Burt Bacharach. Liverpool Hope University (formerly the Liverpool Institute of Higher Education) is the successor to earlier Catholic and Church of England colleges dating back to 1844. 

Liverpudlian teen musicians John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison formed the group that became the Beatles in 1957-58 and appeared at the hometown Cavern club nearly 300 times from 1961 to 1963. Homeboy Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) became the Beatles’ drummer in 1962.

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