The Null Device


The dust hasn't yet settled after David Cameron vetoed the EU financial treaty, setting Britain on a course to the periphery of the EU or beyond, but already the Euroskeptics are lining up to give Johnny Foreigner what for. The latest to stick it to the Frogs and Krauts is the mayor of Bishop's Stortford, whose particular exercise of Churchillian bulldog spirit has been to withdraw his town's twinning arrangement with Villiers sur Marne and Friedberg. Just because.

Mayor John Wyllie has written letters to his honourable counterparts in the town's two twin cities: Friedberg near the German financial capital of Frankfurt, and Villiers-sur-Marne near Paris. He isn't writing to invite them to the usual partnership ceremonies, conferences or youth exchange programs. He is writing to cancel the town's friendship with them, after 46 years. On September 28, 2012, Wyllie informed them that his town would sever all ties with the twin towns. He gave no reason for this break-off of diplomatic relations.
Mike Wood, 66, the only council member from the pro-European Liberal Democrat party, says Tories are "usually normal people. But whenever you mention Europe they turn into some kind of monster."
This comes on the heels of rising anti-European, and particularly anti-German, sentiment in the British populist media, with old WW2 stereotypes being dusted off and trotted out at all the inappropriate moments:
Distrust of the European Union goes hand-in-hand with distrust of Germany, especially among "euroskeptics," the current euphemism for the many haters of the EU in Britain. The headline "Welcome to the Fourth Reich" in the high-circulation Daily Mail summarized the German-French plans to rescue the monetary union.
(You'd think that, coming from a paper with the Daily Mail's history, "Fourth Reich" would be a term of glowing praise...)

Anecdotally, I've noticed that, while the supermarkets of Britain are full of Christmas puddings of all sorts, there is no stollen bread, a British Christmas tradition since cheap flights to German Christmas markets began. I wonder whether the decision to not order any this year comes from market research surveys into anti-German and/or anti-Continental sentiment among the British public.

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Kim Jong Il, the God-Emperor of North Korea, is dead, apparently having suffered a heart attack aboard his private train whilst on the way to offer guidance to workers. KJI All of North Korea has reportedly erupted in mass hysterical wailing as the people are struck by the enormity of their loss and/or the consequences of being insufficiently emphatic in their grief. Meanwhile, the rest of the leadership is off the hook over its pledge to make North Korea prosperous by 2012; if the death of Kim Il Sung is any precedent, there will be a three-year period of national mourning and austerity.

What follows the death of Kim Jong Il is less certain; while there is no official designated successor, his son Kim Jong-un seems to be positioned as the likely candidate, with the state news agency instructing the nation to "faithfully revere" him. Whether the newly ascended God-Emperor will seek a rapprochement with the outside world or to consolidate his stature with belligerent acts, or indeed whether there will be a leadership struggle of any sort within the politburo, remains to be seen.

It is perhaps ironic that, over the past few days, we have witnessed the death of a prominent atheist and critic of despots, then that of a dissident playwright who led the dismantling of a Communist regime and its replacement by a democracy, and finally that of a nominally Communist dictator venerated as a living god. Almost as if there was a god and s/he was hosting a panel show.

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