25 February 2017

Wellington's British cars

1975 Leyland Clubman 1100

1968 MG 1100

1964 Morris Mini

A pretty decent catch

Good boundary work by James Neesham to catch AB de Villiers in tonight's 3rd ODI versus South Africa at the Stadium in Wellington.

20 February 2017

A flying round-trip from London to Amsterdam, 1922

A typical Daimler Airway flight to Holland and return [in 1922] began with a drive down from London to Croydon of some forty-five minutes. There the eight passengers would file aboard and settle themselves in the comfortable, upholstered seats with the aid of a steward, a Daimler innovation. The engine was then started, the chocks withdrawn and the plane taxied to the downwind end of the field. Taking off at about 12.50[pm] the pilot might climb to between 2,000 and 6,000 feet depending on the weather over the Channel. If the sun was shining and it was late spring or summer, the cabin was often hot enough that shirtsleeves were comfortable. About an hour after take-off the Dover-Calais crossing would be made. Upon reaching the French shore, the pilot turned north-east up the coast for Rotterdam, landing there at 15.30. Ten minutes sufficed to drop off four passengers and take the air again for Amsterdam which was reached at 16.00 hours. Take-off from Amsterdam was at 17.20 and Croydon was reached again at 20.30. Daimler handled passengers' baggage, except for Customs, so the flight was usually uneventful. On the two occasions of forced landings, Dutch beaches were used with indifferent results.

- Robin Higham, Britain's Imperial Air Routes 1918 to 1939, London, 1960, p.59.

07 February 2017

A much less dangerous imagination

[A]fter the 80s, the new American right saw things differently. Newt Gingrich, then speaker of the House, now close supporter of Trump, took time out from impeaching Bill Clinton to co-author three excruciatingly dire alt-history novels about the civil war. In Never Call Retreat, the final in the trilogy, written by Gingrich with William Forstchen and Albert Hanser, the Union side wins the war but, by implication, the south wins the peace. With Sherman’s Union army poised to destroy Atlanta, the Confederate commander, Robert E Lee, persuades the south to surrender. “The patience of our opponents is at an end,” this fictional Lee tells the Confederate government. “We shall reap a terrible whirlwind that will scar our nation for generations to come.” Lincoln then delivers the Gettysburg address to a nation that has, by implication, made peace with the slaveowners and the ideology of white supremacy they lived by.

While you ponder the parallels with today, consider this statement from [Steve] Bannon, made on his radio show in December 2015 to explain the worldview of his Breitbart website: “It’s war. It’s war. Every day, we put up: America’s at war, America’s at war. We’re at war.

For Bannon, the No 1 enemy in this “war” is Islam, with China No 2. But there is also a fifth column in America to be dealt with as part of a “global existential war”. For Bannon, this fits into a generational theory of American power whereby the nation fulfils its destiny through a cycle of catastrophic crises: first, the revolution of 1776, then the civil war, then the intervention into the second world war and finally the crisis Bannon intends to provoke through Trump.

In Bannon and Gingrich, then, you have two men influencing the most powerful office in the world whose beliefs about the dynamics of US history could be best described as dangerous bullshit. Bannon fantasises about turning the culture war into a real one; Gingrich about the survival of an undestroyed south. Compared with them, Trump, whose fantasies appear to revolve around women, gold and tall buildings, has a much less dangerous imagination.

- Paul Mason, 'Trump’s advisers want a new civil war – we must not let them have it', Guardian, 6 February 2017