Help the Democrats and have fun too!

by Daniel on November 10, 2004

I promised I’d have plenty of unsolicited advice for the Democrats this week, and I do. However, after reading round the web about all the things that are wrong with “the Left” and how they’re not in touch with the “real America” (no links provided, they’re not exactly hard to find), I got a bit depressed. So I invented this game to cheer myself up.

I call it “Six Degrees Of This Googlewhack Is A Serious Problem For The Left”.

It kind of combines the fun of the Kevin Bacon game with the fun of Googlewhacking, and at the same time helps you generate yet more self-flagellating theories about the election results, which must be fun or people wouldn’t do it so much.

The idea is that, it seems, you can connect almost anything to the phrase “this is a serious problem for The Left” in much less than six steps of argument. So the name of the game is to start with a googlewhack from the site and end via a chain of fairly close reasoning with an argument that the Democrats need to consider your googlewhack in depth.

Thus, gesticulate tatties is a googlewhack (or at least it is until this page gets indexed), and it links to the Life and Opinions of Sir Andrew Wylie. On page 14 of this document, there is the line:

No man in his senses would ever expect to see an ignoramus bush, far less a doddered holly-bush, take up a pen to write a book

which is clearly an example of an aristocrat, who is British, referring to President Bush as an ignoramus. This is the sort of high-handed patronising attitude that the Real America hates, and is therefore A Real Problem For The Left

Meanwhile, liposome yarmulke not only has undertones of anti-semitism, but the actual googlewhack is to a spam page pushing cheap Viagra. As long as the Democrats don’t have a credible healthcare plan or a definite policy on parallel importation of pharmaceuticals, they will always be the party of Hillarycare and this is therefore A Real Problem For The Left

And so on. There is perhaps some small kudos for any CT reader who can find a Googlewhack so obscure and nonpolitical that it can’t be used as a stick to beat the democrats with. There is also slightly more kudos for anyone who spots an “in the wild” application; a breast-beating “death of the Left” essay that looks like its original kernel was a googlewhack. Have fun.

Edelweiss Pirates

by Chris Bertram on November 10, 2004

Deutsche Welle has “an interesting article”:,1564,1391096,00.html about the Edelweiss Pirates, an anti-Nazi German youth movement whose members carried out numerous low-level acts of resistance and defiance during the war. “A feature film”: about their exploits played at the Montreal film festival in September.

Christmas Cake advice sought.

by Harry on November 10, 2004

The election, kid’s birthday party, and work in general, have delayed my Christmas Cake making to the coming weekend. Still, I’m now on track for Saturday morning. Making Christmas Cake generates several challenges. The first is the absence of edible glace cherries (which tend to be way too sweet here, if you can manage to find them) and appropriate chopped peel (can’t get the Whitworth’s kind, just candied muck). I overcame these problems last year rather well, by substituting dried cherries and dried strawberries. Expensive, but worth it. The second is keeping it moist enough. I’ve finally acknowledged that our oven overcooks everything, so am just doing everything at 50 degrees lower, and a bit longer — hope it will work. I’m also going to add more butter than my recipe says (I use Katie Stewart’s from the 1975 edition of the Times Calendar Cookery Book). But the unsolved problem is how to get it boozy enough. She demands just two tablespoons of brandy, which is nowhere near enough for a 3lb cake; so I have been doubling it the past couple of years, as well as sprinkling it over the cake sporadically in the weeks before Christmas. Still not enough. Should I be soaking the fruit in brandy beforehand? Should I be using even more brandy? Does anyone have experience of adding Port? While I am in my non-cake eating life all-but-a-teetotaller, I like boozy cake, but am constrained by the fact that I don’t want it to be so boozy that my kids will reject it. Advice? (And if anyone can tell me an easy way of getting edible glace cherries and Whitworth mixed peel in the Midwest that’d be great too).

Update: here’s the recipe (as modified by me from Katie Stewart):

[click to continue…]

Going Home to a Foreign Country

by Kieran Healy on November 10, 2004

There’s a nice piece in the Times about Irish emigrants returning home from New York because they think they can do better these days in Ireland. (Many of them do, though very low-skill service jobs are done by emigrants from Eastern Europe and elsewhere.) The article gives some sense of the surprise many of them feel when they see how much the country has changed. That used to take a generation or more to happen — one of our American cousins, returning to Ireland in 1978 after nearly fifty years in San Francisco, lasted only three days before the presence of televisions and the absence of livestock in the house caused him to fly home in disgust — but now returning emigrants can get culture shock after only a few years away:

bq. Counselors in immigrant advice bureaus on both sides of the Atlantic say that many returnees will have a rude awakening in Ireland — especially those who were stuck in the underground economy in the United States, unable to travel abroad for fear of not getting back in. The Irish government now puts out brochures warning that they will find not the Ireland of memory, but rather a fast-paced multiracial society where their dollars are weak against the euro and affordable housing scarce.

I go back as often as I can, in part to inoculate myself against misplaced nostalgia for the ole Green-n-Lovely. With typical good timing, I left Ireland in the Autumn of 1995, more or less exactly when the things were really starting to pick up. My younger brother had left the year before that, coming to college in the U.S. on an athletics scholarship. When he graduated, he convinced a big financial services company to sponsor his work visa and he got his green card last week. By contrast, my youngest brother and my sister left school a few years later and never gave a thought to emigrating. Neither of them even bothered to go to University and both have good jobs. Quite a transformation from a world where, around 1990, Career Guidance Counseling amounted to a recipes for leaving the country efficiently, and getting a Summer job stacking shelves in a department store required a family connection.