Tranquebar is a small town in India. More specifically, it’s a small town in Tamil Nadu. In and of itself it isn’t all that remarkable. There are a lot of towns in India, many smaller than Tranquebar, many more towns vastly larger. What makes Tranquebar interesting is that it was once a Danish trading outpost. Denmark had great ambitions, but little ability to really force their will on anyone. Denmark’s colonial holdings were, thus, modest. Denmark was among the first countries with overseas colonies to divest itself of them. It sold Tranquebar to the British East India Company in 1845. It sold the Danish West Indies to the United States in 1917 when they became the United States Virgin Islands. Continue reading “Tranquebar”

Holden on no more.

After August, Holden will exist no more. GM, true to form, accepted billions in dosh before turning tail and running. A number of Australians complained about that. They should not be surprised. After American taxpayers bailed them out, they simply moved production to China to boost their profits and cut costs — the long-struggling Michigan and Ohio economies be damned.

Naturally, various excuses were made. The most pitiful one was that Holden struggled due to the fragmentation of right-hand-drive vehicle markets. Sure, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are no more geographically remote from each other than, say, North America, continental Europe and Brazil. Another slightly pitiful excuse was that it was difficult to keep a brand going when it only exited in two markets — Australia and New Zealand. That point is fairer, but it ignores the basic premise that Holden had, for a long time, been a repackaged Opel/Vauxhall with some Australian features.

Whatever one thinks, it’s a blow. Holden was well and truly an Australian icon. With the years, there is less and less that makes countries, societies distinct, that makes a region feel like a region. Holden was Australian, it was a part of Australian life and society. Now, it’s the same Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Hyundai or Lexus you can find anywhere.

The Trouble with Celts

The Celts have, once again, managed to make the news. A few days ago Derek Mackay, formerly Wee Krankie’s right-hand man and an SNP cabinet member was forced out of the SNP and the cabinet after getting caught pesting a 16-year-old schoolboy. This is horrifying, but not entirely unexpected for the SNP. They have rather a history of dodgy members. A pity, really. Scotland is a beautiful country and I have a deep reserve of goodwill for many Scots.

Now, the Irish have managed to make headlines for their seeming embrace of Sinn Fein. Fine Gael and Fiona Fail, after generations of dominance, have been marginalised. Fiona Fail have never recovered from the damage they took as a consequence of Lesser Britain’s severe economic turmoil some 10-12 year ago. Fine Gael have done little to endear themselves to the Irish public. Sinn Fein, a vile mob of terrorists, have capitalised on the general uselessness of the traditional ruling parties. Whilst I personally have no interest either way in what happens in the southern 26 counties of the Lesser Britain, I do worry that this will have a spill-on effect in Ulster.

The poor dear

The poor dear, my poor mum, has the grave misfortune of having to visit her family next week. It’s a long flight on Air Canada from Austin to Luxembourg via Toronto and Munich. Alas, it’s her duty to see her mother as her condition is quickly declining.

After 5 days of that torture, she will fly to England for a week. We’ll spend a few days in Dorset before travelling to Bath and then London to make sure that she gets to airport on time. I will keep you posted.