The Telegraph inquires into British emigration:

Almost one in 10 British citizens are now living abroad, according to new figures from a leading think tank. Are you one of them? If so, why? And what has been your experience of the move? Do you feel welcome in your new environment? Do you still regard Britain as home?

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) estimates that the total figure for British expatriates now stands at 5.5 million.

So, ten percent of Mexico now lives in the United States, while ten percent of Britain has fled Tony Blair’s Cool Brittania. An increasing number of Americans are leaving too, of course, as the USA follows Britain’s lead, the primary difference is that America’s size has allowed her to better disguise the effects of the third world migration while the British Labor party has managed to be even more damaging to Britain than the Bush-Clinton-Bush trifecta was to the United States.

I spent two weeks in London recently and it was more than a little sad to see how much the city had changed since I was last there. One can’t truly imagine how the spy cameras are everywhere – it’s truly Big Brother and his little corporate friends run amok – and one can go a surprising amount of time without hearing any English being spoken. Needless to say, if I was British, I’d have left too.

The funny thing is all the “good riddance” people who posted. I mean, this sort of exodus threatens to pose a real problem for Britain, the Telegraph is interested in knowing why people have elected to vote with their feet, and all the morons can do is repeat the same idiocies that caused all these expats to leave in the first place.

It’s amazing how often in an otherwise unfair world, one gets what one deserves.

Fun with fat girls

This ad would be amusing even if it didn’t upset the feminists. The best part is when the PS/3 explains that she is educated. Right, that’s what every man wants, an educated girl. That’s why there are so many magazines full of pictures of women’s diplomas, complete with long and tedious essays about what it feels like to be a female (fill in the blank).

For the Nth time: Ladies, men don’t give a damn about your educations! And Intelligence |= Education. The mere fact that so many women can’t understand either of these very simple concepts underlines their relevance.

A PhD is Sociology isn’t one-one hundredth as attractive as a cheerful smile, pretty eyes or a nicely formed, nicely fit behind. Ask 100 men if they would rather date a girl with a Harvard degree on her resume or the Victoria’s Secret catalog, more than 95 percent would prefer the latter. Make it the Pirelli calendar and that figure rises to 100 percent.

Feministe complains: “I mean, talk about original!” You mean, original as in the way women inevitably defeat men with snappy retorts and superior athletic skills on television? Sure, that was funny the first 500 times, but now….

The only reason things like G4 exist in the first place is because women with sensibilities similar to Jessica and Amynda have destroyed what little entertainment was to be found in mainstream television. Not that it’s any great loss, of course.

She watch channel zero.

Interesting and ominous

Shell is being forced by the Russian government to hand over its controlling stake in the world’s biggest liquefied gas project, provoking fresh fears about the Kremlin’s willingness to use the country’s growing strength in natural resources as a political weapon.

Fortunately, Dear Leader has looked into Vladimir Putin’s soul, so we know that no matter how many people are poisoned, no matter how many properties are seized, it’s being done for the right reasons.

Of course, given last year’s Kelo decision, the United States doesn’t exactly have any grounds for complaint. To silence his critics, all Putin has to do is point out that the Russian government will receive more tax revenue from Gazprom than it will from Shell.

Boys and books

Dr. Helen has a reasonable thought after perusing a certain children’s book:

I think more boys would enjoy reading and writing if they were encouraged to read and write about things that held their interest, as opposed to what librarians and teachers give them on a reading list.

I have to agree. I began reading at an early age, was far more interested in books than in food, sport or pretty much anything else until Intellivision and the Apple II came along, and yet even I found many of the books we were required to read in high school to be utterly gruesome. I still won’t read Saul Bellow or Graham Greene to this day, even though I suspect I might rather like the latter now based on what I remember of “The Power and the Glory”.

And “Giants in the Earth”, yikes, one should be able to find that in the thesaurus as an antonym for “engaging”.

On a related note, SF writer John Scalzi realizes to his regret that he’ll have to come up with a new concept for his next series:

Hey! That’s the plot of my next book! Nuts. Back to the drawing board for me…. Does the young author have his own Web site? Oh, my, yes. Personally, I eagerly await the movie deal, ancillary marketing and plush toys, all before the lad is eight. Man, I’ve been wasting my life.

Hey, at least he has a publisher for his fiction…. Actually, I should mention that I’ve very much enjoyed this first experiment in self-publishing. (And how many authors, even big name ones, can put their cover on their own computer?) Instant Publisher is very, very easy to use and it’s surprisingly entertaining to look up your order and see it go from “Preparing Cover” to “Ready to Print” and so forth. I absolutely had the irrational urge to upload another book once I’d completed the order for the first run of “The Wrath of Angels”, so perhaps I’ll put out a short story collection next, if anyone happens to be interested.

We’ll have to see how the quality is, but otherwise, if it weren’t for the mass distribution angle – or lack thereof – I’d vastly prefer this process to the hand-it-over-and-wait-18-months that I went through four times with Pocket Books.

Interview with Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco is an author and professor of semiotics (the study of signs and symbols) at the University of Bologna. His novels have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, including “The Name of the Rose,” which was made into a movie starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater. His latest novel is “The Island of the Day Before.” He was interviewed at the Whitney Hotel in Minneapolis, on December 12, 1996.

Your novels are very popular, but it’s said that many people don’t read them all the way through. Does that bother you?

I must confess, there are books that I love very much, and I didn’t read them completely. It happens. When “The Name of the Rose” came out, so difficult and full of Latin quotations, and it had the success, it started the legend that it was an unread book. I am content.

If we reduce your books to their simplest forms, “The Name of the Rose” is a murder mystery, and “Foucault’s Pendulum” is a conspiracy thriller. What is “The Island of the Day Before?”

First of all, this is one level on which you can read the stories. In the first two, there is a certain detection-like mystery story. But there is also present a metaphysical detection, some great questions about truth and the order of the world. In this sense, the third novel is following the same path.

All three are philosophical novels. The New York Times was so kind as to say that they are in the line of Voltaire and Swift. But there is a difference – the first two novels are novels about culture.

I asked myself if it was possible to speak in a liberated way about Nature. That’s where I got the idea of an island, an island in the Pacific, untouched by human hands. It was interesting that in the case of my character arriving there for the first time – not only for himself, but for all humankind – and watching the things that no human eye had seen before, he didn’t have names for them. I was excited about telling the story through metaphor, instead of using the names. From my semiotic point of view, it was an interesting experience.

I always thought that Adam faced an interesting task when God told him to name everything. Where did Adam start?

You know that the last of my scholarly books discusses the problem that has been discussed for the last 2,000 years by our civilization, which is: What was Adam’s language, the perfect language? Because there is a myth that the name given by Adam to the rabbit expresses the real idea of the rabbit. It is a utopian idea, we would like that our language was a transparent tool by which we really understand the nature of things.

But in “The Name of the Rose,” don’t you seem to suggest that ideas don’t matter by making Jorge, the blind librarian, the villain?

Do you think William of Baskerville has no ideas? Jorge is not the villain, he is one of the heroes … He is expressing certain attitudes of his time, but I don’t consider him a villain. It is a confrontation between two worldviews, and a worldview is a system of ideas.

Are there ideas as dangerous to our modern worldview as an Aristotelian treatise on laughter would have been perceived in 1327?

Even our times have been full of dictatorships that have burned books. What does it mean, the Salman Rushdie persecution, if not to try to destroy a book? We are always trying to destroy something. Even today we have this continual struggle between people that believe certain texts are dangerous and must be eliminated. So my story is not so outdated, even though it takes place in the Middle Ages. We are not better.

Even here, people are discussing whether it is advisable or not to allow certain kinds of information on the Internet. Is it really permissible to allow people to teach people how to poison your mother, or make a bomb, through the Internet? We are always concerned that there are fearful texts.

In 1995, you mentioned that you did not use the ‘Net. Do you now?

I am a very well-balanced surfer. I surf on the Internet when I want to look for something that I need. I can spend 10 or 15 minutes to surf for mere curiosity. I don’t spend the entire night as a paranoid drug addict. I wish that everybody was so well-balanced as I am, at least in this matter.

Do you get more satisfaction out of writing a scholarly work, a novel, or even a particularly good newspaper column?

There is no difference. Once you are involved in a project, a duty, you can do it with great passion. At the moment, I am writing a very technical paper. Unfortunately, in this case, I cannot invent. I have to say something, if not true, at least reasonable. (laughs)

In “The Name of the Rose,” there was a serious discussion of whether Jesus laughed. Do you believe that God has a sense of humor?

What is the strange and unique property of a human being? To know we are mortal … which is an important piece of knowledge, if not so exciting. And I think just because we are the only ones to know we have to die, we are the only ones who try to react by laughing. In this sense, if God exists, he has no need to laugh. But maybe he would smile … (laughs).