Hey, Brits: You know what you can do with your monarchy, right?

The same thing the Yanks ought to do with their vapid celebrities: time to build the ‘B’ Ark. I have an aversion to those horrible little puff pieces about the Royals that come out of the British press, but I get a lot of my news out of the UK, and every once in a while one of those stories comes wafting by on the data stream, like a giant flocculent, spongy turd packaged in candy floss — and I get an unpleasant splat in my face. So I found myself reading with horror some noise about Prince Charles and homeopathy. Because I love you all so much, I figured I’d share.

After a plodding long prologue somberly discussing the history of Charles’s doddering brain encountering 16th century alchemical balderdash and haranguing the British Medical Association with it, and with his founding of various money sinks for bunkum, we get to his toxic effects on the citizenry.

Nevertheless, Charles’s support has, in no small part, led to a surge in the number of patients seeking such treatments. Nearly six million Britons now see complementary practitioners each year, and one in four would like access to be universally available on the NHS. (Currently, treatments are accessible only in some areas, including Bristol and Lothian.) Over-the-counter remedies, such as arnica cream, have seen a 24 per cent growth in sales in the past decade.

Rachel Roberts, chief executive of the Homeopathy Research Institute, admits that she was once sceptical about holistic medicine but was won over by Charles’s endorsement of the practice. The royal physician is Dr Peter Fisher, clinical director at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine and an accredited homeopath.

“The Royal family have huge resources and access to everything medicine has to offer, yet they choose homeopathy,” explains Roberts. “I thought, ‘Why would they use it if it doesn’t work?’”

She sees Charles as a revolutionary. “He’s outspoken about his beliefs and doesn’t appear to care that he’s going against the tide of opinion,” she says. “He gives homeopathy a voice. Now we’re seeing a U-turn in how it is being received, and the rest of the world is catching up to where Prince Charles has been for decades.”

Oooh! A bunch of filthy rich people are promoting something insanely stupid, but surely they couldn’t have got to where they are now without being clever and wise and all that, surely? Do I really need to inform the British public that your prince achieved his status in the world entirely by virtue of being born to the right parents, and he didn’t have to earn a bit of it?

Just a suggestion: go read The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain’s Favourite Fetish by Christopher Hitchens. It’s short, it’s cheap, it gets right to the point.

Comments

  1. embertine says

    Please no: it’s bad enough that I can’t read my own country’s press without hearing something about these vacuous princelings, without you Yanks going on about it too.

    I just read Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science again the other day and was once again spurred to incandescent rage by the occasional references to Charlie’s pet idiocy.

  2. Nick Gotts says

    It is a pain in the arse having a royal family that is so stupid… but I suppose it’s better than it would be to have one that’s clever.

  3. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Rev BDC:

    I was thinking more of hearing over the loudspeakers:

    Defenders of the monarchy… Defenders of the monarchy to the White courtesy phone.

    But I am not sure that PW Botha jokes are sufficiently current to cut it with most here.

  4. phill says

    In the context of that article many people are revisiting the quote attributed to Denis Diderot, ‘Man will never be free until the last king has been strangled with the entrails of the last priest’. It seems, alas, to be more true now than in the eighteenth century. The British are fond, in majority, of their monarchy, largely, I suspect, because the present queen has never made much of a fuss, shakes hands nicely and plays the compliant head of state role well. Things may change if and when Charles dons the crown. One can only hope…..

  5. vaiyt says

    Such a revolutionary, discarding centuries of hard work and scientific progress in the name of already disproven hokum.

  6. Nick Gotts says

    In the context of that article many people are revisiting the quote attributed to Denis Diderot, ‘Man will never be free until the last king has been strangled with the entrails of the last priest’. – phill

    But that surely means we must preserve the monarchy, however painful this may be – if we run out of kings before we get down to the last priest, we’ll never be free!

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    I used to admire Charles somewhat for his campaign to preserve historic buildings in areas of London being “modernized” by megacorps. This, not so much.

    Currently, treatments are accessible only in some areas, including Bristol and Lothian.

    Anybody doing stats about relative health in those & comparable areas?

  8. Moggie says

    Nevertheless, Charles’s support has, in no small part, led to a surge in the number of patients seeking such treatments.

    Citation needed. While my fellow Brits do buy an awful lot of crap, I’d be surprised if the endorsement of Charles – widely regarded as a buffoon – has much to do with that.

  9. Don Quijote says

    The Prince of Piffle said he would like to be known as the Defendre of Faiths and not just Faith.

    If the legal challenge mounted by the NSS in the UK is successful he may get his wish. The legal challenge is against future monarchs having a Christian coronation.

  10. says

    Don’t worry, the Queen is going to make William King instead of Charles. The US tabloids tell me so, and they’re never wrong. Except of course for all those times they are.

    Fortunately for them their readers apparently haven’t heard of Wikipedia, and how it can tell you important things such as how the line of succession actually works.

    The international version of the Daily Mail is sold at local 7/11s, and a recent issue had a cover story with young Prince George, calling him “your future King.” Given how long his elders seem to live that’s a pretty huge assumption. It might be 60 years until he can take the throne, and a hell of lot can happen in that amount of time.

  11. Moggie says

    timguegen:

    The international version of the Daily Mail is sold at local 7/11s

    Why? They already stock toilet paper!

  12. Forbidden Snowflake says

    It is a pain in the arse having a royal family that is so stupid… but I suppose it’s better than it would be to have one that’s clever.

    Now that’s one for either the historical or the dystopian novels.

  13. Nick Gotts says

    Forbidden Snowflake@17

    Great idea! I think a steampunk alternative history in which Queen Victoria’s techno-scientific genius revolutionises warfare and leads to the reconquest of the revolting colonials might work…

    I am keeping an eye on the surprising longevity of the current crop – if the current Queen passes 110, I’ll conclude that they are being fed some secret elixir (but I suppose it might just be a result of grim determination not to die before Charles! ;-)

  14. chigau (違う) says

    The Royal family have huge resources and access to everything medicine has to offer, yet they choose homeopathy,” explains Roberts. “I thought, ‘Why would they use it if it doesn’t work?’

    Many generations of bad inbreeding?

  15. Nick Gotts says

    hyperdeath,

    On the contrary: President Attenborough.

    But seriously – why do we need a head of state at all? Let the Speaker of the House of Commons perform whatever functions can’t be dropped altogether. Or let anyone who wants apply to be HoS for a fixed term, perhaps subject to a lack of serious criminal convictions and a simple examination in civics, then draw a name at random. I favour this method for the House of Lords (but you wouldn’t need the simple exam in that case).

  16. dõki says

    “President Cameron”

    In most parliamentary republics, the role of president is mostly ceremonial, thus less capable of doing harm than a prime minister. A good argument against monarchy.

  17. sonofrojblake says

    . “I thought, ‘Why would they use it if it doesn’t work?’”

    He doesn’t “work” in any recognisable sense. I’m all for him being treated with medicines that don’t work.

    As for why he’d choose that, he’s fairly widely regarded as an idiot. He talks to plants, burbles about wanting to be the “Defender of Faith”, not “THE Faith” (like anyone cares) and the defining act of his life was to cheat on his wife (widely regarded by the public as one of the most desirable women in the world) with a women who one can most charitably describe as “not as attractive”. These things make the most common attitude to him in England contempt, rather than any kind of respect. Most people in this sodden archipelago have a sort of grudging respect or at least tolerance for the Queen, and her grandchildren by Diana benefit from their connection with her and their tragic loss of her. Charles, however, has a real public relations problem. I strongly dispute any contention that he is in any way influential.

    “She sees Charles as a revolutionary. “He’s outspoken about his beliefs and doesn’t appear to care that he’s going against the tide of opinion,””

    Why would he care about opinion? He owns a county and he’s going to be king. Why give a monkey’s what the plebs think? That’s not revolutionary, that’s rational indifference.

  18. sonofrojblake says

    One other thing – I’ll respect Charles’s opinion on homeopathy if he chooses over chemo or radiotherapy when he gets cancer. Good luck, Chuck.

  19. says

    I may be wrong, but Bigears’ greatest (only??) triumph (if I remember from back then) was on stage in a dustbin (= US ‘trashcan’) reciting the Goon Show. I bet even Brenda would like to see him there again.
     
    (btw the Last True King™ was St Eadmund—martyred by the Great Heathen Army in 869. Since then the bastards have all been bleedin’ foreigners)

  20. robinjohnson says

    I’m sympathetic to most anti-monarchy arguments, but I can refute them in two words:

    “President Cameron”

    You may as well say you can refute our parliamentary system in three words: Prime Minister Cameron. I’d probably agree.

    But at least when Cameron does something horrible, I can, I don’t know, vote harder, or something.

  21. robinjohnson says

    the defining act of his life was to cheat on his wife (widely regarded by the public as one of the most desirable women in the world) with a women who one can most charitably describe as “not as attractive”

    Fuck that.

    I’ve little respect for Charles, but the fact that he’s ended up with someone he actually loves, rather than someone his family approved of and the public deemed sufficiently attractive, is one of the few things he has going for him.

    Diana cheated too, and if she’d lived to Camilla’s age, she’d almost certainly by now be considered “not as attractive” by anyone shallow enough to think it mattered.

  22. Sastra says

    She sees Charles as a revolutionary. “He’s outspoken about his beliefs and doesn’t appear to care that he’s going against the tide of opinion,” she says.

    A “revolutionary?” Yes, let’s go forward to the Middle Ages. Homeopathy rests on a belief in sympathetic magic, among other anachronisms.

    And as for the “tide of opinion” — well, that’s never been in favor of science as such. Technology, sure. Understanding some things which are interesting to know, sure. But watch what happens to the Tide of Opinion when it comes up against the Breakwater of Failing to Confirm What You Already Know. It swells up into the Tsunami of Intuition, creates great splashing Waves of Fury and Indignation, and eventually levels everything in its path, wearing down the Hills of Scientific Achievement in order to create the Stagnant Pond of Everyone Has the Right to Their Own Opinion.

  23. johnbyfleet says

    Yes PZ. A lot of us Brits know exactly what we can do with our monarchy.

    Not all Brits are in thrall to this useless bunch of inbred German scroungers. Oddly enough us benighted inhabitants of the ConDemNation would mostly prefer to be citizens rather than subjects.

    And of all of the motley crew of hangers on and interfering busybodies it is His Righteous Homeopathicness Prince Jugears that is detested the most. Even the majority of old age blue rinsed monarchists dislike him. They think he had Wifey 1 killed.

    I think he is the reason lamposts and rope were invented.

    The bitter irony is that every Christmas all the atheist republicans raise a toast to “God Save The Queen”.

  24. ospalh says

    She sees Charles as a revolutionary.

    Well, maybe. Revolutionaries often want to see royalty dead. But most of the time the use faster and more reliable methods, like a guillotine or the aforementioned entrails of priests. Not waiting for a treatable illness that is not treated because of some superstitions.

  25. anuran says

    Correction: Homeopathy isn’t “16th century alchemical balderdash”. It’s 19th century woo and crackpottery. Back in the Earlies a lot of alchemy was what passed for Science. The theory was wrong. The scientific method was primitive. But it was an important stage in the history of chemistry and medicine.

    Hahnemann was an old fashioned English nut.

  26. says

    Hey, it’s our monarchy too! And while I have no strong in-principle objections to the institution, in its current attenuated form, the prospect of some day spending the rest of my life* with Chuckles The Clown as Figurehead Of State is enough to turn me republican. (Could we perhaps skip straight to young Bill? He and Kate seem like nice folks).

    OTOH, my English cousins like him for his views on modern architecture (while I have my own negative opinions on some of it, I’m agnostic on the princely specifics for lack of information).

    *Given the known Windsor longevity, he’s likely to outlive me, despite being some nine years my senior.

  27. Nick Gotts says

    robro@35,

    Actually, I have no objection at all to this. Presumably he’s made enough National Insurance contributions to be eligible. It’s all the other public money, the tax breaks, and the attention for his crackpottery he gets I object to.

  28. Gregory Greenwood says

    Prince Charles is only good for one thing, and one thing only – being the living, breathing, single most compelling argument for Britain to become a Republic.

    Every time that vapid idiot opens his overprivileged mouth on any one of the legions of topics he clearly doesn’t understand at all, I can feel the world’s contempt for this little island nation of my birth crank up another notch or two.

    Isn’t our hideously brutal, racist and oppressive colonial past; the long and pointlessly bloody history of these islands; and our ongoing post-war policy of unthinking support for the US no matter which group of largely defenceless people it is that the White House wants to ‘bomb back to the Stone Age’ today, bad enough? Do we really have to give a global platform to the man that pretty much embodies all that is wrong with the systems of unearned privilege that have been rotting away at the guts of this country for centuries? And to allow him to use this international megaphone to promote the anti-scientific, unevidenced and downright dangerous lies of homeopathy no less?

    The sooner we drop the entire notion that the UK needs to be run with the readily available , gaudily bejeweled rubber stamp of the rump end of an irrelevant aristocacy to hand, the better off we will be.

  29. sarah00 says

    Pierce R. Butler @10,

    I don’t know about health stats, but I do know that the Homeopathic Hospital in Bristol had a big renovation a few years ago which must have cost a fair amount – scaffolding around it for a good few months as they cleaned the exterior which was a bit galling given how the proper hospitals have been desperately in need of upgrades.

    What’s scarier is that, from what I understand, the medical students at Bristol Uni can opt to do some of their rotations (or whatever they’re called) there as part of their training. I’ve only heard this through the grapevine, so don’t know whether it’s true or just a rumour, but it seemed a valid claim at the time.

  30. grahamhlondon says

    As a British republican I think that he is our best hope, when (if) he gets on the throne we have to hope he will trigger some sort of constitutional crisis which will wake up the majority of the nation to what a silly system it is. The queen has been incredibly good at pr and has managed to avoid doing anything too stupid, mostly by keeping her mouth shut.

    And to any USAians taking the piss can I point out the Chazza is in a position of a little influence due to an accident of birth.

    You voted for George W Bush. Twice…

  31. Nick Gotts says

    Not all Brits are in thrall to this useless bunch of inbred German scroungers. – johnbyfleet@33

    Please avoid attacking people on the basis of their ancestry – it’s no more progressive or acceptable than giving them special privileges on that account.

  32. Rick Pikul says

    @timgueguen

    The international version of the Daily Mail is sold at local 7/11s, and a recent issue had a cover story with young Prince George, calling him “your future King.” Given how long his elders seem to live that’s a pretty huge assumption. It might be 60 years until he can take the throne, and a hell of lot can happen in that amount of time.

    Well, it’s more been the women who have lasted that long. The guys tend not to last as long on the throne:

    Victoria: 1837-1901
    Edward VII: 1901-1910
    George V: 1910-1936
    Edward VIII: 1936
    George VI: 1936-1952
    Elizabeth II: 1952-current

    So, the future George VIII[1] actually has a decent chance of making the throne. How long he sits on it is another question.

    [1] Prince Charles is most likely going to reign as George VII, being Charles III would have unfortunate connotations.

  33. stevem says

    I must be “anti-infected” with monarchy-worship. I.E. almost everything I hear as a criticism of our “dear” President is him not doing what only a KING could do. Never-mind the democratic process or the existence of the Congress (as “do-nothing” as they are anyway). All I ever hear is, “The president needs to pass (create) this law, ~ , create jobs, ~ , heal people (i.e. provide health insurance), ~ , reduce spending, ~ , [de/in]crease taxes, ~ , etc. etc.” Why can I only think, “these things only a king could do”? Why don’t people realize this entire list is the job of the Congress, that the President is only empowered to ENFORCE the laws and ADMINISTER them, not CREATE them out of whole cloth? I worry that my fellow citizens (of USA) can only conceive of monarchy as the “right” form of government. I hope that Chucky may be a good example of just how sili a king would be. Am I just stuck in this ‘serfdom’ mindset? “Civics” seems to be a forgotten subject that needs much more emphasis. That Government is *created by* the people, not something that is just tolerated by the people. That the Constitution is a definitive list of what the government is *commanded to do* not just a list of what it can’t do, nor what it *may do* whenever it wants to. People spend too much time focusing on those first few Amendments that list some things the government is Forbidden from doing. As if that was all that mattered; that the government can do _anything_, except what is specifically listed. The main text of the Constitution seems to be completely ignored by the people.

    Sorry to have gone off on a tangent; this is the wrong thread to rail against the USA’ian “federal system” and the citizens thereof.

  34. Trebuchet says

    …Charles’s doddering brain…

    Ageist! I’m a couple of months older than Chuckles. It’s nothing to do with his age, he’s been an idiot forever. (/rant)

    Meanwhile, I learned last night that the Royal Family are all werewolves, Queen Victoria having been bitten by one in an early episode of the 2nd series of Doctor Who. Explains a lot, actually.

  35. stevem says

    Moderators:

    How do you put “angle brackets” in the text without them getting eaten up by the HTML thingie?
    I keep using “angle brackets” (without HTML intent) and finding the contents of those brackets vanished.

  36. says

    Not sure the “B Ark” is the right analogy. If memory serves, the rest of that society ended up dying because they got rid of all the “useless” people.

    There was a plague contracted from unwashed telephone booths.

  37. pianoman, Heathen & Torontophile says

    I was unaware of Charles’ fondness for homeopathy. Honestly, I thought this would be another article about Kate. You know, the woman who married William and now has become the new Diana? the woman whose morning plops have to be reported in the press and discussed for their royal odour and firmness?

    But Charles, your mere endorsement of quackery still holds enough sway to convince some of the cringworthy, obsessive stalkers in your country to accept it. When they’re finished taking pictures of Kate’s shoes or the used Royal Diaper from their kid that some servant changed, they can try out your holistic remedies.

  38. Rey Fox says

    I doubt that anyone has entails strong enough to strangle anyone with.

    queue Walton…

    Cue Walton.

    You voted for George W Bush. Twice…

    Not really.

  39. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    You know when America broke the other week because the Republicans couldn’t shut up about Obamacare (i.e. when they couldn’t agree a budget)? I have a friend who is doing American Studies at Uni and he tells me this has happened only once before, about 35 years ago in Australia. Because Australia is part of the Commonwealth, the Queen is still technically their head of state. Apparently the Queen simply sent her representative over there and fired the entire government.

    You have to admit, they have their uses.

  40. sonofrojblake says

    @robinjohnson, 27 (and Kit Bathgate, and latsot)

    the fact that he’s ended up with someone he actually loves[...]is one of the few things he has going for him.

    Agreed. It’s hardly the majority view, though, is it?

    Diana cheated too

    Ah, yes, but she was very shrewdly sold to the public as a victim – poor young, er… daughter of a Viscount, born in a house that belongs to the Queen.

    She crucially (a) was cheated on first (b) plastered on the eyeliner and looked through her lashes at Bashir when confessing and most of all (c) died young enough to “leave a good looking corpse” before she did anything too much like Jackie Kennedy by marrying or even worse having another child with someone undesirably forrin-looking or (whisper it) Muslim, or something.

    Whatever your personal opinion, and whatever the rational interpretation of Charles’s actions, it is unarguable that his personal life, behaviour and opinions have been an ongoing PR disaster for the family for decades. Public opinion generally seems to hold that his mother and sister are OK, his dad’s a massive racist but-hey-he’s-old-what-do-you-expect, his brothers are dolts but largely harmless (apart from the, y’know, shilling for arms traders), and his kids are, in order of birth, the future saviour of the monarchy and an obvious bastard (in the technical sense).

  41. moarscienceplz says

    The Brits will never abolish the monarchy. Each royal is worth her/his weight in tourism gold, much of it forked over by Americans.

  42. abewoelk says

    I have the same opinion of the monarchy as everyone else here, but I think you’re mostly missing the point of why it’s not going away any time soon, which is the same reason religion isn’t going anywhere any time soon. People love tradition, pomp, pageantry, hierarchy, and having something to look up to. I sometimes wonder if the need to grovel is somehow hard wired into the human psyche. Yes, it’s irrational, but it has huge emotional appeal, and we all know how well reason does against emotional appeal.

    Just spend five minutes watching this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWwK3z3GvzY

    and compare it to an American president giving the state of the union address. Everyone, even the political opposition, is sitting quietly and respectfully and deferentially, because that’s what humans seem to want to do when they perceive themselves as being in the presence of someone better than they are.

  43. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Thumper:

    They do, in fact, have their uses. However, it is not as simple as the Whitlam Affair (aka “The Dissolution”) is portrayed in your example. The governor-general was present in Australia the whole time, having been appointed by the Queen at the direction of the previous PM (the Queen always appoints the person selected by the PM). The previous PM was a member of the other party. Despite losing the election, the opposition felt that they would win a new election (there was low turnout in some conservative places and high turnout in some liberal ones). The unexpected election of a liberal PM would, presumably, motivate conservatives to vote at a more normal rate (if not an increased one) in a new election. So the conservative minority blocked the budget even though votes existed to pass it through parliamentary procedural hurdles. Then the GovGen that had been hand-picked by the last conservative PM fired the liberal PM, called new elections which were in fact one by conservatives.

    It was slimy, and the queen’s rep did not, in fact, come out of it looking good.

    it’s true that having a mostly useless head of state who exists primarily to step in when things get out of whack provides a check on some abuses of power. But it can also be a source of power abuses.

    In general, having the checks is probably better than not, in a country that largely keeps with parliamentary sovereignty like Australia. Whether the Dissolution is a good example of the value of an adjunct head of state is another question entirely.

  44. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @abewoelk:

    I sometimes wonder if the need to grovel is somehow hard wired into the human psyche. Yes, it’s irrational, but it has huge emotional appeal

    I don’t know about hard wired, but there has been the odd occasion when I’ve enjoyed some groveling….

  45. carlie says

    Monitor note:

    I can see that any slide is being arrested well, but just to clarify for new posters:

    Please do not use any insults that are derived from things other than a person’s opinions. Claiming that Charles is terrible because he’s old is insulting to all old people, claiming that he or his family are ugly is insulting to everyone who doesn’t meet the prevalent beauty standard, etc. Insult all you like, but keep it to things that he has under his direct control and is still making terrible choices about.

  46. says

    We cant vote them out because we are subjects, not citizens.
    I was going to call for a revolutionary war, but over the last few days
    Prof Myers convinced me that they were all stupid.

  47. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @richardelguru #25

    (btw the Last True King™ was St Eadmund—martyred by the Great Heathen Army in 869. Since then the bastards have all been bleedin’ foreigners)

    Huh? By what possible measure? Edmund the Martyr was only King of East Anglia, England didn’t exist then. The Last Saxon King of England was Edmund Ironsides. Edward the Confessor, his half-Norman half-brother who eventually came to the throne after years of exile during which time we had three Danes on the throne, was the one who made all sorts of silly oaths and promises and precipitated the Norman invasion.

    Besides all of which, the Saxons were foreigners in the first place. They invaded just as the Romans were moving out.

  48. says

    @richardelguru #25

    (btw the Last True King™ was St Eadmund—martyred by the Great Heathen Army in 869. Since then the bastards have all been bleedin’ foreigners)

    The last “British” monarch was Henry IIV (Welsh), that is unless you can find a monarch descended from the beaker people.

  49. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @crip dyke

    Thanks for the info; I had only the most basic knowledge of it, having learned of it in casual conversation. I just found it amusing :) though not so much any more. I imagine a lot of people would have found it highly amusing to see the whole US government fired though.

    @sonofrojblake

    Public opinion generally seems to hold that his mother and sister are OK, his dad’s a massive racist but-hey-he’s-old-what-do-you-expect, his brothers are dolts but largely harmless (apart from the, y’know, shilling for arms traders), and his kids are, in order of birth, the future saviour of the monarchy and an obvious bastard (in the technical sense).

    That’s, er… that’s pretty spot on.

    @moarscienceplz

    The Brits will never abolish the monarchy. Each royal is worth her/his weight in tourism gold, much of it forked over by Americans.

    *ding ding ding* We have a winner!

  50. johnbyfleet says

    Nick Gotts@42

    I have no problems whatsoever with Germans or Germany. I lived there for five years. I speak the language. I have friends all over southern Germany. Their kids come to stay with me in the summer holidays. I go there at least six times a year. I might up sticks and go and live there some day soon -as far as I can see Germant probably has the best quality of life in the world. If I have any problem with the “German-ness” of the royal scroungers it is their instant rebranding to Windsors in WW1 – keep the gravy train running at all costs.

    Anurah@36

    Having just posted the above I am somewhat reluctant to point out the Samuel Hahnemann was actually German. Also I am not sure he was a nut. He had some good ideas on health – good diet, proper sanitation, no overcrowded industrial slums, exercise, moderation in alcohol. Unfortunately sugarpillery was not one of his good ideas, to say the least. He did make it up in the absence of germ theory, Avogadros constant and most, if not all, modern chemistry, medicine/biology and physics – the big problem is that so many halfwits still believe in it despite having a wealth of evidence to the contrary.

  51. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Danny Butts

    “Henry IIV”? Do you mean Henry III, or Henry the VII? And no, sorry; all the Kings of England named Henry were of Norman descent. Through the paternal line all the way up to Henry VII, who did indeed have a Welsh father but whose main claim to the throne came through his Norman mother.

    The British are a race of mongrels, none more so than our Royals. And I quite like that :) it’s excellent ammo against the stereotypical pub racist.

  52. Nick Gotts says

    Prince Charles is most likely going to reign as George VII, being Charles III would have unfortunate connotations. – Rick Pikul@43

    I doubt it. If “the Firm” (apparently what the royals call themselves) had thought that, he wouldn’t have been called Charles in the first place. They probably regard Charles I as a martyr, and Charles II, insofar as he has any reputation at all, has a fairly positive one (“Merry Monarch”, romantically hid up an oak tree to avoid capture…).

  53. Desert Son, OM says

    Nick Gotts at #68:

    “the Firm” (apparently what the royals call themselves)

    This makes them seem even more pretentious.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  54. wondering says

    #53 TokenThumper:

    You know when America broke the other week because the Republicans couldn’t shut up about Obamacare (i.e. when they couldn’t agree a budget)? I have a friend who is doing American Studies at Uni and he tells me this has happened only once before, about 35 years ago in Australia. Because Australia is part of the Commonwealth, the Queen is still technically their head of state. Apparently the Queen simply sent her representative over there and fired the entire government.

    You have to admit, they have their uses.

    There’s precedent for that? Shit, what stopping her stomping on the Canadian government? We could use a little of this action right now.

    (Yes, I know. I know. Shhh. I’m fantasizing over QueenE unleashing the corgis on Harper.)

  55. Trebuchet says

    @Carlie, #60:

    Please do not use any insults that are derived from things other than a person’s opinions. Claiming that Charles is terrible because he’s old is insulting to all old people….

    I entirely agree. Unfortunately PZ did exactly that in the second paragraph of original post.

    After a plodding long prologue somberly discussing the history of Charles’s doddering brain encountering 16th century alchemical balderdash and haranguing the British Medical Association with it, and with his founding of various money sinks for bunkum, we get to his toxic effects on the citizenry.

    As I said above, I’m a little older than Charles. I do not consider myself “doddering”.

  56. says

    @71: Well, it would be nice if HM (actually her rep, GG Michaelle Jean) had said to Harper’s prorogue request a few years back: “No, get your ass back up the Hill and govern, or I’ll ask the other bunch to put together a Cabinet and do the job. They seem eager.” But as an unelected HoS, she didn’t have the political cred to do that, even if strictly speaking she wielded the legal power. Now if the GG nominee were chosen by some sort of electoral process — though one that wasn’t too closely tied to the Parliamentary/Prime Minsterial election cycle — he/she would have standing to flex a little muscle that way. The rest of the time, he/she can spend cutting ribbons at new day cares and holding levees at Rideau Hall.

  57. says

    sonofrojblake @ 23:

    and the defining act of his life was to cheat on his wife (widely regarded by the public as one of the most desirable women in the world) with a women who one can most charitably describe as “not as attractive”.

    You know, I am sick to death of this idiotic sentiment. Charles is a fool in many respects, but this ^ nonsense should be left out things. It was well known that he loved this woman before he married, and because of his position forced into marrying someone he didn’t care for. Why in the hell his steady and enduring love for a person comes up for scathing criticism, I don’t know.

    As for the appearance judgements, oh stuff it. It’s to Charles credit (of which there is little) that he’s not so shallow that appearance is the primary thing to him.

  58. Rich Woods says

    The article was in the Daily Torygraph. It does not reflect the majority opinion on Brian and his weird ideas.

    Did anyone who looked at the poll on that DT page notice that the first of the three questions kept changing? Try it a few times and you’ll see it jumps between questions which split the yes/no vote. Then view the results and check the figures. Something fishy is going on.

  59. coffeehound says

    “The Royal family have huge resources and access to everything medicine has to offer, yet they choose homeopathy,” explains Roberts. “I thought, ‘Why would they use it if it doesn’t work?’”

    Because an assload of money is not prophylaxis for confirmation bias.

  60. =8)-DX says

    In a convoluted thread of logic, this is one of the reasons why I hate mandatory formal attire. I’m no less human wearing jeans than a suit – just as princes and duchesses are no better for having been pooped out by the right mum or having a crown on their head.

    I have a similar view of elected officials and clergy. Scientists actually have good reason to be called “doctor” or “professor”, but I’ll be damned if I ever “your excellency” anyone, bow or bend the knee.

  61. says

    I saw an ad today for a homeopathic remedy that touted its extra effectiveness because it was its active ingredient was “concentrated” and my brain broke trying to figure out how that worked.

  62. Desert Son, OM says

    Gwynnyd at #78:

    its active ingredient was “concentrated” and my brain broke trying to figure out how that worked.

    Well, there’s less of it in the solution, obviously.

    Also, cheers and hello to Caine!

    Still learning,

    Robert

  63. zmidponk says

    Speaking as a Brit, I do have to point out that Charles is more or less like your nice, but slightly daft uncle who isn’t quite in touch with reality, so an endorsement of homeopathy by him wouldn’t have that much of an effect, quite frankly, and whether or not the desire for homeopathy to be available on the NHS is as large as 1 in 4 of the population (I’d be surprised if this figure isn’t down to cherry-picked and/or misinterpreted polls), the general trend seems to be of closing down and eliminating what little homeopathy is actually available, despite the best efforts of Prince Charles.

  64. brucej says

    So long as you remember the lesson of the Golgafrinchan B ark….you know, the part where everyone left on Golgafrinch dies of a plague contracted from un-disinfected phones….

  65. says

    Gwynnyd, I wonder if the company making the product you saw doesn’t actually know what homeopathy is, and just thinks it’s another word for herbal. I suspect a lot of buyers of homeopathic products don’t have a clue that a real homeopathic product contains no active ingredient.

  66. says

    @83: a real homeopathic product contains no active ingredient.

    …except, notoriously, Zicam, which contained enough zinc to damage olfactory receptors when taken as a nasal spray. The zinc dilution was only on the order of 1X or 2X (ie. 0.1 or 0.01) instead of the 30C (10^-60) more usually found in homeopathics.

  67. says

    Please do.
    The moment his royal highness leaves orbit, the mighty and pure spirit of Princess Diana will return to walk the land, and Albion will be saved from whatever’s upset the Daily Mail readers today.

    Actually, no don’t. Who would cure us of Scrofula without “the royal touch”?

    s with EpiPens.

  68. says

    Please do.
    The moment his royal highness leaves orbit, the mighty and pure spirit of Princess Diana will return to walk the land, and Albion will be saved from whatever’s upset the Daily Mail readers today.

    Actually, no don’t. Who would cure us of Scrofula without “the royal touch”?

  69. says

    @77: Scientists actually have good reason to be called “doctor” or “professor”

    ….and interestingly, now that I hobnob with a fair number of scientists, philosophers and assorted other Ph.D. level scholars, I find none of them seem to want to be addressed by title. It’s all “PZ” and “Larry” and “John”…

  70. geroche says

    Robro @35

    And in other news on the prince-in-waiting: Charles turns 65 tomorrow and is “readying his paperwork to claim his pension” of $175/week. Hard to imagine what he needs more money from the public larder for. I guess it’s just the principle of the thing.

    I think this verges on dishonesty. You linked an article that, like other articles on the subject, reports Prince Charles will contribute the government pension he qualifies for to a charity for the elderly. That’s hardly the impression your post gives, which suggests he’s pocketing a few more dollars from the public because, hey, it’s his by law.

  71. Amphiox says

    …except, notoriously, Zicam, which contained enough zinc to damage olfactory receptors when taken as a nasal spray.

    Don’t know what the makers of Zicam are advertising it to be (since, y’know, wholly unregulated market and all), but if they claim there’s zinc in there, then it isn’t a homeopathic remedy, even if they’re claiming it is.

  72. Amphiox says

    Of course, at this point in history, the British Monarchy is pretty much homeopathic anyways….

  73. says

    Charles has been notoriously hard of thinking since childhood. No worse than George W Bush, but USAnians only had to put up with him for two terms. We’ve had Charlie’s mum since 19-bloody-53 and nobody ever voted for her. She’s not the brightest bulb in the pack either, and has never ever been seen smiling at anyone who’s not a horse.
    I don’t see why being a tourist attraction should qualify anyone to be a head of state, but Versailles gets more visitors than Buck House, and Lego Land gets more visitors than Windsor Castle. Frankly as a tourist attraction they are pretty poor value for money as you hardly ever see them.
    If it were up to me I’d replace the lot of them with a collection of totem poles. It would save on maintenance, and we wouldn’t have to listen to idiotic opinions about homoeopathy and architecture, or put up with nauseating sycophancy on the media (yes, BBC, I mean you) every time a royal personage farts, scratches her or his arse, or reproduces.

  74. says

    Thumper @66

    “it’s excellent ammo against the stereotypical pub racist.”

    And you know what relying on stereotypes make one.

    I watched Godfrey Bloom get away with saying far more racist things on HIGNFY last night that you would ever hear at my local, and none of the “nice” folk of the BBC pulled him up on it*.
    I am sure Godfrey went to a public school.

    to be fair, Victoria Mitchell Cohen did attempt to confront both his sexism and racism, but she got no support. Also, as she has a potty mouth I’d like to claim her as one of my own.

  75. sonofrojblake says

    @Daz, 56: Yes, the minds of the tabloid-buying, monarchy-supporting public are thoughtlessly sexist and obsessed with appearance. That’s rather the point. But hey, thanks for re-re-re-iterating it.

    @Caine, 74: well, again, yes, this sentiment IS idiotic. Thanks for getting it. And then stating it again.

    To be clearer, since apparently comprehension is an issue: Charles’s position in the public mind in Britain has for the best part of two decades been defined by his spurning of Diana in favour of Camilla. The public in this country had a bizarre crush on Diana, forgiving her infidelities while at the same time condemning his, and when she died they went collectively insane for a couple of weeks. This may sound like hyperbole to those who weren’t here to see and hear it, but it’s not. Camilla has occupied a basically impossible position in the public eye with dignity and discretion, presumably with an eye to history and on the assumption that the public surely couldn’t keep on hating her and insisting that she’d never be Queen forever. And she seems to have been right. See this article: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/13/prince-charles-65-new-kind-heir . In particular,

    he will remain controversial to many, and has not been widely loved since the fairytale early days of his first marriage, a fairytale long since revealed to have been illusory, the prince is slowly winning back public affection. After terrible approval ratings for a decade after Diana’s death, recent polls have at last placed him above Prince William as the nation’s favoured choice to succeed the Queen

    For over a decade, the public (apparently labouring under the illusion they get a vote or something) has been telling anyone with a clipboard that the millenia-old rules of succession should be ignored, and the crown should skip a generation and go straight to William. A large part of this is down to the idea that we were promised the fairytale Queen Diana, not the Disney villainess Camilla, and that Camilla should therefore never be allowed to be Queen.

    The status of this tabloid-fabricated position as utter, utter bollocks is so obvious I thought it went without saying. Perhaps it’s only obvious if you live here, amongst the sheep who’ll buy a chocolate teapot if it’s got a picture of the Duchess of Cambridge on it.

    I thought some more about this during the evening, and the following occurred to me: first of all, Chuck’s influence on the behaviour and particularly the healthcare choices of the public is tiny. I’d guess that it’s entirely possible that his endorsement may have, if anything, a net negative effect, for two reasons. First, he’s well known to be a little nutty (talking to plants being just the most obvious example, so if he endorse *anything* it’s tainted by association. Second, when it’s mentioned he’s into it, there’s usually a rentaskeptic available to appear on the news to remind everyone that hey, you know what, it’s sugar pills with nothing in it and it works no better than placebo. Given Charles’s high profile, these bodies follow him around the TV, newspapers and internet reminding people, in context, that this treatment is wishful thinking based on nonsense. Merely by existing, he makes the targetting of that important message easier and more effective. So, swings and roundabouts.

  76. Trebuchet says

    Don’t know what the makers of Zicam are advertising it to be (since, y’know, wholly unregulated market and all), but if they claim there’s zinc in there, then it isn’t a homeopathic remedy, even if they’re claiming it is.

    It’s definitely labled “homeopathic”. They’re exploiting a loophole in the idiotic US law governing homeopathy, which basically forbids the FDA from regulating it at all. The ingredients are “zincum acetium, 1X; zincum gluconeum, 1C” which in English means 10% zinc acetate and 1% zinc gluconate. Or maybe it’s the other way around, I forget. In any case, it’s enough active ingredients to do actual good or actual harm. But since zinc has never proven to be actually useful for colds, it’s really just the later.

  77. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    Charles is most likely going to reign as George VII, being Charles III would have unfortunate connotations

    Doh. It would have been excellent rhyming slang. :-)

    I doubt it …

    There is hope!

    To be fair, he is giving his pension to a pensioners’ charity. To be also fair, he’s not getting Gift Aid on it.

  78. says

    sonofrojblake #93 – Yes, and had you initially made it clearer that you were merely quoting the sexism propagated by the gutter press, you might not now be feeling the need to patronise the multiple individuals who appear to have independently read you as expressing such views yourself. A little less condescension and a little more awareness of the possibility that the problem lies with your communication, not our comprehension, please.

    And as I also live here, so much for that theory. It’s possible to be appropriately cynical about the Royals and also to judge Di and Camilla on appearances. In fact, you rather undercut yourself by pointing out the upsettingly large number of people who apparently don’t think it so obvious that it’s ‘utter, utter bollocks’. Is it so beyond belief that some of them might read Pharyngula?

    As you say, chances are it’s swings and roundabouts in terms of Charles’ effect on public opinion; I’m more concerned about what’s going on behind the scenes. Who can say what effect he’s having among those who may or may not believe in alternative medicine but who do care about such things as the Honours List?

  79. Brisvegan says

    Couple of quick comments on the discussion of the Australian double dissolution upthread:

    The double dissolution is a constitutional remedy for deadlock between our houses of parliament under s57 of Australia’s Commonwealth Constitution. The Governor General or Queen can’t just do it on a whim. There are strict pre-requisites for non-passage of bills to trigger it, which have only been fulfilled and used the one time.

    Someone (Caine? maybe should say someone awesome, then :) ) proposed that the double dissolution led to different, higher conservative voter turnout. This was not really the case. Australia is one of very few countries in the world with compulsory voting in our state and federal elections. As eligible voters may be fined for not voting (which rarely happens), turnout is generally pretty consistent. From 1925-2012 voting rates never dropped below 93% of eligible voters, though 2013 saw a drop to 84%. Instead of numbers of people voting changing, what usually happens in Australia is that elections are geared to changing the minds of swinging voters, who make up an electorally-decisive percentage of our electorate. After the 1975 double dissolution, there was a significant swing to conservative in the unalligned section of our electorate.

  80. says

    @#55, moarscienceplz

    The Brits will never abolish the monarchy. Each royal is worth her/his weight in tourism gold, much of it forked over by Americans.

    I’ve seen this argument before, and it is silly — not to say stupid. Does anyone really believe that American tourists will stop spending money on Merrie Olde Englande™ if there ceases to be an active monarchy? It’s not like American tourists in France refuse to visit Versailles because there isn’t a Louis XXII there to smile at horses and pretend he deserves a life of luxury because of an accident of birth. You could shove the whole Royal Family out a 20th-story window and abolish the whole tradition and the tourists would still want to see Buckingham Palace — in fact, they’d actually be happier, because they could see the inside in detail. (And as for the pomp and circumstance: it could be provided as reënactments by actors for a much lower price than the actual high-born bums require in upkeep.)

    @#44, stevem

    I must be “anti-infected” with monarchy-worship. I.E. almost everything I hear as a criticism of our “dear” President is him not doing what only a KING could do. Never-mind the democratic process or the existence of the Congress (as “do-nothing” as they are anyway). All I ever hear is, “The president needs to pass (create) this law, ~ , create jobs, ~ , heal people (i.e. provide health insurance), ~ , reduce spending, ~ , [de/in]crease taxes, ~ , etc. etc.” Why can I only think, “these things only a king could do”? Why don’t people realize this entire list is the job of the Congress, that the President is only empowered to ENFORCE the laws and ADMINISTER them, not CREATE them out of whole cloth?

    You want some other, more valid criticism of Obama? Well, let’s see:

    1. Obama was largely elected because he was supposed to be such a great communicator and speechmaker and, well, “uniter, not a divider”, but he has refused to use his (claimed) ability at speechifying and politicking to support anything worthwhile. He refused to appeal to the public to support any serious health insurance reform, and was, notoriously, the one who shut down all public discussion of both single-payer and the public option, instead landing us with our “let’s give the useless and dishonest private insurance industry a guaranteed profit forever” law we eventually got.

    2. Obama and his administration does sometimes throw its weight behind things — it defends, for example, the NSA spying on absolutely everyone everywhere without a warrant. It defends drone bombing (which even the CIA, which started the program, admits actually causes more terrorism). It mocks people who want an end to the ludicrous and expensive War on Drugs. It tries to deny people legal standing for challenging things like illegal detentions.

    3. In his role as commander of the armed forces, Obama can order them to do pretty much anything not actively against the law, and have anyone who disobeys prosecuted. He never uses this ability to do anything like, say, stopping Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — on the contrary, he drags his feet whenever this ability might actually be used for positive change.

    4. On the other hand, though, Obama does do things by Presidential Fiat (i.e. “things only a king can do”.) He has been continuing the Bush administration’s policy of issuing “signing statements” with laws, usually in ways which (if you believe that “signing statements” have legal force) would exempt the executive branch, and sometimes the whole government, from legal repercussions of rights violations. More worrisome, he actively ignores Congressional authority on military operations — he ordered the bombing of Libya against official, voted-on Congressional disapproval, and his delegates to the press made it clear that he would ignore any such vote on Syria as well (but fortunately Russia intervened).

    and, damningly,

    5. Obama actively and purposely helps the Republicans. It was revealed a few months ago that (and I’m going to give a link here because I know that Democratic partisans refuse to admit this) Obama wanted to cut Social Security and Medicare all along, and met with Republican leadership to try to come up with ways to do so. In light of this, Occam’s Razor suggests that some of his other less-than-stellar record on the issues may have been similarly motivated.

    Après lui, Hillary Clinton. Joy.

  81. lpetrich says

    As an American, I note the interest of many of my fellow Americans in those professional celebrities, and I ask:

    Was the American Revolutionary War fought in vain?

    I think that Queen Liz II has been doing a good job in staying out of trouble, because over the last century, deposed monarchies have almost always stayed deposed. I know of only two monarchy restorations in all that time: Spain and Cambodia.

  82. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Nick Gotts:

    Forbidden Snowflake@17

    Great idea! I think a steampunk alternative history in which Queen Victoria’s techno-scientific genius revolutionises warfare and leads to the reconquest of the revolting colonials might work…

    That actually sounds freaking awesome. It just needs to look and feel sufficiently different from Girl Genius, that other steampunk dystopia in which monarchy is clever.

  83. says

    @Forbidden Snowflake #101:

    That actually sounds freaking awesome. It just needs to look and feel sufficiently different from Girl Genius, that other steampunk dystopia in which monarchy is clever.

    IIRC, it has specifically been mentioned in Girl Genius a couple of times that the queen of England is a spark, so actually it’s already partway there. (It was also established that “The Americas” are inaccessible and semi-legendary; one of the bonus content things was a list of experimental attempts to travel there from Europe by various mad science means.)

  84. sonofrojblake says

    A little less condescension and a little more awareness of the possibility that the problem lies with your communication

    Just doing my best to fit in with my perception of the general tone of comments on this blog. If I’m coming across as condescending and oblivious that other people might not understand every single nuance of everything I write at first blush – well, it’s working. Thanks! :-)

    It’s possible to be appropriately cynical about the Royals and also to judge Di and Camilla on appearances

    Thanks for ‘splainin’.

    Is it so beyond belief that some of [the people so benightedly stupid they don't instinctively reject the tabloid narrative] might read [and comment on] Pharyngula?

    I assumed a higher standard. I shall revise my assumptions. Thanks.

  85. donalbain says

    In defence of the monarchy, there would be wealthy celebrities in favour of stupid ideas even in a republic. At least this way at least one of them doesn’t vote.

  86. Forbidden Snowflake says

    IIRC, it has specifically been mentioned in Girl Genius a couple of times that the queen of England is a spark, so actually it’s already partway there.

    It would strange for the queen of anything not to be a spark in the GG universe, but I don’t remember the claim being made. I’ll take your word for it until my next archive binge.

    (It was also established that “The Americas” are inaccessible and semi-legendary; one of the bonus content things was a list of experimental attempts to travel there from Europe by various mad science means.)

    “Bonus materials”? Are those online or in the printed books?

    *********
    To make this a little less of topic, Girl Genius-style clever monarchy would be entrenched and unmovable way beyond real-world monarchy, if it wasn’t for the constant warfare and ever-looming Other-fueled chaos. The universe is dystopian; the comic isn’t simply because a different genre was chosen.

  87. Holms says

    @53:
    Crip has provided the context of that event, I’ll provide some of the more general history of the position.

    It should be noted that the Governor General (the Queen’s representative you refer to) has actually been exclusively Australian since 1965, and has been chosen solely by the Australian prime minister (rather than the English monarch) since 1930. Better still, that 1930 appointment wasn’t notable purely for setting an unbroken precedent: it was also done against the will of the monarch of the day, George V. He wanted to appoint a Brit, the Australian PM wanted an Aussie, the PM won the tussle and England has not had a hand in the decision since.

    So, the GG is exlusively Australian appointed Exclusively by the Australian PM who in turn is elected by the Australian population… not exactly an example of British rule. The idea that the GG is a representative of the monarchy is mere formality, similar to the way the queen supposedly appoints the British PM each election, but is actually only perfoming a formality rather than exercising real power.

    I saw an ad today for a homeopathic remedy that touted its extra effectiveness because it was its active ingredient was “concentrated” and my brain broke trying to figure out how that worked.

    FUCKING PRICELESS!

  88. Nick Gotts says

    Forbidden Snowflake@101,

    Ah, I’m not a comic reader, so I’m unfamiliar with Girl Genius. I’m sorry they’ve pinched our idea before we even thought of it :-p

  89. carlie says

    About that pension business: sure, he says he’s going to donate it to a charity. But if you think about the entire cost effect of it, he’s causing more paperwork to be done, increasing some clerk’s workload, and increasing the costs born by the pension system in managing his account and issuing the checks every month, all to take money that is in a pot of the public sector for retirees and shuffling it to one of his pet project private charities, which serves only a small subset of the public. So on the whole, he’s still using public resources to the detriment of the public. If he had made a public show of deciding NOT to collect his pension, that could have served as a model and social pressure for other wealthy or well-off citizens that the, dare I say, noble thing to do is to forego the payments if you don’t actually need them.

  90. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @holms:

    So, the GG is exlusively Australian appointed Exclusively by the Australian PM who in turn is elected by the Australian population… not exactly an example of British rule. The idea that the GG is a representative of the monarchy is mere formality, similar to the way the queen supposedly appoints the British PM each election, but is actually only perfoming a formality rather than exercising real power.

    Yes…and no. Constitutionally the Crown is not bound by the election (to confirm a PM) nor by a PM’s “suggestion” of a nominee (to GG or any other such position that requires her assent). This is why I refer to the Crown as an “adjunct head of state”. Of course, the huge sums of money given to the royal family are controlled by parliament, and the queen doesn’t want to piss them off. Likewise, remittances to the UK from Aussie have to pass through the Aussie government’s hands: they can be withheld, should the Aussie parliament desire. And money is only one of a number (not a huge number, but still, enough that i wouldn’t want to pin it down) of sources of leverage against the crown.

    So the queen now (or a future Crown later) has reason to follow established traditions of Parliamentary -not Crown- sovereignty. Yet constitutionally, the failure to require the crown to act in a particular way means that if things are so bad that the Crown can subvert democracy and get away with it, then the Crown is free to step in to resolve a mess precisely when it is at its worst.

    Think of the Rob Ford-the-crack-smoking-mayor-of-Toronto scandal. Leave aside whether drug use that does not otherwise have an effect on apparent controversy *should* be a reason to dismiss someone from office. The fact is that this is perceived – in this context of Drug War – as a crisis in which the mayor should step down. But he won’t and the municipal council does not have the power to compel his resignation. If he was answerable to a Crown rep that was subject to counter-pressures (like not pissing off the people with the purse strings), the Crown rep could wait until the scandal seemed big enough that the people wouldn’t rebel against the Crown (and demanding a slash in its budget or some similar retaliation) and then just sack the guy.

    Having an adjunct head of state can be an advantage, as I said earlier. It’s just not apparent that the Whitlam Affair is an example of such an advantage.
    ==============
    @Brisvegan:

    It wasn’t Caine who suggested turnout – that was only me.

    Thanks for the correction on turnout. I had read that certain jurisdictions were “unusually X” where X was a party name. I misread that to mean “unusually X in turnout” rather than simply in voting. I was wrong. Looks like it’s not clear why swing voters went with Labour’s Whitlam but weeks later went with the conservative Liberals. I am a little smarter this morning b/c of you.

  91. teejaykay says

    I wish I’d seen this post earlier, because it threw me back some years. I like to think that part of the reason I passed my university entrance exam was because one of the options was to comment on Prince Charles and the royal family. I hope whoever read my exam paper got a proper laugh when I spent two hand-written pages dissing the Prince of Wales. Unsurprisingly, my opinion remains the same. Passive-aggressively facepalming even as I think of the man.

  92. photoreceptor says

    I am a Brit but left the not-so-sunny shores many years ago because of a certain nightmarish figure known as the Iron Lady (may she rest in torment). My friends and I couldn’t give a toss about the royal family, they existed and she looked on the stamps but other than that… I have ended up living in France, where homeopathy is taken very seriously, most doctors will first prescribe some small pill of diluted herbal extract for whatever you may suffer from (and it’s reimbursed by the social security). It is all rather faith-based. But who remembers that great paper published in Nature about the “memory of water”? Fascinating stuff about how water molecules would form scaffolds around drugs and retain the healing powers even when diluted billions of times… total bullshit funded by the homeopathic industry.

  93. adamk says

    The monarchy was ruined by those damned Tudors. Henry VII and Elizabeth of York messed up the Wars of the Roses, and the drama descended into soap opera. They need to start beheading people, clapping them into the Tower, usurping, and having little sword and halberd battles again. Get history started back up.

  94. Rick Pikul says

    I doubt it. If “the Firm” (apparently what the royals call themselves) had thought that, he wouldn’t have been called Charles in the first place. They probably regard Charles I as a martyr, and Charles II, insofar as he has any reputation at all, has a fairly positive one (“Merry Monarch”, romantically hid up an oak tree to avoid capture…).

    Charles III = Bonnie Prince Charlie

    As for having a first name he wouldn’t reign under: You mean like his grandfather, (George VI), and great-great grandfather, (Edward VII), who were both named Albert? Furthermore, Edward VII named his first son Albert as well.

    For those who don’t know, Albert is near the top of the list of names which will not be used by a British king.

    Besides, Prince Charles has even said he would probably choose George when he ascends to the throne.

  95. alexmcdonald says

    NHS Lothian Takes Decision on Homeopathy Services
    The decision to move away from providing homeopathic services in Lothian was made by NHS Lothian’s board at their monthly meeting today (26 June). This followed recommendations made by the Healthcare Governance Committee and is in line with the recent survey results of the homeopathy public consultation.

    74% of my fellow NHS Lothian users decided that it was a wast of money.

  96. says

    @#105, Forbidden Snowflake

    “Bonus materials”? Are those online or in the printed books?

    IIRC, it was one of the extra pages back when it was actually being published as a regular comic book (which is basically “Book One”). Sadly, those extra pages, like the letters pages, aren’t reprinted in the collections or online. I thought I still had them around somewhere; if I can find them, I’ll see if I can find the page in question.

    @#107, Nick Gotts

    Ah, I’m not a comic reader, so I’m unfamiliar with Girl Genius. I’m sorry they’ve pinched our idea before we even thought of it :-p

    Oh, well, you’re in luck, because the creators — Phil and Kaja Foglio — have made the whole darn main story available online, and are now publishing it as a 3-times-weekly webcomic before issuing print collections, so you can read all of it for free. It’s very funny. You can go to the main website, or start reading from the beginning.

    And, because the Foglios are good people (as well as being funny), they have also made their excellent old sci-fi comics of Buck Godot, Zap Gun For Hire available as well. The 8-issue story The Gallimaufry is terrific (and incidentally the online version actually includes the plot-related extra pages from the comic book!).

  97. says

    Aha! I found the Girl Genius comic issues almost immediately. I won’t reproduce the whole thing, because it’s under copyright and also two whole pages of text. But I’ll give you the beginning and the ending. :)

    Reaching the Americas: One Mad Scientist’s Approach
    by Professor Emeritus Jeff Vogel, PhD

    Abstract: A variety of potential techniques for sending a person to the Americas are given. Results of attempted use of these techniques are described. Blame is assigned.

    The question of how to send a person across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas in a content, sentient, whole state is a heavily discussed open question in the contemporary literature. We have attempted to do so in a variety of ways, with results of varying effectiveness and horror.

    Methodology: The state allocated a pool of Convicts for our attempts. Each convict was a male Caucasian weighing between 60 and 100 kg. Each had a swarthy complexion, a beard, a foul disposition, and a gruff, pirate-like voice. The Convicts were each offered a substantial reward if they made the journey to the Americas successfully. Unwilling Convicts were heavily sedated with Rum.

    Attempt 1: Swallowed By Whale
    Following long-established Biblical precedent, we believed that a Convict might be able to successfully cross the ocean in the belly of a whale. With some difficulty, we were able to convince a westward-bound whale to swallow a Convict.
    Result: Stomach acids dissolved Convict.
    Estimated Chance of Technique Succeeding In Future: %0.000

    Attempt 2: Swallowed By Whale, Revision 1
    Exactly the same as previous technique, but this time we pumped the whale’s stomach first.
    Result: Convict suffocated.
    Estimate Chance of Success: %0.000

    Attempt 3: Swallowed By Whale, Revision 2
    Exactly the same as previous technique, but this time we gave the convict scuba gear and a tank of oxygen.
    Result: Whale swam off. Not seen again. We wish Convict the best of luck.
    Estimated Chance of Success: %0.003

    Attempt 4: Dolphin Transport
    We located a group of friendly dolphins and convinced them, with gifts of fish, to drag Convict across to the Americas. Convict would cling to dolphin’s fin.
    Result: shortly after journey began, convict was eaten by a whale.
    Estimated Chance of Success: %0.000

    [...]

    Sadly, at this point, the combined lack of funding and Convicts brought a sad end to our experiments.

    Assignation of Blame For Failure: First, we blame the Atlantic Ocean, for its size, its ferocity, and the uncooperative nature of its whales. Second, we blame the laws of physics for being so cruel to the elegant theories we devised. Finally, we blame our convicts for their lack of faith in us and the experiments we used them in. Their bad attitudes were very harmful to the morale of the good men and women who wanted only to advance the cause of Science.

    Conclusion: The problem of how to send someone to the Americas is sadly, still open. Fortunately, we have a number of new ideas for how the crossing might be completed, and we will begin to test them out as soon as the next load of Convicts arrives.

  98. lpetrich says

    I once did some research on the monarchy question, and I found something very interesting. Monarchy has been almost universal in nations larger than city-states, and some monarchies have lasted centuries. The Pharaonic and the Chinese monarchies are likely the champions at 2500+ years, even though they have had some discontinuity.

    But something has happened over the last couple centuries, especially the last century. The beginning of the end is, I think, the American Revolution and George Washington’s refusal to crown himself king. The American Revolution inspired the French Revolution, and it inspired Latin American nations to become independent. But the French Revolution was an awful advertisement for republicanism, and many nation-builders in Europe preferred monarchs until World War I. However, Latin American nations have mostly been republics, even if often not very democratic ones. The biggest exception was Brazil, but it also eventually became a republic.

    World War I destroyed four big monarchies, and most of their successors have had no taste for establishing new ones, even undemocratic successors like Communists. World War II doomed even more, with the Communists overthrowing some and the Italians voting theirs out of existence for being too close to Benito Mussolini. Greece’s monarchy fell for much the same reason in 1974.

    Most post-WWII post-colonial nations have been republics, with the main exceptions being several Middle Eastern and North African ones — Britain liked monarchies there. But even some of those have fallen, those of Egypt, Iraq, and Libya.

    But I’ve found it hard to find out why that had happened, why monarchy has fallen so far. Queen Liz must be aware of how political upheavals have doomed many monarchies, but Prince Charles seems much more reckless.

  99. Brisvegan says

    @Crip Dyke, 110

    So sorry that I confused you and Caine. You are, however, both seriously awesome!

    As to the change in voting, Whitlam had held government since 1972, with an election in 1974. In early 1975, his government had done a bunch of then-radical stuff, like enact anti-racial discrimination law, create a national no fault divorce system, hand land back to the traditional owners, reform social security, create a socialised medical system etc. As a result of these many excellent changes, and a government loan scandal, he became unpopular with large chunks of society.

    I apologise that I was incorrect about the number of double dissolutions Australia has had. 1975 is the scandalous one, because it was done against the wishes of the PM. We have actually had six.

    As to the Monarchy, a lot of Australians are republican, but we haven’t yet carried a referendum to change our head of state. Charles on the thrown could be a boon to our republican movement, if a change to William was not rapid.

  100. Forbidden Snowflake says

    The Vicar:

    Oh, thank you so much! I love me some bonus materials. I recently ordered a used copy of Book One, but until it gets here, I haven’t the foggiest about what edition it came from and whether it contains anything but the bare bones. So I appreciate the glimpse :)

  101. says

    @Forbidden Snowflake:

    I love me some bonus materials. I recently ordered a used copy of Book One, but until it gets here, I haven’t the foggiest about what edition it came from and whether it contains anything but the bare bones.

    I think all the editions of book one contain the same thing, which is to say: book one’s worth of the comic plus the 8-page story “Agatha Heterodyne and the Electric Coffin”. The other methods of reaching the Americas are not reprinted — and neither are the “secret messages” and code wheel which came in the individual issues, although I think they posted all that online anyway. Most of the stuff from the individual issues was cutouts and “secret messages”, but there was also the “Reaching the Americas” stuff already mentioned (and partially reproduced) above, “The Surviving Transcript of the Sixth Annual Symposium on NEW SCIENCE Faithfully Recorded & Rescued by Prof. Cheyenne Wright: Acting Secretary”, “On The Status of The Americas.”, “Transylvania Polygnostic University Library Quote Collection: Specimen #1″, “Professor M. Anners Answers Your Etiquette Questions”, “A Standard Waiver to be Distributed to all Students Enrolling for the Fall Quarter at Transylvania Polygnostic University”, a map of “modern” Europe (England looks about like it will after the icecaps melt), a page of “The Daily Gnostic” (“Know Enough to Be Afraid”), 3 pages of an old Phil Foglio story called “Time Release” which is not actually a Girl Genius story “but an interesting piece of history, and in a similar spirit”, “Agatha Heterodyne 1-minute Mystery: ‘Where are my socks?!’”, a Jägermonster puzzle about hats, a Krosp-and-Agatha cutout block puzzle , and some of the “Jägershots” comics (which are online, and I think were reprinted in one of the books). There may even be more; I stopped collecting the individual issues after #13, and I’m not sure if there were any more (and obviously if there were I don’t know what else they contain).

    To bring us slightly — say a micrometer or so — back towards being on-topic, the “Status of the Americas” thing I mentioned in the preceding paragraph (which I had forgotten) settles that particular question — in the Girl Genius universe, the Americas did have civilization, possibly even purely indigenous (there’s a “spark” mentioned who is apparently supposed to be native american), but all communications have been cut off since the cataclysm of 17 years prior, and nobody who has gone to look has returned. There is reason to suspect that the land, at least, is still there, but attempts to establish contact petered out and are (as of the beginning of the story) actively forbidden by Wolfenbach, more or less because so much of Europe was destroyed that it isn’t worth pouring resources which might be better employed into the effort.

    I’m fairly certain that somewhere in the story, it’s mentioned that when England sank — which is a repeatedly mentioned — it was the royal family who saved the country by building undersea cities, presumably in domes (London is routinely referred to as “the glass city”), but I can’t find the reference. (I think it’s something Wooster says.) But it is also definitely stated that there are non-”spark” royal families, so it can’t simply be assumed.

  102. Forbidden Snowflake says

    *a bit overwhelmed*
    *only got into this stuff two months ago*

    Wow, and I thought the online edition contained a lot of whimsical bonus stuff.
    Do the individual issues of which you speak more or less parallel the current division into books?

  103. says

    @#122, Forbidden Snowflake

    Actually, I just checked. The collected volume 1 is the “story” parts of issues 1 through 3 of the comic. Volume 2 is issues 4 through 7. Volume 3 is issues 8 through 10. Volume 4 contains 11 through 13 plus some extra parts. (Wikipedia confirms that issue 13 was the final individual one before it started being exclusively published as a webcomic/collections.) Most of the extra content from the individual issues is lost forever to anyone who doesn’t actually have the individual issues — which is par for the course in the comic industry. (Trade paperbacks almost never have that kind of stuff.)

    Also: one of the pieces of “extra” stuff from the individual issues is available online: the “1-Minute Mystery” thing is on the “Short Stories” part of the webcomic site.

    From various things the Foglios have mentioned, the reason there’s so much stuff in the Girl Genius universe is that they have been thinking about and planning the story for over a decade.

  104. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Thanks, The Vicar!

    I now see that some of the stuff in the Short Stories section (like Personal Trainer and Fan Fiction) is mixed into the basic webcomic, and that some of the Short Stories that are mixed into the basic webcomic (like Cinderella) don’t appear in the Short Stories section (probably due to spoiler concerns?). Guess I have some catching up to do.
    I usually like the bonus stuff (except for the horribly timed most recent edition of paper dolls), but they’ll have a hard time topping the Santa Klaus Christmas greeting for hilarity and cheap pun value.

  105. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Thanks, The Vicar!

    Guess I have some bonus reading to do. I usually like the bonus materials (except for the unfortunately timed most recent edition of paper dolls), but they’ll have a hard time beating the Santa Klaus Christmas greeting for hilarity and cheap pun value.