Ellowen deeowen

I'm packed and ready to return to London today. It turned out there was space in the suitcase for the Lajoš hat. Back at you soon from the other side of the pond.

Calculation: Plus ça change

The decision by DSS to offer its support to Velimir Ilić rather than Boris Tadić in the first round of Serbia's presidential elections means the following:
  1. DSS has decided to continue its long-term campaign to discredit itself.
  2. Ilić will get between 10 and 12 percent in the first round, which will indicate the number of people who support DSS plus the half percent or so who support him.
  3. This will lead to a panic at the end of January, with international media splashing around headlines claiming that Toma Grobar "won" the first round with his 30-35%.
  4. Koštunjavi will demand major concessions from Tadić for support in the second round, and since Tadić is a fool, he will provide them.
  5. Tadić will be reelected against the same opponent he faced the last time around, by a larger margin than before.
  6. Koštunjavi will continue to exercise power well out of proportion to the popular support his party enjoys, and Tadić will continue to fail to exercise even the power he has.
If these predictions are wrong, you will know in just over two weeks.

A reservation: Look at the comments to the story linked above, and you will find an interesting alternative theory -- that by pumping the Ilić candidacy, DSS is engaged in a fiendishly clever effort to split the potential vote for Nikolić into three camps, with some going to Ilić and some going to SPS candidate Milutin Mrkonjić. This presumably leaves a clearer path for Tadić, who has only LDP as serious competition for votes from the liberal camp. It is plausible, except that it requires attributing cleverness to DSS, and assuming that their leadership has less affinity for SRS than the evidence suggests. Another alternative theory suggested in the comments is that DSS has now made it easier for Tadić's supporters to vote for him, but that might just be some cheap rhetorical point-scoring.


Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

The state flower of Arkansas is Pyrus coronaria, known to you and me as the apple blossom. It is known as "The natural state," and its state songs are "Arkansas" and "Oh Arkansas." It is home to the Razorbacks, was once home to the Glaciercats, whose place was taken by the also defunct RiverBlades and is still home to the (what else?) Arkansas Travellers. At one time it was home to the Arkansaurus fridayi, but now the state mammal is the white-tailed deer, while as far as I know there is no state reptile.

The official state siledžija, although he was armed and financed by another state entirely, is the late Željko Ražnatovic, known to many as Arkan. About this last one, my friend Chris Stewart has just published a biography. I saw an earlier version of the text, and found it to be one heck of a story. Maybe you will enjoy it too.