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Happy Hallowe’en

In Edinburgh tonight, kids will be knocking on their neighbours’ doors and singing an irritating little jingle:

Hallowe’en is coming, the geese are getting fat,
please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
If you haven’t got a penny a ha’penny will do,
if you haven’t got a ha’penny then god bless you!

Hallowe'en cake - Good Gracious CakesThis irritates me because the first I ever heard of this as a Hallowe’en tradition was 20 years ago: Wikipedia claims that the song “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat” was first popularised in 1960 in an album The Last Month of the Year by an American folk-singing group “The Kingston Trio”, Dave Guard, Bob Shane, and Nick Reynolds: and reappeared in Muppets and in Charlie Brown Christmas films. But that seems – typically for Hallowe’en – a very American-orientated explanation: the nursery rhyme is much older than the 20th century and it was always Christmas, not Hallowe’en.

According to multiple websites the “tradition” of singing this particular rhyme is from Belfast/Northern Ireland: how it spread from there to the rest of the UK is unexplained and how a much older Christmas rhyme turned into a Hallowe’en rhyme doesn’t seem to have been questioned by anyone.
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Filed under About Food, Other stuff on the Internet I like, Scottish Culture

This Food Is Not On Masterchef

XKCD recipes
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Filed under About Food, Unanswerable Questions

Why do almost all political parties select men?

No political party today would argue that they ought to be allowed to discriminate against women.

But they all do.

We know they do, because we can look at the results:

Gender balance UK Parliament

That high point in the Labour graph was from 1997, when half of all constituencies with winnable seats were required to have women-only shortlists.

Of course men complained about this, and men’s reasons for complaining are obvious: this system meant that party activists who had earned and deserved a chance of winning a seat, would, in 50% of constituencies likely to go Labour, not stand a chance of being selected. That is to say, in just 50% of constituencies between 1997 and 2003 (when legal challenges from disgruntled men forced Labour to drop the policy) the men were in exactly the same position as women – and they didn’t like it.
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Filed under Elections, Scottish Politics, Women