Big Donor?

The company that makes Big Brother (spit!) are making a show in the Netherlands where a dying woman chooses who is to get her kidney. Viewers will be able to send their advice via text

Dutch TV execs are trying to claim it's all altruistic:

"The chance for a kidney for the contestants is 33%," said the station's current chairman, Laurens Drillich. "This is much higher than that for people on a waiting list."

"We think that is disastrous, so we are acting in a shocking way to bring attention to this problem."

The 37-year-old donor, identified only as Lisa, will make her choice based on the contestants' history, profile and conversation with their family and friends.

Hmm, nice.

Big Brother starts again this week, please don't tune in.

Michael Palin in Eastern Europe

Following the classic 'Around the World in 80 days', the excellent 'Pole to Pole', the good 'Sahara' and the forgettable 'Hemingway Adventure', Michael Palin's next adventure looks to be a return to form. It will be in the EU accession countries in Eastern Europe. A well chosen subject with plenty of potential, I think. Looking forward to it.

The Hard Ecu

Fifteen years ago today, the then Chancellor, John Major, proposed a new European currency. This was dubbed the 'Hard Ecu'. The name, ECU, stood for 'European Currency Unit' and was a damned silly name - but one which held for a while as to call it 'Pound, Shilling, Dollar, Franc' or some other name would likely cause turf wars over the name rather than the principle.

The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, said that currency union was unlikely in her lifetime. The Euro entered circulation in 2002, having been traded for several years as a seperate currency. Ironically, despite the involvement of the British in 1990, the UK is one of three EU countries which did not sign up for the Euro.

Wales has vanished!

Maps of the EU are sometimes drawn with non-members removed (as on the euro coin). Eurostat produced a recent map, someone forgot Wales. Oh dear.

Regretable, though I can understand it as the organisation of the UK must be a bit of a mystery to many people who aren't from the UK. The person looking at their list of countries must have known about Scotland and England being part of the UK, but did not know that the same applied to Wales. Therefore when they looked for Wales on their list and came up short, they assumed it was outside the EU.

These things happen, though someone will be walking round with a very red face today.