Jan. 2nd, 2014

chris: (puzzle)
Earlier on today, I was idly wondering whether the increased tensions between China and Japan would be likely to cause World War III. The defence pact between Japan and the US looks like it wouldn't be likely to help avoid this, but further than that, I haven't a clue, don't ask me. However, it did lead to something much more fun.

So I was looking to see whether the UK had any other military alliances that I didn't know about, and while I'm no history buff, there weren't any particularly pleasant or displeasant surprises. On the other hand, on that Wikipedia page, I was amused to see the number of countries that have such things as Honorary Consulates in various parts of the UK. Finland has 26 such things, and in some somewhat unlikely, unglamorous locations that you might not have guessed.

Most entertainingly, one of them is within about a couple of hundred yards or so of where I work. That was a pleasantly surprising discovery! It's not something I had ever heard about before, and not something that I had previously ever thought to look for.

Investigating further, this story about a new Honorary Consul at the other end of the country suggests a little more about what an honorary consulate is and what an honorary consul might do. To begin with, it's an unpaid position, with a considerable emphasis on developing trade and commercial relationships between the two countries. I particularly enjoyed learning that this new Finnish Honorary Consul was already a Norwegian Honorary Consul, which strikes me as charmingly part-time and delightfully multiply international. I also enjoyed learning that this new Finnish Honorary Consul has not yet visited Finland, but this does not disqualify her from the position. (Similarly, the local Swedish Honorary Consul has a lovely web site, in passing suggesting that she does not speak Swedish.)

So, without intending disrespect, I am rather charmed by the thought that being an Honorary Consul might not be quite as big a deal as at first I thought it might be. With this in mind, I wonder whether it might be possible to embed my wife as an Honorary Consul for Georgia? The fact that she's from the state of Georgia, rather than the state of Georgia, might not actually seem to be that much of a handicap.

Sadly I will probably never have reason to visit the local Honorary Consulate; it struck me to be a fun and friendly thing to do, if I'm on shift on Finland's Independence Day (that's December 6th, Finn fans), to pop around at lunchtime waving a big flag and, I don't know, bring some flowers and a cake. It's not that it's a bad idea, it's just that the Finnish Embassy web site strikes me as being more official than consulate-info.com and suggests that the consulate has moved from one shipping company's office to another shipping company's office, about five miles further north. So flowers, cakes and international relations might yet happen, in theory, but it just wouldn't be something I could do by foot on a work lunchbreak...

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Chris

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