The United States will shortly lift its 21-year ban on Scotland's national fruit, the haggis:
The "great chieftan o' the puddin-race" was one of earliest casualties of the BSE crisis of the 1980s-90s, banned on health grounds by the US authorities in 1989 because they feared its main ingredient ‑ minced sheep offal ‑ could prove lethal.
Some refined foodies might insist it always has been and always will be: in the words of Robert Burns, in his Ode to a Haggis, looking "down wi' sneering, scornfu' view on sic a dinner". But now, as millions of Scots around the world prepare to celebrate Burns's legacy tonight with an elaborate, whisky-fuelled pageant to a boiled bag of sheep innards, oatmeal, suet and pepper, its reputation has been restored, on health grounds at least.
... Nearly £9m worth were sold in the UK alone last year, the 250th anniversary of Burns' birth, up by 19% on 2008. Richard Lochhead, the Scottish environment secretary, was delighted. "I am greatly encouraged to hear that the US authorities are planning a review of the unfair ban on haggis imports," he said. "We believe that reversing the ban would deliver a vote of confidence in Scottish producers, and allow American consumers to sample our world-renowned national dish."
In other news, the Boeing 747 turns 40 this week, and the Economist has a link to its original story from 1970:
Apart from the very first flight of all, for which around 2,000 people applied for seats, and which would have taken off with a full load of 362 seats (the replacement aircraft that eventually took off to cheers some time after 2 a.m. the following morning was still as full as makes no difference), bookings for 747 flights have been relatively slow coming in. The well-publicised troubles with deliveries, air-worthiness certificates and, most recently, engines, may have something to do with it, but so also has a certain timidity about embarking in a vehicle that most resembles a small flying cinema.
Like cinemas, some seats are better than others. First class apart, with its lounges and spiral staircases, the premium seats are probably the block that runs two abreast down one side of the aircraft, but not those too near the tail, which has a tendency to swish about, nor the extreme front nor behind the engines, where the noise level is above average. Least attractive are the three abreast seats along the opposite wall. The large block of four seats in the centre, with an aisle on either side, turns out to be more comfortable and less cramped than it looks; big men packed four abreast passed an uncomplaining night mainly because the seats themselves are larger than average.
I sincerely hope the 747 I'm flying on tomorrow morning is somewhat newer.