Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The joys of Airport Extreme

Reconsidering that previous post caused Malcolm to review his own activities and practices:
  • He was sat, with iBook, in dining-room (front of the house).
  • Daughter three, with MacBook, was in kitchen (back of the house).
  • Daughter two, with MacBook, was in Yorkshire (two hundred miles away).
  • Daughter one, with MacBook Pro 17 inch (for which all others despise her, out of envy), was in from New Jersey, on couch in sitting room (back of house) and adjacent to:
  • Wife, with MacBook, at desk in sitting room.
All were communicating by broadband and wi-fi, using mac.com and me.com addresses.

So, rather than a shout from room to room (or even sitting in the same space), e-mails were winging from North London to Cupertino (or wherever) and back again.

Bizarre.

And they said it would be television that killed the art of conversation. Sphere: Related Content

The (dubious) joys of an iPod Touch

Malcolm has (count them!) three iPods:
  • a second generation 20Gb metal block, still going strong (and currently devoted to the life and works of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings);
  • a fourth generation (60 Gigs!) which, on Shuffle mode, bridges the half-alive world -- thanks to noise-deadening 'phones -- of Virgin Atlantic's LHR-EWR route; and
  • a newish iPodTouch, on which are installed Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hours. Of which, doubtless, more anon.
Now, the problem.

The iPodTouch (can that be the approved capitalisation?) insists on downloading and preserving all those e-mails that Malcolm instinctively deleted from his main machine. Which means he regularly finds he has several hundred to delete, for a second time.

Some of these can be quite odd. No: he is not speaking here of Nigerian multi-millionaires with a banking proposition. Nor all those invitations to extend his penis or to add Viagra to his daily diet.

Far, far more bewildering.

Consider Harley-Davidson of Los Angeles' offering of a seasonal special: gift-wrapping.

How does one gift-wrap an Ultra Classic Electra Glide in black? (As if. But, oh, pu-leeze!)

Which neatly links to the greetings card Malcolm saw in his local book-shop:
The saddest thing in the world
is to wake up on Christmas morning,
and not be a child.
Sphere: Related Content
This chew cud change your life!

Malcolm cracked up, helpless with laughter, when the BBC website brought him news:

Marinating a steak in red wine or beer can cut down the number of cancer-causing agents produced when it is fried or grilled...
This, at second-hand but none-the-less welcome, from the New Scientist.

Think of the benefits this culinary insight will bring to -- say -- the great State of Wyoming. For there it was that Malcolm recoiled from a breakfast menu and waitress pressing on him the delights of a 160z steak. At 8.30 a.m.

There remain three niggles in Malcolm's mind:
  • Only a month ago, the same BBC was reporting that even a rasher of bacon was carcinogenic. This worries Malcolm because, while he likes his bacon butty (and particular recalls one at the Glasgow railwaymen's cafe, in the company of the great Bob Mitchell), his wife insists on frying the bacon to armour-plating. Therefore, he foregoes the pleasure, except when it's part of an Ulster fry (a.k.a. "death by cholesterol"), cooked by his mother-in-law.
  • He cannot work out how marinated steak counts against his alcohol-intake numbers. Yeah, he regularly deducts the odd double-figure from his weekly total, but the advertising is insidious and worrying. London bus adverts even piggy-back it onto recycling: bastards.
  • The research was done at the University of Oporto. Now, just possibly, could Oporto have a vested interest here?
Sphere: Related Content
Post-prandial reading


Malcolm has regular on-sets of reading block. The period after Christmas is, inevitably, one such. On this occasion it is exacerbated by his cold.

His traditional remedy (for the block: the cold has to take its course, aided on its way by spirituous liquors) is something light. The oeuvre of Carl Hiaasen has been a sure-fire road to recovery from previous bouts. This year, though, he will try something else.

Back in 2004, Giles Milton opened (at least for Malcolm) a new vein of revisionary history. Milton's White Gold tells the story of Thomas Pellow, captured by Salee rovers slave-raiding on Cornwall, who then spent two decades as a Muslim convert in the service of the Sultan of Morocco, before escaping home. As a piece of romantic fiction, Milton's account would stretch credence. Yet it has a solid basis in factual research.

This was followed up by Des Ekin's The Stolen Village, an interpretation of Morat Rais's 1631 raid on Baltimore, West Cork:
... altogether fifty youngsters ‘even those in the cradle’ were abducted, along with thirty-four women and nearly two dozen men.

Today the ‘Sack of Baltimore’ has been virtually forgotten by the world.

Of the 107 abducted from Baltimore, only two -- both women -- returned. Ekin's is not the best-written book in sight, and his first-hand accounts are far slighter than those available to Milton. It's a worth-while effort, all the same.

In defence of his desired reputation of being, occasionally, serious, Malcolm is anxious to add that this led onto some serious reading. The history of the attempts to suppress North African piracy focus on the noble actions of the new United States Navy in bringing that about. European governments were prepared to pay the equivalent of Danegeld. Several writers, in different ways, have thereby added their weight to Malcolm's shelf problem: Gregory Fremont-Barnes, Frederick C. Leiner, Richard Zacks and Ian W. Toll are examples. Zacks seems particularly relevant in his narrative of how a handful of US Marines, under William Eaton, sorted the problem on land: compare what the spokespersons for the US Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, are saying about the present Somali pirates.

Now Malcolm aims to overcome his reading-block with a double-helping of swash and buckle: the "Hector Lynch" novels of Tim Severin (a Doctor of Letters of both TCD and UCC, so give due respect). The starting point here is 1677, and a raid on an unnamed Irish village, in which Lynch, aged seventeen, is taken captive. There can be little coincidence in Severin's home being Timoleague.

Doubtless, Malcolm will report in due course on the efficacy of the remedy. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Solstitial salutations


Ave atque vale!

Yesterday, Malcolm recalled his father's annual ritual, before Christmas Dinner, of beginning the unauthorised version of George R. Sims's epic (and the equally ritual intervention by Mum before the fruity bits).

This morning Malcolm recalled a twice-yearly moment. The old man would look out the window, suck sagely on his pipe, and (depending on which solstice it was) note that "The nights are creeping in/getting shorter." So, this morning, after an exhaustive scan of the football scores, down to the most minor leagues, it would have been:
  • Go through the tasks of cleaning bowl, rodding out pipe, inserting 'baccy.
  • Light up.
  • Suck sagely.
  • Turn to window.
  • Make appropriate comment.
Now Malcolm, a non-smoker since fags went up to 4/6d a packet of 20, has to do the monologue for himself.

Had he his way, Malcolm would have been on, above and even under the chill plain of Meath this morning, in the Boyne Valley, at Newgrange, one of the select score with a chance of catching the view above (December 21st 2003, by photographer Fran Caffrey).

Instead, he had to try the next best thing, and catch it on the Web (replays available). Even that went wrong: the Redmond Fourth Reich had invited only users of Windows Media Player to the party. Bastards.

The edited highlights of 2007, with music (inevitably) by Clannad, are on YouTube:



Anyway, at 12.04 pm, Greenwich Mean Time, today, the days started getting longer.

Part 2: the politics of Newgrange to follow.
Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mark Felt the right thing



The death, at the age of 95 no less, of Mark Felt should not and does not go unmarked.

It had to be done properly, and it had particularly to be done at and by the Washington Post. It falls to Mark Stuever, on the front page of the third section of today's paper, to do it justice:
He was Deep Throat, ya know? Without a single byline he inspired thousands and thousands of campus misfits to get journalism degrees, each one of them in pursuit of bad haircuts, smoking habits and the next Deep Throat, the next huge story. Any "-gate" that followed or may yet follow feels incomplete without its own Deep Throat.
Stuever makes the essential link: it wasn't just what Felt did:
Bernstein [was asked] whether he considered Felt "an American hero," as Felt's family claimed when their father and grandfather "came out" in May 2005. "Look," Bernstein said, "Watergate was a constitutional crisis in a criminal presidency. And he had the guts to say: 'Wait. The Constitution is more important in this situation than a president of the United States who breaks the law.' It's an important lesson, I think, for the country and for people in our business, as well."
Bernstein, of course, will forever be Dustin Hoffman, as much as Woodward has to share space with Robert Redford.

Stuever's other point is equally valid: it was important that the "Woodstein"/Deep Throat story emerged though newsprint. There is a mystical link between the best (and sometimes the worst) of the daily prints and the popular consciousness:
Things have changed. Perhaps too much has changed. But not everything has changed. There was, after all, a line of people around the block at 15th and M streets in November, desperate to buy a copy of the newspaper after Election Day. True, they wanted it as a souvenir, as a thing to stow away in cardboard boxes in closets. The point being, they wanted it.
And that is why, in boxes in Malcolm's attic are relics of past times: British General Elections over forty years, 9/11, and -- most recently -- the Obama election. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the take. On the make.


Several excellent recent reports by The Economist on corporate corruption (graphic above from a previous item), most recently the full skinny on Siemens:
On Monday December 15th Siemens pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and corruption and agreed to pay fines of $800m in America and €395m ($555m) in Germany, in addition to an earlier fine of €201m.

There is something almost touching about the candour and trust with which Siemens went about a very dirty business. Take the three “cash desks” it set up in its offices, to which employees could bring empty suitcases to be filled with cash. As much as a €1m ($1.4m) could be withdrawn at a time to win contracts for its telecoms-equipment division, according to America’s Department of Justice (DoJ).

This article cites Mark Pieth, chairman of the working group on bribery at the OECD, who:

thinks about half of the 30 biggest German and French companies are being investigated or prosecuted for bribing foreign officials.

The numbers go off any scale of reason:
Some $805m was handed over in bribes to foreign officials to help Siemens win contracts over about six years after the firm’s American listing, according to the DoJ. And the brazenness of the firm’s bribe-paying points to a rotten corporate culture pervasive across Germany at the time. “The great majority of companies operating in the international market were well aware that German law—and the law of most OECD countries—allowed foreign bribery and even subsidised this,” says Peter Eigen, the founder of Transparency International, an anti-corruption campaigning group.
The Economist concludes that Europe needs to up its rules to (recently-discovered) US standards.

Who could argue with that?

Well, Europe learned its lesson from the masters: Lockheed got away with it for a quarter of a century, in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Japan. The company seems to have controlled a fair number of right-wing politicians and the odd Royal. Salt Lake City bought the 2002 Winter Olympics with $1M to two dozen IOC officials. For twelve years DaimlerChrysler ran slush funds in Africa, Asia and east Europe. Enron kept it domestic, bribing officials to fabricate tax documents. Last year, Baker Hughes was bribing the officials of Kazakhoil.

Not just the giving either: Halliburton executives were rumbled taking bribes in Kuwait. American Honda executives took kick-backs for favours given.

And so on.

Shall we count the number of US officials caught on the take? Randy “Duke” Cunningham took $2.4M before he went down. Jack Abramoff seemed to own two, three or four Congressmen (and Bush Administration officials who conspired to block the cases coming to Court) in the name of promoting betting on Indian reservations. Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska is in denial over his convictions for not declaring "gifts". Earlier this month, William J. Jefferson lost one of the safest Democratic districts because of the miasma of corruption that clings to him.

And so on.


Sphere: Related Content

Monday, December 15, 2008


A triumph for Tina and Sarah

Malcolm is banned from the annual family game of Trivial Pursuits (even though he is useless on the popular culture rounds).

This is a corollary of his addiction to the inconsequential, and a couple of fathoms length of bookshelf occupied by "Dictionaries of ...". The internet has supplanted many of these for instant access, but he retains many for , ahem, bathroom use.

Essential are dictionaries of quotations. The megaton rating is, of course, reserved for the OED, once the user has mastered the on-line access. OUP's proper books, flagshipped by Elizabeth Knowles' tome, are more portable. Penguins are a delight: quirkiness guaranteed. Bartleby for transAtlantic enrichment. The new kid on the block is Fred Shapiro's Yale Book of Quotations.

Which, at last, brings Malcolm to his point.

Yale/Shapiro has recently put out his top quotations for 2008. It is heavy with economic hubris:
5. "The fundamentals of America's economy are strong." — [Senator John] McCain, in an interview with Bloomberg TV, April 17
One that was subject to an instant revision.

The top two spots belong to Mrs Mooseblaster's twin manifestations:
1. "I can see Russia from my house!" — Comedian Tina Fey, while impersonating Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live," broadcast Sept. 13

2. "All of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years." — Palin, responding to a request by CBS anchor Katie Couric to name the newspapers or magazines she reads, broadcast Oct. 1
In that order.

This is further evidence of the Fey/Palin conundrum: distinguishing the fact from the fiction. Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury regularly points up this problem (see above), which bodes to persist through the next electoral cycle. With any luck.

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, December 14, 2008

An Internationale whinge



You can sing the words of the Internationale to the tune of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Well, according to a commenter, fishcanoeski, on the marvellous Wonkette site, you can.
A Malcolm aside:
This sounds like a task Humph would have set for I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, but ... who cares? In passing, if true fame is being recognised by a single name, what about superstardom needing only a single syllable?

Even more bizarre, this musical confusion is a spin-off from an article by Philip Adams in the Australian, pointing out that Christmas is all a Communist plot, and reminding us of the dubious links (as in "links, rechts, links") between Karl Marx and Santa Claus.

Even after a second reading, Malcolm is not convinced that Wonkette entirely appreciates that Australians received a double helping of irony, largely at the expense of Americans. The previously-mentioned pert piece, Malcolm's daughter, believes it's an engrained genetic thing: the emigrants to Australia were hard-cases recruited from the gaols of the United Kingdom, whereas those to the American colonies were good-living Puritans and Presbyterians. Hence the difference in world-view.

If there's any doubt of that observable fact, Malcolm asks for an explanation of Utah: why did the Almighty (in whom so many Americans trust) put all those tourist traps in a State where alcoholics like Malcolm suffer have to suffer root-beer and withdrawal symptoms? That's not irony, it's vengeance.

Any other gripe, Malc?

Yes, indeedy.

Years back, Malcolm went to the memorial service for a well-loved local parson. The suffragan Bishop told the painful story of visiting the dying man. Together they tried to recite the Lord's Prayer. Unfortunately, the modernisers had cocked that up as well. So, the dying man went for the politically-correct "modern" version: the Bishop, deferring to age and tradition, went for the approved Prayer Book version. The Bishop, from the pulpit, reflected poignantly, on how two aged men were unable to connect at such a moment.

That's the anecdote. Now, the point.

Why is the Internationale not?

Well, when it annoyed the CIA and the Red-baiters, for a start. Back in December 1943 we were all palsy with the Soviets. Toscanini conducted the NBC Symphony in New York, doing Verdi, for a film sponsored by the Office of war Information. The concert began with the first verse of the Internationale, sung in Russian no less, followed by the American anthem. In course of time, RCA reissued the recording as an LP, and the Internationale disappeared, to be replaced by The Star-Spangled Banner.

Then, there are several versions, in English, of the Left's most important theme tune. It is, after all, one of the few matters on which anyone left of centre should be able to concur. Yet, even in English, it has a variety of lyrics.

The version that Malcolm caroled to Dublin's College Green, on Friday 16th October 1964, after an extended evening in O'Neill's, Suffolk Street, celebrating the UK General election results, went like this:





The best American doing it is, inevitably, Pete Seeger doing it multi-lingually, and critically:



Billy Bragg has had a go at updating it:



Which leaves only one question:

Can we agree on one thing, comrades?

... but no bloody reindeer! O.K.?
Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Louisiana One takes Two:
a good deed in a naughty world.


The British right-wing have had it hard in recent years. Their distraction therapy has been to live the Great Bush Experiment (until it became the Greater Bush Disaster).

That meant there were howls and yippings whenever it looked as if, first, Hillary and, then, Obama were on the slide. Yelps of delight hailed each time Governor Sarah Mooseblaster's intellectual and ideological incisiveness could be applauded. In this world-view, she walked free, with her True Conservative "get out of jail free" card, when Senator McCain was shown to have failed because of lamentable liberal tendencies. At least, that's Malcolm's take on the whole thing.

A strange frisson hunts through the Tory tribe, in constant search of some backbone to run up.

So Tim Montgomerie's cheerleader site is featuring Dan Hamilton having conniptions over the strange events concerning the -- err -- peculiar Governor Rod Blagojevich.

And, also chez Montgomerie, there are the glad tidings, borrowed from America in the World, that Joseph Cao is now elected as Congressman for the Louisiana 2nd District (the election was delayed because of Hurricane Gustav).

A note of warning must intrude here: America in the World looks remarkably akin to one of those CIA-fronts that popped up all over the 1950s and 1960s. So, when Malcolm looked at its credentials, he found it had been launched as recently as October, with a featured photo-op of David Cameron, and its director is ... one Tim Montgomerie. Small world.

Let's stick to Cao. He was an underdog, barely registering on the clapometer a couple of weeks ago. He had certain advantages: for one, his odious and odorous opponent was the sitting Rep. Bill Jefferson.

Jefferson had scrambled to the Democrat nomination, despite growing clamour over his "business" practices. He had been arrested for corruption even before his 2006 re-election: the FBI had set up a sting with known bills, which turned up stuffed in lunch-boxes in the freezer in Jefferson's congressional office. Fans of the recent Damian Green affair might note that this was "the first-ever FBI raid on a Congressional office". Republican Senators and Congressmen went ape. In June 2007 Jefferson was indicted of sixteen counts of corruption.

Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker of the House and Democrat leader, had Jefferson offed from the Ways and Means Committee. The Louisiana Democrats tried to squash Jefferson. He was supported by the Congressional Black Caucus, however, and ploughed blithely on.

Jefferson's family have (or had) a very effective local machine, the Progressive Democrats. Hurricane Katrina was one disrupting force. Jefferson did himself no little harm during Katrina, having the National Guard and a helicopter to rescue himself and his belongings, while others were considerably less well-catered for.

The Louisiana 2nd is most of the city of New Orleans and is 64% Black. Jefferson ran his Primary campaign on an explicit appeal to those Black voters and narrowly saw off a strong challenge from a moderate Democrat, with links to the Black Organisation for Leadership Development, the main intra-party opposition to Jefferson's Progressive Democrats. Throughout the whole messy business, Obama personally kept well away, though (like the Democratic Party's central and State organisation) indicating distaste for Jefferson and his baggage.

Even so, Cao's victory was a close-run thing: 1,826 votes out of a valid poll of 66,846. But that's enough: vox polui, vox Dei. Suddenly, he is a Republican star. The Times-Picayune swallowed hard and opined:
In electing Anh "Joseph" Cao to replace indicted U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, Louisiana voters have delivered an undeniable message: that our state's tolerance for the cynical and corrupt politics of the past is waning.
To make the point, that can accessed via a pungently-phrased link to the AP story on Blagojevich:
Are our politicians no longer the most corrupt?
Cao is a very untypical Republican. He was a Jesuit seminarian, remains a devout Catholic, and has an honourable record in civic leadership and as part of the lay mission. He is a lawyer, specialising in immigration. He taught and has a doctorate in ethics. He entered politics in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; and gained further kudos by campaigning against land-fill. All-in-all, he is precisely the Republican of whom Malcolm can substantially approve.

And yet, the whole press emphasis is that Cao is the first Congressman of Vietnamese origin.

Not so fast, says Malcolm. That was Congressman Peter Lien, in the double-episode which began the fourth series of The West Wing. The newly-elected Congressman for the Texas 22nd comes to the White House as the first part of 20 Hours in America concludes:
CHARLIE: Congressman Lien.

President BARTLET: Could somebody get Leo for me, please? Peter, you hear that? He called you "congressman."

Congressman Peter LIEN: Yes, sir.

BARTLET: You think when your folks got you out in '74, they imagined they were taking you to a place that'd be willing to make you a Congressman?

LIEN: As a matter of fact, sir, I think that's exactly what they imagined.

...

LEO: Good afternoon, Mr. President.

BARTLET: Leo, meet Congressman Peter Lien, Texas 22nd. Peter, this is Leo McGarry, U.S. Air Force, 144th Fighter Wing.

LEO: Pleased to meet you, Congressman.

BARTLET:
Peter's family fishes in Galveston Bay ... Peter's 34 years old.

LEO: I'm sorry it's been two months and we haven't been able to get you up here until now.

LIEN: No, please. It's a bust time. If there's any help I can give you in Texas...

BARTLET: Ordinarily I would tell you that ... you've got big shoes to fill, ... and you do, but obviously you have a bigger symbolic responsibilty then that.

LIEN: Yes, sir.

BARTLET: But you biggest responsibiltity isn't symbolic, right?

LIEN: Yes, sir.

BARTLET: What is it?

LIEN: It's my district, my country, and the Congress of the United States.

BARTLET: Welcome, my friend, to the show that never ends.

LIEN: Thank you, Mr. President.
Malcolm makes two postulations from what has gleaned about Joseph Cao:
  • Cao has the makings of a great Representative, who will do "The Big Easy" very nicely;
  • His commitments and sincerity will constantly disappoint the Right on both sides of the Atlantic. He has already done so by keeping his counsel on stem-cell research (that other sinister shibboleth, alongside being "pro-life").
He's got the odds stacked against him: his District is overwhelmingly and naturally Democrat. The Black interest groups are going to regroup and come after him in two years' time: they are already tagging him a one-term lame-duck. Next time, the sleaze issue may not be there to work in his favour; but, unless someone special comes along, his political demise would be a pity.

Here's to literate, sensitive, Joseph Cao:
"I read a lot of Dostoevsky who wrote works of literature but really was addressing philosophical questions." His favorite is Brothers Karamazov with its story of the "good man [Alexei] who lives a conflicted existence but holds on to his goodness."
Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The problem of Maria has wider dimensions

Malcolm, back home after various alarums and excursions (of which, doubtless, more anon), is catching up with the local intelligence.

One story, dealt with at length by today's Times is:
My journey from IRA gunrunner to Tory lady councillor in Croydon
That story (with a front-page, and very fetching image -- right) has been cooking quite nicely over recent days, until finally making the national dailies. Pretty well everything Malcolm felt about this story was said by Kevin Myers in the Belfast Telegraph:
The Conservative cabinet minister for education in Croydon Borough Council, Maria Gatland, has resigned her post after the revelation that, 35 years ago, she was a member of the IRA.

Back then, she was known as Maria Maguire, the glamour face of Provisionalism, a middle-class girl from Dublin who'd been caught up in post-Bloody Sunday emotionalism.

But a decent enough creature underneath it all, and disgusted by the IRA slaughter of Bloody Friday, she not merely left the movement, but also spilled the beans to British intelligence. And having been sentenced to death by her former chums, including her bed-partner, Daithi O'Connell, she went into hiding.

Well, if that isn't having made amends, then what is? Look at the prime architects of her early decisions in life. Mike Jackson, adjutant of the 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday, went on to become head of the British Army, a knight of the realm with a DSO and Bar. Gerry Adams, the most senior member of the IRA in Belfast during the Bloody Sunday butchery, has since been a guest of the British Prime Minister at Downing Street and at Chequers, and of the US president at the White House. His books have made him a millionaire. But poor Maria's political career is in ruins.

I know nothing of Maria Maguire's reinvention as Maria Gatland, Conservative politician, just that she had to go into hiding, to change her name, and to create a new identity, to save her from being murdered by the very organisation whose leaders have since been welcomed on deep-pile carpets in London and Washington.

So by those same rules, she should have been welcomed by the Tory party, and congratulated for the blow she'd struck against the IRA, at grave risk to her own life. Instead, her fellow Conservatives have tut-tutted over her ‘shameful’ past.
Myers is rarely Malcolm's opinion-maker of choice, but in this he is absolutely on the button.

It amply illustrates a frequent topic of Malcolm's own thoughts: the double-standards applied to those who pass between the two main islands of our home archipelago.
  • Hence, Malcolm's delight that so many liberal cyberspatial voices have sided with Mrs Gatland. She has shown levels of personal honour not generally at large among Tory councillors.
  • Hence, too, the unaccustomed reticence on the matter from one and all of the "usual suspects" (Dale, Montgomerie, Staines) in the Tory blogosphere.
  • Hence, thirdly, the pathos behind this paragraph in the Times piece:
After a sleepless Monday night she contacted the Tory council leader. She admitted that she had been a member of the IRA and offered her resignation. An hour later he called back and accepted. “I am disappointed in the way the local party acted but I do understand it was a great shock to them,” Mrs Gatland said. “Perhaps I should have said, ‘Here is the book, this is what I did, make up your own minds’. They should not have reacted so quickly but I can understand they were worried about their reputation.”
Meanwhile, in Belfast

Diddy Dave Cameron is wowing all of the 700-strong rump of the Ulster Unionist Party with belly-rubs and warm words.

This is either a very trivial event, little more than a photo-op, or it is (for good or ill) a new departure. Fortunately, nobody is paying Malcolm to make predictions.

Except ...

Yesterday’s Irish Times had a summative piece by Gerry Moriarty (who, as their Northern Editor, is paid on the above basis):
Cameron's alliance proposal for UUP raises many questions
The alleged aim being trailed here is the creation of
a new, non-sectarian political dynamic in Northern politics.
In other words, another political whistle-in-the-wind to go the same way as the SDLP and Alliance Parties. The "non-sectarian" middle-ground is becoming a trifle cluttered with relics of previous non-sectarian political dynamics. All of which stumbled, sooner or later, over the inevitable question: are you a Mick non-sectarian political dynamic or a Prod one?

Moriarty has Owen Patterson (Cameron’s representative on earth to this small, six-countied corner of God's own heaven) reported thus:
He isn’t concerned about how [putting up candidates in every constituency] would play with the DUP in the event of both Cameron and Brown needing Robinson’s votes to form a government. He knows it probably would boil down to the highest bidder.
To Malcolm, that may be a fair appraisal of mercenary NI politicos of any shade, but it smacks of cynicism of an advanced kind. It ignores, for two examples, the DUP’s self-serving ability to play the long game and see beyond the next bunker:
  • Putting up a Tory-UUP candidate in two particular constituencies (South Belfast and Fermanagh-South Tyrone) ensures that the DUP will be also be on the ballot paper, splitting the unionist-Prod vote (which, of itself, belies any claim to be "non-sectarian").
  • And, in the context of any hypothetically-hung parliament, everyone -- especially in this case, the DUP -- is looking at and calculating for a re-run election within 12-18 months.
The very best outcome that the UUP-Conservatives can hope for by 2009 or 2010 is to retain the seat held by Lady Hermon, of whom Moriarty says:
what with Lady Hermon and others in the party such as Michael and Chris McGimpsey and Fred Cobain disposed towards British Labour[, ... t]here are concerns that this could play into the hands of the DUP.
Wider ramifications?

Meanwhile, hush-a-while. On one sound-track we have Cameron's cri de coeur that
He insisted he had never been a “little Englander” and wanted to build Conservatism across the UK.

“I passionately believe in the Union and the future of the whole United Kingdom," he said.
Ouch! That reference to "little Englander" comes from the plummy mouth of an architypical English, nay Notting Hill set, politician. It is perilous stuff.

Malcolm wonders if, on the other channel, he can detect the smothered sniggers of the self-basting Salmond, and the sucking of teeth behind the pursed lips of Annabel Goldie. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanks and more

Malcolm's grateful thanks go to all those here, and elsewhere, who expressed condolences.

It transpires that the lady recovered, and is indeed the coolest, calmest and most composed of the whole family. The rumours about her ordeal which have come back from her wider circle of acquaintance are grossly exaggerated.

The loss and damage are minimal.

Three boyos, apparently of local extraction, were subsequently arrested. There are numerous other incursions to be taken into account.

Malcolm apologises for his outburst. He has gained new respect for the PSNI and its operations.

So, today to Nuremberg: one of the few spots on the map with a worse Public Relations problem than New Jersey. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, November 28, 2008

Normal service will be resumed ...

… sometime after a domestic crisis.

At around 11pm on Thursday, 27th November, three thugs forced entry into the Portadown, County Armagh, home of an elderly widow-lady, living alone, aged 87.

She was stiffled, and held, while the others ransacked the house. Quite what was taken (apart from the predictable banking information) is uncertain.

Since the lovely, harmless, elderly lady was Malcolm’s mother-in-law, he is otherwise engaged.

So much for “Peace and Justice”.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The seven ages of English spy fiction

Malcolm's latest post promised a study of Erskine Childers' The Riddle of the Sands. That book, which is often quoted as the first example of a now-overcrowded genre, also needs to be placed in context.

So, here's a possible structure for a historical perspective of the genre:
  • before Childers, what?
  • Childers, in 1903;
  • Richard Hannay;
  • Bulldog Drummond, and the inter-War years;
  • James Bond and the brutalities of the Cold War world;
  • John Le Carré and a new ambivalent intellectualism;
  • Len Deighton, and the post-Le Carré scene.
Three literary, social and historical forces (the point of which confluence amounts to popular taste) are at work here:

1. Who is the national enemy?

Over time this changes from
  • nebulous anarchist forces, usually associated with east European nasties, to
  • the horrible Hun,
  • to the Red Menace and the Enemy Within,
  • to nebulous nihilist forces, usually associated with Islamicist Asian nasties.
2. What is the literary climate?

This, too, changes.
  • The spy novel emerges from the miasma of the penny dreadful and Daily Mail sensationalist page-fillers.
  • The Riddle of the Sands is, self-consciously, more demanding. Indeed, at its original publication, the Times Literary Supplement suggested that "the whole story can scarcely be understood by any but practical navigators". Malcolm notes, in that context, that his hard-back copy dates from 1955, when it was published by Rupert Hart-Davis, as number 29 in the "Mariners Library".
  • Then it is back to the popular yellow-back shocker, sold through the railway bookstall, recognising the growth of a mass-market for such publications.
  • Publishing standards, and intellectual acceptance improve as, successively, Alan Lane's Penguins, then the universal wartime economy editions give way to the post-war library hardbacks feeding into well-designed paperback editions. The current vogue for "trade paperbacks" raises the quality standard even further. Malcolm's aside here is that the dust-covers Richard Copping did for Jonathan Cape's first editions of Ian Fleming are the genre's gold standard of presentation.
  • Content as well as medium has higher standards. Eric Ambler and Graham Greene bridge the chasm between popular and intellectual readership. Characterisation is vastly improved. By the time Le Carré is hitting his stride, the "spy novel" is indistinguishable from the "psychological novel".
3. The advance of technology

Over the last century, we have gone from the Martini rifle, the anarchist's bomb and the prosaic Dulcibella through poison gas, aircraft, atom bombs, death rays, the space age and missile technology, and into the cyberage. The MacGuffin changes accordingly; but the essential plot of the best spy stories still reduces to a protagonist hunting, encountering, escaping and, in the end-game, neutralising an antagonist, on a credible human level.

In this continuing post, Malcolm focuses on The Riddle of the Sands,
the first two of his suggested "Seven Ages" above.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

... by firing squad in Dublin 86 years ago today, for the crime of carrying a handgun as a rebel against the Irish Free State, Erskine Childers was executed.

A single-paragraph, third editorial in today's Guardian marks the occasion. The short piece notes:
Many things about Childers were contradictory. English born, and an Anglican, he ended up fighting the British empire he had once supported. A powerful writer - the Observer once put [T]he Riddle of the Sands 37th in its list of the 100 greatest books of all time - he produced only one novel, less well known now than it should be.
Of course, it isn't anything like that 266-word simple. Very few things are.

For Malcolm, it comes down to three essential questions*:

1. Why did Childers support the Irish republicans?

Well, why not?

His mother, Anne Barton, had her family home at Glendalough House (right) in the County Wicklow, and that was where she returned when she was widowed. So Childers grew up there, returning to England for his Cambridge education, before taking up the family business in the Civil Service (as a Clerk in Parliament). His experiences as a volunteer in the Boer War (above,left), and the 1906 Election turned him to Liberalism. With Liberalism went Home Rule.

He was never close to the IRB: the gun-running episode was more quixotic than anything else. Beyond that, he was more involved with literary and journalistic support for the cause. A superb letter to the Times in 1919, which Diarmaid Ferriter quotes in full, compares the British attitude to the states newly-established at Versailles to that shown to Ireland, concluding:
Great Britain is guaranteeing the boundaries of these new states, of which so little is known that the PM can joke in parliament about his ignorance till yesterday of the position on the map of one of the numerous 'Ulsters'. Is she, in the same breath, to decline to deal with Ireland, whose uninterrupted historical identity and boundaries nobody can mistake? Ireland, the last unliberated white community on the face of the globe?
His route to joining the rebels was parallel to Casement's: Diarmaid Ferriter refers to:
September 1913, Childers found himself having an intense conversation about Irish nationalism in Belfast, while 'climbing a lovely mountain just behind the town'.
2. Why did the Free Staters take against Childers?

When the time came for the Downing Street negotiations, Childers ended up as one of the Secretaries to the delegation (after all, he had been an insider in Westminster), and worked closely with Collins on the drafting. In a number of key areas, Childers' input was decisive. The British were prepared to offer Dominion status on the model of Canada: Childers (through Collins) responded that was not adequate -- Canada was far more remote, and therefore independent, than the other end of the mailboat route to Dublin. The British wanted Ireland to be effectively demilitarised (excepting, of course, the Treaty Ports): Collins wanted the power to defend Irish neutrality.

As the Treaty negotiations wore on, so did Childers' tenacity for a 32-county republic wear on Arthur Griffith, who was irritated by the constant flow of briefing material Childers provided. At one moment, Childers produced a memorandum of the concessions the Irish side had already offered. By the time the delegates returned to Dublin for the final Cabinet consultation, Childers was advising against the draft offered by Britain: (as Dorothy Macardle says) "it would give Ireland no national status and made neutrality impossible". Lloyd George noted, at the moment of Collins's final capitulation:
the desperate, tragic face of Erskine Childers, who waited outside in the lobby, while Ireland's Independence was signed away.
Childers then instigated a propaganda campaign, publishing a regular newsletter on the developments. As the split in Sinn Féin developed, inevitably Childers gravitated to the Republicans, to the extent of taking a portable press with him when he went on "active service" with the Irregulars.

Shooting the messenger

On 27th September, 1922, General Mulcahy came to the Dáil to ask for emergency powers. The resolution was proposed by Cosgrave, to allow the Free State army to set up military courts with unlimited powers of summary sentence and execution. The highest drama of the debate was Kevin O'Higgins (right) identifying one particular target:
I do know that the able Englishman who is leading those who are opposed to this Government has his eye quite definitely on one objective, and that is the complete breakdown of the economic and social fabric, so that this thing that is trying so hard to be an Irish nation will go down in chaos, anarchy and futility. His programme is a negative programme, a purely destructive programme, and it will be victory to him and his peculiar mind if he prevents the Government coming into existence under the terms of the Treaty signed in London last December.
O'Higgins was pressed on a point of information: to whom did he refer?
I am now referring to the Englishman, Erskine Childers.
When Childers was ordered to Dublin to act as Secretary to the Republican Government, he was the subject of a specific manhunt by the Free Staters. On the morning of 1oth November, the house of Childers' cousin, Robert Barton, was surrounded. Childers was arrested, carrying a small automatic, a souvenir from Michael Collins, but could not use it because of his sensitivities towards the women in the house.

Next day, speaking in Dundee, Churchill upped the ante:
I have seen with satisfaction that the mischief-making murderous renegade, Erskine Childers, has been captured. No man has done more harm or shown more genuine malice, or endeavoured to bring a greater curse upon the common people of Ireland than this strange being, actuated by a deadly and malignant hatred for the land of his birth. Such as he is may all who hate us be.
So Childers came to trial before a military court: although the emergency provisions had been enacted for the last month, no executions had yet happened.

On the day of the secret trial, four Republican prisoners were executed for carrying illegal revolvers. The Labour Party brought the executions to the floor of the Dáil. Again, O'Higgins (who, in total, would approve 77 executions) brazenly spelled it out:
If [the military] took, as their first case, some man who was outstandingly active and outstandingly wicked in his activities, the unfortunate dupes throughout the country might say he was killed because he was a leader, because he was an Englishman, or because he combined with others to commit raids.
Childers, by then, had already been sentenced to death. All legal means were frustrated or over-ruled by the Free Staters. Within hours of Mulcahy and O'Higgins refusing to accept the order of habeas corpus, and despite a pending appeal, Childers was executed at Beggars Bush Barracks.

* Next post will address Malcolm's third question: is The Riddle of the Sands that good?
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Friday, November 21, 2008


Right on the money:
a literary relay race


While Malcolm was musing on Garry Trudeau's creation, Lacey Davenport, it provoked a series of connections.

Garry Trudeau, a native New Yorker, was raised in the gorgeous small town of Saranac Lake, in the Adirondacks, and not far from the more-famed, and more-populated Lake Placid. Norman Crampton listed Saranac Lake as the nicest small town in New York State, and the eleventh in the entire nation. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has it among its "Dozen Distinctive Destinations".


In 1876, Trudeau's great-grandfather, Dr Edward Livingston Trudeau settled there, looking for the clear air to mitigate his own tuberculosis. Dr Edward then established the Adirondack Cottage Sanitorium (which, as the Trudeau Institute, remains something of a Trudeau family firm ever since). Earlier this year, the US Post Office celebrated him on a stamp as one of its "Distinguished Americans".

One of the earlier arrivals at Trudeau's sanitorium, presumably by the recently-opened -- and magnificently named -- Chateaugay railroad, was Robert Louis Stevenson. The cottage where RLS stayed in 1887-8 has been a museum since 1916: there is a plaque there to Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, and a couple of Borglum's less-monumental works (including a portrait of Trudeau) in the neighbourhood.

RLS's removal from Bournemouth to Saranac Lake provoked a split with W.E.Henley, over a misunderstanding about Fanny Stevenson's reworking of a story. This was all part of a period of crisis in RLS's life: his father, Thomas Stevenson was recently dead, and RLS conceived a scheme to move to Ireland, where he would be murdered, to draw attention to the Irish problem. While at Saranac Lake, RLS wrote an extraordinary article, Confessions of a Unionist, arguing against Irish Home Rule: this went unpublished until 1921. After the stay at Saranac Lake, the Stevenson menage chartered a yacht and sailed for the Pacific Islands.

Samuel Clemens ("Mark Twain") arrived on holiday in 1901, not for treatment, but still struggling with depression after the death of his favoured daughter, Susy. While in town, Twain knocked off a Conan Doyle pastiche, A Double-Barreled Detective Story. Malcolm, no great admirer of the Sherlock Holmes "canon", regards Twain and Michael Dibden's Jack-the-Ripper piece, above their progenitor's. Twain's rental continues to trade on the connection, as "Camp Mark Twain".

The town of Saranac Lake, largely constructed of the local timber, suffered a number of major fires (one of which destroyed Dr Edward's library containing personally-autographed RLS texts). The result was frequent changes in local attractions: one of which was the Pontiac Theatre, where Al Jolson serenaded.

Apart from Cal Coolidge, a notable visitor was Jack Moran (a.k.a. "Legs" Diamond) the Manhattan bootlegger (right), who came up-state to see his tubercular brother, Eddie. He might have had other, more businesslike reasons: under prohibition, the main route from Canada to New York City came through the Adirondacks and Saranac Lake.

Albert Einstein had been a regular visitor to the US after 1921, mainly to Princeton and the Pasadena Institute. After 1932, and the rise to power of Hitler, he made it permanent. Although basing himself at Princeton, he rented 75 Glenwood Road, and then one of the six cottages at the Knollwood Club, Shingle Bay, on Lower Saranac Lake. It was there Einstein heard of the bombing of Hiroshima, and gave his radio interview a few days later: "Woe is me!". Around the same time, Bela Bartók, suffering from the leukemia which killed him later in 1945, stayed in the neighbourhood.

There is one further connection Malcolm cannot ignore. Dr Edward's son, who shared his father's name, and so was known as "Ned", married Chicago-born Hazel Martyn, "the most beautiful girl in the Mid-West", and daughter of the Vice-President of the Union Stockyards. Ned was tubercular, and died just months after their 1903 wedding. The widow, Hazel Martyn Trudeau, had previously met the painter John Lavery: they married in 1909.

And so, until the innovation of the Euro, Gary Trudeau's great-aunt, in various denominations, was Ireland's favourite portrait-girl:

Sphere: Related Content

The spirit of Millicent and Lacey

The next item on the agenda is: Whither the Republican Party? (the first draft of that, homophonically, involved "wither").

Palinontology apart, there must be hope, in extremis, for a revival of the non-theocratic liberal wing. Doubtless, over its coming months and (let it be hoped) years in the political wilderness, the GOP will give us ample scope for thought, delight and commentary on just this ideological battle.

For the moment, it is nice to see Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury once again ahead of the curve. In a neat plot twist, he has managed to reintroduce the character of Lacey Davenport:


Despite Trudeau's disavowals, Lacey is generally supposed to owe something to the real-life Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick of the New Jersey Fifth District:
Elected to Congress from New Jersey in 1974 at age sixty-four, Fenwick became a media darling. Television commentator Walter Cronkite called her "the conscience of Congress." During her four terms in the House of Representatives, she emerged as arguably one of the most colorful politicians in American history. She was known for her opposition to corruption by both parties and special interest groups. She was one of the most liberal Republicans in the House.
This NJ Fifth is the northern end of the State, bordering New York, and swinging in an L-shape along the Pensylvania state-line. It is rural, confounding most of the prejudices acquired from the effluent zone towards Newark, but also embraces the commuter belt of Bergen County. It's some of that bosky greenery one sees, starboard-side, on the day-time western approach to Newark Liberty. The first representative for this district, back in 1799-1801, was Benjamin Franklin's nephew, Franklin Davenport (presumably, no relation).

The party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, of Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller needs a new generation of Millicents and Laceys. To preserve a healthy democracy, it certainly deserves more intellect and breadth than its recent standard-bearers have offered. There is a roll of honour on wikipedia, those identified as RINOs. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Consider

That shows the decline in the bulk price of natural gas. At the peak of the boom in commodities, it touched $14 per million BTUs. Today, the price was down to $6.30. That's a difference of some 2.2 times.

So, when do the oligopolist suppliers cut the retail price? Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Remembrance

Malcolm cannot easily discover just how many deaths we should note for Remembrance Day. It is certainly well into seven figures: and that's just Britain.

Facing that staggering number, each of us can only comprehend the tragedies at an individual, personal level.

So Malcolm (who can count family dead and slaughtered, all the way back to Bosworth Field) finds himself reflecting on just two:
  • Grandfather Edward (whose forename Malcolm's alter ego inherited) was with the Royal Field Artillery. He was killed by a traffic accident (the majority of deaths on the Western Front were not from bomb or blast); but he is buried among the other 1,334 at Doullens (above, right) in France.
  • Cousin Jean, part of a searchlight team, was one of the 26 ATS girls killed when a German bomber took out North Drive, Great Yarmouth, on 11th May 1943.
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Friday, November 7, 2008

Norfolk Haggis?

Malcolm is, almost famously,
Norfolk born, Norfolk bred:
Strong in the arm, and weak in the head.
He was, therefore, delighted by the enterprise shown by James Rutland, eponym of M&M Rutland butchers, of Melton Constable, Norfolk.

His firm is exporting making and exporting haggis (hagges? haggises?) to Scotland. The product even passes muster for the Black Watch.

Inevitably there had to be someone to rain on the parade. Step forward pouting, feisty Catherine Stihler, MEP, of the Kingdom of Fife,
who was part of the Save Our Haggis campaign, has made a fresh call for Euro laws to be brought in to protect the Scottish national dish from foreign imposters.
She added: "It shows the need for stronger rules so consumers know what they are eating and where it has been made."
That's if one reads the Scottish Daily Record.

The Norwich-based Eastern Daily Press (on which Malcolm was raised: he particularly appreciated the herring landings reported at Yarmouth, which is why he can measure a "cran") has it somewhat differently:
Mrs Stihler said: “A geographic indicator is maybe one route we should go down for haggis, but at this time there should just be clarity on the label.”

She added that having holidayed in Norfolk as a youngster, mostly on the Broads, she was a great fan of the county and had nothing against Norfolk or M&M Rutland butchers.
More to the point:


Malcolm, married to a sprig of Ulster, has an on-going problem. What he calls a swede, she calls a turnip. And vice-versa.

As a result of this domestic war-t0-the-knife, he never gets served swede.

After years of earnest lobbying, he is now occasionally allowed parsnip, however.

Now, Nich Starling, a.k.a. Norfolk Blogger, get up to speed.

These are the real issues that matter in the world.


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Thursday, November 6, 2008

12 hours is a long time in politics

From the Rasmussen Presidential Approval index for Wednesday, 4th November, 2008:
Forty percent (40%) of U.S. voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is handling his new role as president-elect. Thirty-two percent (32%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a net rating of eight ...
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Two sadly deceased, and a politically-incorrect anecdote

Courtesy of the Daily Mail:
Two French wine-makers suffocated by carbon dioxide fumes from grapes they were treading

Two amateur French wine makers have died after they were suffocated by the fumes from the grapes they were treading with their bare feet.

The victims had volunteered to help a friend make wine at his vineyard in the northern Ardeche region and had climbed into the six-foot wide vat to begin the traditional process of extracting the juice from the grapes.

But police believe Daniel Moulin, 48, and 50-year-old Gerard Dachis were overcome by carbon dioxide fumes that are given off during fermentation and collapsed.

A legal nicety

On Sunday, Malcolm listened to an eminent QC addressing those dining at Lincoln's Inn on the subject of expert witnesses. He told a story of the Southampton stevedore who was charged with drunken driving. The defendant's excuse was that he worked cleaning the vats of Martini unloaded at the docks. He must, without realising it, have absorbed sufficient alcohol by breathing and through skin-contact to put him over the limit: in point of fact, three times over the limit.

The QC related how he approached an expert witness, a leading medical man, to confirm the story. He was told, forcibly by the doctor that such a thing was totally impossible. It was inconceivable that such a build-up of alcohol in the bloodstream could occur by inhalation or by absorption through the skin.

When the case came before the magistrates, the QC did not put up expert evidence. The defendant told his story, and gave his excuse to the Bench.

The Bench withdrew to consider the case.

When they returned they found the defendant not guilty, on the grounds that he had inhaled and been in contact with alcohol ...

This, in its turn, prompted Malcolm's recollection.

Malcolm's Dad spent some of the War years on MTBs. The vessel in this story was one of the lend-lease Elco PT boats, built at Bayonne, New Jersey. They had three 1200hp engines, driving two propellers, and (in theory) running on high-octane petrol.

Accessing that fuel was not easy in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean. One source was a Turkish bowser, so the Brits on their MTBs and the Huns on their E-boats would queue for supplies, trying not to acknowledge each others' presence before the transaction was complete, they were outside Turkish waters, and the War could continue.

The Turkish petrol could well have originated in the Roumanian fields, then under Nazi control. Another irony.

However, self-evidently, the fuel was of poor quality, unregulated, and quite polluted. This meant the tanks on the MTBs needed regular cleaning.

So, to that non-PC moment.

Malcolm's Dad described the approved method of tank-cleaning in war-time Alexandria. Attach a rope to an Egyptian. Insert the Egyptian into the tank, instructing him to keep singing. When the singing stopped, haul out comatose Egyptian.

Sphere: Related Content
FUBAR

A dog, a bummer, a crock, a wart.

Yes, Malcolm's talking Vista here.

He was confirmed in his prejudice when he leafed through dabs4work.com's Business Buyer's Guide. There he found an Acer Notebook being sold: the list of features concluded:
Microsoft Windows Vista Business/XP Pro downgrade.
When was the last time anything was sold on the basis of a "downgrade"?

It is as it ever was, and as celebrated in the epic conned from the New Hacker's Dictionary:
SNAFU principle /sna'foo prin'si-pl/ /n./

[from a WWII Army acronym for `Situation Normal, All Fucked Up'] "True communication is possible only between equals, because inferiors are more consistently rewarded for telling their superiors pleasant lies than for telling the truth." -- a central tenet of Discordianism, often invoked by hackers to explain why authoritarian hierarchies screw up so reliably and systematically. The effect of the SNAFU principle is a progressive disconnection of decision-makers from reality. This lightly adapted version of a fable dating back to the early 1960s illustrates the phenomenon perfectly:

In the beginning was the plan,
and then the specification;
And the plan was without form,
and the specification was void.

And darkness
was on the faces of the implementors thereof;
And they spake unto their leader,
saying:
"It is a crock of shit,
and smells as of a sewer."

And the leader took pity on them,
and spoke to the project leader:
"It is a crock of excrement,
and none may abide the odor thereof."

And the project leader
spake unto his section head, saying:
"It is a container of excrement,
and it is very strong, such that none may abide it."

The section head then hurried to his department manager,
and informed him thus:
"It is a vessel of fertilizer,
and none may abide its strength."

The department manager carried these words
to his general manager,
and spoke unto him
saying:
"It containeth that which aideth the growth of plants,
and it is very strong."

And so it was that the general manager rejoiced
and delivered the good news unto the Vice President.
"It promoteth growth,
and it is very powerful."

The Vice President rushed to the President's side,
and joyously exclaimed:
"This powerful new software product
will promote the growth of the company!"

And the President looked upon the product,
and saw that it was very good.

After the subsequent and inevitable disaster, the suits protect themselves by saying "I was misinformed!", and the implementors are demoted or fired.
This blog is created exclusively on an Apple laptops. No animals were harmed in the making of this entry.
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