Next post scheduled for 16th April. NB special motor supplement 01-04-2018
From Analytica Petri, our Island’s leading centre for geopolitical analysis.
We have run short on those pills that boost intelligence with a dose of ideological certainty, so all we would say with moderate confidence about the Salisbury incident is that there are at least five groups, not all Russian, among whom there could be one or more potential assassins of a former Russian intelligence agent. However, given that some pundits appear to hail these events primarily as evidence that Corbyn is unfit to be the British prime minister and that things have been going wrong ever since Blair stopped being p.m, it seems not everyone is working hard to produce a clear and unbiassed account of what happened. At the same time, with various major elements of their national life (NHS, educational system, transport ‘system’) falling apart, and a disunited cabinet still unable to get the EU to believe three impossible things before breakfast, it is hard to imagine anything more welcome than a chance to summon the nation to unite under the government’s command. Three days ago the favourite cliché in the news media was ‘Many questions remain to be answered’. This was misleading. In fact many questions remained to be asked (and still do). This is not least a consequence of the revolution in media practice. These days journalists are trained to put two and two together and make three, even when seven and a half or some fascinating irrational number is waving at them from outside the window – it’s quicker and less expensive that way. This is not to say everything is neatly sorted out and wrapped up already. For instance the police believe the house the fellow lived in was a leading centre of contamination. But is it supposed that foreign agents crept through the suburban roads of Salisbury at dead of night, silently broke in through the kitchen window and planted the poison under the floorboards without disturbing anyone? Yet the alternative – kept a phial or two of the stuff at home just in case it might ever come in useful – seems equally unlikely. And one might wonder why the young lady said to be his daughter claimed in Moscow to work in Pepsico, whereas enquirers in Moscow were told she was unknown to the firm. However, while speculation can be fun, it is also usually pointless. After all there’s not much chance of finding out before 2076 what Harold Wilson was up to on his frequent visits to the Soviet Union. (Selling Gannex raincoats!?) (Beside Wilson, Corbyn looks like a model of the security-conscious professional). What is not speculation is that Theresa must be weeping into her pillow with joy. What better free gift in an age of us-and-them international relations than a chance to lead our side against them, with or without concrete evidence. Unlike most, she still remembers that Thatcher’s poll ratings were heading toward defeat in 1982, until that fool Galtieri started a war her troops would win. There’s more than one irony here. Ask who else is singing cheerfully to himself as he leads his nation towards an imminent election. And ‘Farewell desperately needed post-Brexit Russian trade deal’? But reflect, even if the affair has very disagreeable aspects for some involved, a truly bellicose reaction from Theresa may actually slightly improve humanity’s chance of surviving past 2030. (See Montgomery Skew’s letter in MMQQ3 (15-01-2018), in particular the last sentence of that long paragraph.)
The old order changeth (yet cometh the hour cometh the punter)
This item arrived in the office by paper mail, evidently misadressed. Since vegetable post is now known to be the least insecure form of communication short of using sign language inside a windowless room swept ‘clean’ by security experts, we deduce it was of high importance to the sender whoever he may be and I therefore offer a short fairly harmless extract so that if he reads this (I suspect he may well be on our list) he may realise what has happened and take whatever action is needed. The rest of the message has been safely burnt.
When I was a young lad, my grandfather told me how those serving there as officials of what was then the Colonial Office used to relax from the strain of their duties by turning up at one of the elegant and discreet residences in the Corniche (where you met Fifi), for an hour or two, thereafter smoking two or three pipes before sleeping it off and waking up fresh as a daisy mid-morning the next day. How things change! A friend of mine recently returned from that same fragment of former empire, having done a tour to suck up to various representatives of the local would-be plutocracy, advising them on how to sidestep government rules about corruption and how to approach who about what in London. He tells me the Corniche is certainly still in business but has gone high-tech, turned into a condo/office block, plate glass, stainless steel secretaries and all that. One of the latter made me put my fingerprints on a screen, which then scrolled through a list of menu options, which explicitly excluded smoking in any format. All somewhat confusing, he says. He was shepherded up to a 21st floor room which contained a bed, a smell like a dentist’s and a sort of helmet with dozens of metal buttons and a great fat lead connecting his cranium, once helmeted, to a computer in the corner of the room, and beside the bed a screen on which his option was displayed, which was ‘3 (three) hours of joie de vivre, and dreams type 2 (lechery)’ he boldly told me, and in smaller letters in the corner of the screen where he just had time to read it, ‘terms and conditions apply’
Our political consultant explains (No. 311)
Throughout her career Theresa has maintained a grim determination to think and speak political like a native. (Political is a language with some peculiarities. For instance it only has only a negative future tense. You can say “We shall never agree to such a move.” But the nearest approach you could make to a positive future statement would be something like “We remain firmly committed to the goal of….” – tax reduction or whatever it might be, or much more likely won’t be.) Yet she has never quite succeeded in losing touch completely with reality, and she could see all too clearly that Brexit was sailing full steam ahead to economic disaster, probably to be followed by the extinction of the Conservative party. Nevertheless, Cameron’s catastrophe (the referendum, not the attack on Libya) had put her in Number 10 Downing Street. As a more or less closet remainer and as a woman among Tories she felt liable to be jettisoned at the least sign of weakness. Hence, ‘Brexit means Brexit’ (you can bet her advisers thought that was a smart idea), hence ‘strong and stable’, hence her refusal to say anything sensible to the EU negotiators, hence the insistence that there was to be no backsliding towards sanity. But when someone shouts that loud and that long that X will come to pass you know they are doing it because there’s strong opposition with a good chance of stopping X in its tracks..
Nature tip of the month: Fallen nestlings seldom survive. If they don’t slowly starve they risk their struggles attracting a nocturnal cat. Neither of those fates are agreeable. Dip some cotton wool in alcohol and drip it into their beaks. There is a smidgeon of a chance it will stimulate their system enough to get them through the crisis if other factors are favourable. If not, at least they will pass out in a happy blur.
Can Kim Trump Mueller?
Why do you suppose Trump has suddenly become keen to meet Kim face-to-face, without preconditions, at an early date? Anything to do with the accelerating progress of the Mueller investigations, and the hugely distracting effect of a peace-making (but non-binding) photo-op before the excited cameras of the world?
More important than you might think ‘Systemic failure’ should be carefully distinguished from the much more common ‘systematic failure’, which is usually a matter of security. For instance one element in an electrically powered system will be designed to fail, to avoid risk of fire, if the system is exposed to an excessive power load. Although usage varies, that can be described as a systematic failure. A ‘systemic failure’ does not necessarily involve fraud, dishonesty or scandal, and may not even be consciously designed or established, though some believe ‘accidental’ cases count as failures in the functioning of the neo-capitalist system. Chains of organisations appear where each one lays down the regulations for the next, or is responsible for supervising its activities or is required to ensure that only fit and proper persons are employed, or subcontracts some of its own duties to it; or (in the reverse direction) a group or company may be the legal record-holder for another, or may own the buildings belonging to the preceding one, or certify that health and safety standards have been adhered to, or administer some of its predecessor’s activities, or adjudicate in disputes in that sector of the economy. Such chains of interacting, or interfering, groups can include six or more organisations, each involved in one way or another with all the rest, directly or indirectly. The nature of the interactions may surprise; thus a group aiming to stage a festival of simulated hara-kiri in Bordeaux was amazed to learn that an early stage in the process involved an investor in Sierra Leone promising to set up a centre for vaccination against yellow fever.
Advantages for participants can be truly stupendous, even before government bodies, such as the Health and Efficiency Executive for the Northwestern Peninsula, join in with their often unusual specifications. Each successive body either charges a fee for the services it claims to provide for the next in line, or treats its own ‘product’ (e.g. licences to carry out monthly surveys of edible waterfowl) as objects of sale to be bought by anyone who wants to pursue the activities of the following organisation (e.g. construction of wooden platforms in municipal parks to allow owners of licensed drones to launch their vehicles without annoyance to others). If a right to perform Highland dancing at week-ends is fed in at one end of such a chain, what may emerge – apparently from a quite different chain, many months later – may be, e.g., fibrous cladding for rabbit hutches (originally produced by two brothers in Kildare, but now with the necessary approval for export to the UK). Each organisation has of course its own salaried administrators, with its head receiving a properly managerial package. In rare cases, where the same tangible objects are concerned throughout, e.g. exotic oriental foodstuffs fashionable with Guardian readers and needing various certifications, the price differential between the points at which they enter a chain, and where they emerge in real life can involve a factor well into double figures.
However, money is not the main advantage. The real prize even if it is not the result of deliberate design is the superb protection provided when things go wrong. A chain as described delivers ever-diminishing responsibility in one direction, and ever-diminishing real control in the other, so that after a disaster, whether natural or man-made, industrial or marine or financial, it will easily be impossible to pin decisive guilt at any one point, and therefore unjust to raise questions of punishment or compensation, even where tens of thousands have perished and where individuals acting on their own account might face career-threatening penalties, or even a term in prison. Neo-capitalists around the world are considering a conference in 2020 to explore further possibilities in the peristructural economy.
Greetings to all for the 17th