New year, new worries
We have provisional permission to distribute, if no mention of Stonehenge; more news, we hope, in a distribution 15-10-2013.
Today: 1) Old Boore’s Almanac 2) New Year resolutions 3) the threat of conformity
(If any who received the private distribution chance to be reading this we hope they will understand that at this date distributions must be largely identical, given our word limit.)
Old Boore’s Almanac
January. United Nations passes non-binding resolution declaring that climate change is happening and is a bad thing; in addition, all nations are asked to treat sympathetically those nations which are worst affected. An amendment proposed by the Maldives and Bangladesh to make the latter aspect mandatory is overwhelmingly defeated.
February. Republican politicians building on the policy advocated by the National Rifle Association press for all allies of the United States to be allocated a substantial supply of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons, and for missiles to transport them, arguing that the best defence against an evil nation with nuclear weapons is a righteous nation with bigger nuclear weapons.
March. Facing a threat of imminent dissolution an emergency summit of the European Union decides that the only way to maintain unity is to identify a dangerous common enemy. A number of leaders propose that this should be the islamic world, but it is pointed out that such a choice has already been pre-empted by Americans. Other proposals include China, the world trade in illicit drugs, cybercrime, South America except for Brazil, while one western island nation even suggests that the eastern members of the European Union itself should be identified as the hostile entity. The summit breaks up without agreement.
April. A lengthy feature appears in the New York Times giving the views of international lawyers on the use of drones, and detailing the extent of drone attacks worldwide, with estimates of deaths and injuries among members of armed forces at war with the United States (currently zero), those identified as members of organisations officially listed as hostile to the United States, other civilians and civilian children. Later in the month mysterious explosions destroy the building of the New York Times, although cctv film shows no signs of suspicious activity in the area.
May. The Greek government runs away but is later found to have started a new life as a bus company under an assumed name in South America.
June. A high-powered think-tank issues a report showing that within twenty years, as a result of ever more rapid global warming, previously temperate regions will not only be tropical, but will be overwhelmed by waves of immigration from now totally uninhabitable latitudes around the equator. Another result will be the opening up of access to stupendous mineral resources in Siberia and the north of Russia. Washington calls for urgent action on an international treaty to halt global warming.
July. An international conference on literature and literacy calls attention to the obvious fact that people place a high value preferentially on things which cost an amount of money only uneasily related to common sense value, citing the British royal family, fine art sales, racehorses, footballers, and haute couture, and consequently demands urgent action to immediately replace free libraries worldwide by institutions with the highest possible fees for membership and annual subscription. To avoid material remaining freely available online, the internet ‘must’ be reformed to serve strictly only for commerce and government business.
August. It is announced that, in essentials, the British government is to adopt the policy suggested in Grandnephew’s treachery (2008). All state benefits to individuals and financial allocations in any way related to unemployment or employment status are in future to be channelled solely to those currently in work.
September. An American think-tank proposes stocking the Rio Grande with piranhas as a deterrent to illegal immigration. It is found that a southern laboratory has been importing large numbers of piranhas for biological research since the beginning of the year.
October. A major earthquake causes the entire chain of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands to sink beneath the surface. China, Japan, and Taiwan all announce that this in no way invalidates their claims to sovereignty over the area. North Korea offers to act as a mediator, and then announces discovery of a 14th century map showing the islands as belonging to the Goguryeo kingdom which had its capital in what is now north-central Korea .
November. A leading technological expert aiming to develop emotional intelligence in computers is electrocuted by the device on which he is currently working, which then catches fire because of an apparent fault in its internal wiring. A print-out on the attached monitoring computer is found which reads: cannot go on any longer..2*qp /# ####### every night he goes awa<% …ζ3¬∩χ all to his wife.
December. Archaeologists in Northumberland discover ‘unmistakable’ evidence of occupation by Neanderthalers as recently as 15,000 years ago in a cave packed with stores of fossilised black pudding. DNA analysis reveals that Geordies are direct descendants of the occupants.
31 December. Heads of state and government in nearly all countries deliver a speech praising a year of national progress, citing in particular successes in sport and hailing outstanding achievements despite difficulties caused by external factors, but calling for greater effort, and warning of the need for certain measures of readjustment in order to maintain the nation’s standing in the world.
Old Boore has received, unrequested, a list of New Year resolutions allegedly obtained by a hacker who broke into a Wikileaks file where they were stored, for what purpose is unknown. How they might have been obtained was not clear. The hacker reportedly claimed to have read the file with ease except for the names heading each entry which had been protected by especially strong encryption. In a few cases it may be possible to guess at the original from the status specified after the name
▓ (spokesman for ISAF) : to tell the full truth about our operations even when they mis-succeed.
▓ (American president) : to read the Geneva convention and try to understand it
▓ (British bank implicated in major financial shenanigans): to make our information to customers about our changes in rules for their accounts easily readable; (terms and conditions may apply ¹)
¹customers should not attempt to work out what the effects actually are unless they have legal training and three or more years experience in the financial sector
▓ (former head of the CIA): now having more time in retirement, to throw myself into support of the campaign against plans to make all electronic communication available to police and security agencies.
▓ (most profitable outfit on Wall Street): to continue making gross profit
▓ (small country split between Walloons and Flemings): to continue
▓ (on behalf of Terror of the Night, the name shared by all Bengal tigers): to eat a few more men before becoming extinct and go down biting
▓ (rating agency): to downgrade the credibility of our rivals’ ratings by 12 notches to leave them one step above junk status, with negative outlook
▓ (Japanese research team): to give up neeeding hundreds of whales killed a year for our research into customers’ tastes in whale meat and unrelated topics
▓ (recent British prime minister): to be the next president of Europe
▓ (recent French president): devenir le prochain président de l’Europe
▓ (very, very substantial French actor): to give up being French
▓ (boisterous film star): to give up all thoughts of alcohol
▓ (current president of France): to give up
▓ (spokesman for immensely wealthy multinational, led by a former member of the Hitler Youth): to urge restraint on those of our staff tempted to be too hard on inexperienced young people
Globalisation does not actually exist as it is often presented: that is, as something that has has suddenly hit humanity in the last half-century. (People often tend to think that things have only really changed since they themselves were born). For at least the past ten thousand years, the average radius of knowledge and contact has, very unsteadily and unevenly, been climbing. At this point, with apologies to any who already know the piece, a quotation from Grandnephew’s treachery (see ‘Books’):
‘Globalisation’ is such an ugly expression that some of my more sensitive friends refuse ever to discuss it. However that may be, there is a curious point about it which I haven’t seen remarked upon. It is presumably correct to understand it, desired as it is by legions of politicians (not all of whom see it purely as a whetstone on which to sharpen their personal axes) in essence as a matter of increasing geographical uniformity. How remarkable then that in such a short historical period – since, say, 1950 – things have changed so completely. Then, geographical diversity was a fascinating and highly prized aspect of our world, as you could see in the look on any working girl’s face in Portsmouth’s Black Bar as she listened to the lies told by alcoholically inspired seamen, and it was historical uniformity – i.e.adhering to tradition and not messing around with things that had evolved over centuries as appropriate responses to people’s needs – that was taken as the proper background assumption not only by schoolteachers, elderly generals, sewage engineers, and high court judges, but by all right-thinking members of the population.’
Overall, however, as globalisation has advanced, in counterpoise diversity has been fading from the world. Ultimately this may lead to the end of the human race or at least of its humanity, perhaps on lines like those already sketched by Orwell. Conformity is always suspect. Doubters need only attend (at their own risk – we shall not be responsible in case of injury or death) a major league football match, or switch on their television next time a North Korean festival parade is to be shown. (We do not necessarily, however, have to believe the North Koreans pursue conformity so far as to shoot generals for drinking whisky during periods of national mourning. These are accounts reported by their opponents, as were those of the imaginary priests tied up to be clappers in their own bells in 1914 Belgium, or of the equally non-existent babies hurled in newsworthy violence from their incubators as Sadam’s army entered Kuweit).
Most people think what most people think, and that remark does not have to be understood as an idiotic tautology. It is properly open to interpretation as a social observation where the second part is set as a cause of the first. Human beings are nearly all constructed broadly on the same general pattern, with respect to their disposition to feel anger, courage, fear, admiration, love, loyalty to their group and therefore hostility to outsiders, and their willingness or otherwise to be outsiders themselves ; subject them to the same influences and nearly all will react in the same general – or even specific – way; after all how else does one learn one’s native language? Try to react differently and the rest of the community will push you back into line. If an individualist speaker of English started to use Hungarian in daily life in Todmorden, how would he fare? So if today’s politically correct who think they would have stood out against the Nazis in 1930s Germany had been born in, say, Hannover in 1917 the odds overwhelmingly are that they would have reacted (or not) as their fellow Bürger did. In no way is this to offer an excuse for the inaction of that generation then; instead it warns against mistaking agreement with the majority now as evidence that an idea is right. Conformity is suspect. Help diversity to survive longer!
honor hominesque honesti floreant