Cui bono?

honor hominesque honesti floreant

Month: August, 2016

Lenticular Parasites

Editor’s note.  Hi guys out there! Gotta tell you the issue eatin’ and heatin’ up all our reader bros

                 Sorry Maud.  I simply cannot write such stuff.  Maud has been asking me, with support from Berthold of all people, to try writing and editing (a good deal of editing is needed on some contributions unless there’s special reason to leave them fluting their native woodnotes wild) according to a style which she described as ‘joined up to the generation’.  Hard cheese, Maud!  (You see, we have slang too, but it’s simply a different slang from yours).  So, no thanks, and no gibberish.  No, in good-old-fashioned thought-transmitting English a special reminder, plus a couple of other notes:

Note 1; dates of posting, reminder  Given the duties I have acquired since July, postings have to be less frequent.  Apart from any special announcements, such as this one, the aim is to post on the 1st and the 15th of each month.

Note 2 With regret I must report that Maud will be leaving us next month, having been selected as a member of an Irish Women’s Sumo Wrestling Team which is to undertake a three-month world tour, supporting various children’s charities.  (I should add that requests for photographs, of which we have already received more than a dozen, cannot and will not be dealt with through this office.)  Maud has been with us much longer than the original one-month internship, and worth her weight in gold, with her enthusiasm and openminded intelligence.  We all wish her the greatest success on the tour and for what she might take on thereafter.

Note 3  Since we are posting this anyway, I shall add a suggestion which Simon and Louise sketched out together on holiday down in PACA. I give it as received except for the sign-off which I personally found rather embarrassing. For those who haven’t been reading the news, some of the minor panjandra of France have been letting off administrative steam aimed according to some at targets which reflect their political views.

            If we want to test whether French mayors paddling in the murky waters at the seaside are enjoying the refreshing flow of xenophobia around their rolled-up trouser legs, as some suspect, or whether they are simply looking out for new ideas on how to deal with public disorder when they find it, as well as gauging the state of race relations in coastal France, perhaps we could get volunteers to put on a variety of distinctive gear, kilts, kippahs, turbans of various colours, biker leathers, bikini (female), bikini (male), long white robes with pointy hats, (and perhaps we could even get the femen in on this?) to see which gear attracts what reactions from (a) other people on the beach and (b) the police patrols, (after they have been told by accompanying monitors that none of the volunteers are actually members of what it looks they might belong to, so as to keep the issue down to pure prejudice, no messing about with interference from facts); we then ask them, in return for a small fee to spend an hour or two strolling along a coastal beach to see how many are attacked, or attack other people, or are beaten by the police and arrested (not necessarily in that order).  ps We may also need a pet billionaire to hand out compensation for injuries and time spent in prison. pps Could be a lot of money in this if we can get a camera crew to film it.

 

 

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Careful with that stuff – where’s it from anyway?

We are pleased to learn, by postcard from France, that Manos hopes to return before long.  Evidently he has been spending some of his time in Germany  developing some skill in miniature calligraphy.  (It looks as if he has taken Rudolf Koch as a model for form, even if not for size; admirable choice.)  He will not, alas, be bringing samples of leukophyll with him ready to be planted in unsuspecting corners all over the island, but (to my amazement) he still thinks his negotiations to develop  ecologically aggressive white grass may save the world from climatic disaster.  At present, however, he is helping to organise a music festival in the west of France, for which he has written what he describes as a disconcerto, to be called ‘Hell’s Kitchen’.  It has bowls, cake tins, frying pans, kettles and other culinary equipment as the instruments, to be played by a group called the ‘Marignac 47’ who will beat the vessels with ladles and industrial cutlery, and who will wear white full-length aprons and tall white hats for the performances.  A screaming soprano is to be the soloist. (Further information and tickets, 39 euros, through this office)

      (1) grounded aircraft         (2) learning culture

      (3) eugenics                         (4) PR delicacy

      (5) eating gm                      (6) Brexit w(h)ither?

No news can be strange news (A special correspondent writes) Do you remember that story about the grounding of all Delta’s aircraft world-wide?  One of the first curious things about it, considering that we’re approaching the peak holiday season for many countries, and that there was plenty of coverage of the resulting inconvenience for tourists, was how quickly it all slid quietly out of the headlines.  Another surprise was how little accompanying news there was about the trouble that must have been caused to the Atlanta area apart from Delta HQ, if it was a general black-out.  Anyway it’s a shame if a large organisation like that which obviously relies hugely on electricity could not have had a well-prepared system for emergency power generation.  After all widespread power outages are not unknown in the southern US.  If it wasn’t a good old-fashioned power outage, I mean, if it was actually caused by some fault or failure in the computer software, they’d have told us, wouldn’t they?  If it was caused by some malware or hacker actually getting into their network and causing a problem, they would have mentioned it.  Wouldn’t they?  Or perhaps it just slipped their mind.  If it seemed to be the result of a computer ransom demand or something that involved the word ‘terrorist’, they would have let the world know.  Wouldn’t they?    What do you think?  Given the things that happen these days on the computer networks and in the tangible world you’d have thought that they might just have taken the trouble to tell everybody that it was nothing that involved any sort of terrorist issue, but no, judging from the news media I saw it seems they never got around to that.  Perhaps the news outlets simply didn’t ask about that sort of thing.  I guess they were busy and just didn’t get around to it; just a little ordinary problem that got a little larger than usual, nothing too serious that could have any major economic impact or put people off travelling.

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(By e-mail from Dr Philipp in Mogadishu for his wife’s photographic exhibition)  Non sequitur sequitur (Yes, deliberate of course but how many will understand why?  O tempora, o mores!)  Have you noticed that enthusiasm for this popular error in reasoning shows signs of spreading out from the political field and is also escaping the verbal format.  There is evidence that it has now reached the film industry, always eager to join the latest trend as soon as it realises there is a trend to be joined, so that it can show it has not lost all contact with modern ‘culture’.  It is reported that a Mr Matt Damon is to ‘star’ in a film which will present scenes from the legends and prehistory of China as envisaged by American movie makers, and this is announced as ‘using cinema to introduce viewers to Chinese culture’.  Like us, you are probably looking forward to seeing Beyonce in an armoured-car chase through the streets of 1890s Moscow as a way of introducing viewers to the spirit of Russian literature.

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Question of the week (or fortnight) Maud writes: In the 1930s western nations practised eugenics.  More ‘nice’ nations were at it than you would ever guess if you only look at what floats around on the nicely filtered, EU-approved surface of their national consciousness today.  It wasn’t just Germany by any means.  On the contrary, they included all the Nordic countries, the USA and Japan.  [Maud are you sure?  Please check whether Japan could be considered a ‘nice’ country at this period]   All these countries employed surgical techniques (in parts of America until 1972), with various levels of persuasion up to and certainly including compulsion, and with a wide range of groups and individuals affected, but often including unmarried mothers and members of ethnic minorities..  The modern equivalent is an immigration policy.  Which causes more misery?  Which causes more fatalities?  Think carefully before answering.  Just to mention one factor, how many child refugees from Syria travelling on their own have disappeared in the past three years?

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Congratulations to the spokesman for the Thai police who steadfastly upheld the ancient traditions of official public relations.  Responding to requests for information following the co-ordinated launch of nine bomb attacks killing four people and leaving more than thirty injured, some seriously, in various cities of the country’s separatist south where hundreds have been killed in the past 15 years, he assured those listening that this was ‘not a terrorist attack’ but ‘local people’.  It is thought he was probably not referring to ill-judged firework displays but instead suggesting that either personal factors or business disputes might have been involved.  Some observers believed that at one point he might even have been close to the celebrated classic, ‘No danger to the public’ (See ‘Official Handbook for public announcements in case of nuclear attack’) but in the event this turned out beyond the limits of the possible.  However, the public will doubtless be relieved to hear that the nine further devices discovered later had failed to detonate, and also that the police were able on the following day to confirm that the series of explosions, across five provinces, while co-ordinated, was not terrorism.

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Thoughtful Europeans [American readers may prefer to pronounce those words as ‘hidebound old-fashioned Europeans’] are reluctant to ask their internal organs to deal with the products of genetic manipulations that have produced new vegetables of types hitherto unknown to Public Health Inspectorates.  The manufacturers (or should that be ‘the experimenters’?) make great play with the argument that there cannot be anything wrong with these new gifts to the profitable success of vigorous go-ahead American biotech firms, because American consumers have been consuming ‘nature identical’ gm maize products and gm corn products for twenty years with no evidence of harmful effects.  This office would just like to draw attention to certain matters of possible relevance.

(1) The fact that some ailments can cause death without the production of any new    chemicals at all.    Cf  the ‘folding’ of the prions in bovine spongiform encephalitis

(2) Latency for some ailments sometimes being more than fifty years

(3) The current US presidential campaign and accompanying polling figures

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Late news It can be confirmed that Britain is continuing its determined effort to get away from Europe.  Measurements last week made by the British Institute for the Localisation and Geodesy of England show that Dover is already 13 centimetres further to westward of Calais than it was on the first of June this year, matched by a similar shift in Cardigan Bay.  This news has produced vigorous reactions in Dublin with some ecstatic, others in despair.  Rival manifestations are being planned.  One promoted by the tourist industry will march with the slogan Fáilte go Baile Átha Cliath, while the other made up of  those who fear they will have to take the traditional escape route to avoid the Anglo-Saxon impact will go under the banner Tá mé ag dul go Meiriceá.   

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Linguistic corner (A reader contributes)  ‘Writer’s block’ is a large piece of very hard wood on which you place the assembled notes of the book you have been working on for somewhat over three years, before taking up your axe and reducing them to tiny, wretched fragments, which you then load into three large black plastic bags in the back of the pick-up that you drive first to the dump where you trample them, ineffectively (since you are wearing rubber boots), before leaving and heading for the harbour bridge.

Amymone, we have lost your address and phone number; please get in touch with us as soon as you can

Making, and faking, history

Thanks to Karela and Maud for looking after the place while I had to be away.  Our Greek colleague has made contact again at last, more news of  him I hope next time.  Thanks as ever to Monty for his piece.

1) Putin                                       2) The flying white elephant

3) Scotland and history              4) Hotcuppa

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At a special press conference arranged to announce his forthcoming one-year job-swap, Vladimir Putin confirmed that the suggestion had been put to him personally by Ban Ki Moon.  Speaking in fluent German as he usually does when interviewed by western media he said that the idea had originally come from his friend Victor Orbán who saw it as a way to combat the dangerous tensions in eastern Europe which, for no very good or obvious reasons, had been increased sharply in recent months.  The first idea had naturally been to exchange duties with the leader of a country in the western hemisphere, but the United States had made it plain that they would be fiercely opposed to any initiative which asked them to co-operate with a President of Russia as locum head of a western nation even if only for one year.  In any case, apart from the US itself there was no country large enough or complex enough to offer any suitable partner in the arrangement, and that is why he would instead be exchanging offices with Lloyd Blankfein at the head of Goldman Sachs for one year, starting from 1st September.  He said he was looking forward to the experience as a great opportunity to see at first hand how robber capitalism works and he had been assured that Lloyd was eager to learn how Russia approached the problems of social inclusion, and was particularly interested in the techniques which had been so successful in the reduction of gang warfare since he became President in 1999.

  Challenged over whether he had the necessary expertise to deal with complex economic issues he accepted that it would be a mistake to think that pulling the strings of the world economy is exactly the same as running a large and complex nation.  On the other hand there were many similarities.  There was laughter from journalists when he added that it was not yet clear to him that a thorough knowledge of economics was an asset in governing a major economic power, given that economists’ predictions were  nearly always wrong.  In answer to further questions, he said he had not yet had time to explore the options for leisure activities at week-ends, but was very hopeful that he would be able to go hunting grizzly bears in the mountains of Alaska.

   Unfortunately as the question, in French, of a journalist from Libération was being translated,  asking whether a job-swap between top and bottom of the same society might be more instructive than one between two matching positions at the top of two different countries, there was a power failure plunging the room into darkness which could not immediately be rectified and the session had to come to an early close.  Agence NqqN

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Plaudit of the week  Congratulations to Solar Impulse 2 which has just completed its flight round the world.  This triumph is rightly hailed as showing the world how air transport is likely to develop in the years ahead.  Experts foresee ever increasing delays – Solar Impulse 2 needed 16 months to complete the journey –  and ever greater inconvenience; the trip had to be made in seventeen separate stages, in several cases involving more than 72 hours in the air.  They foresee ever increasing air fares, too, given that even when development costs are subtracted this one flight cost a figure running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And then there is the minor issue that this hugely expensive trip actually could only achieve the transport of one person at a time

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Monty Skew writes: One of the few valid generalisations about history is that the natural pre-programmed destiny of any large grouping of populations under more or less the same ruling authority is to become a bad-tempered  agglomeration of smaller nations, very often energetically at war with one another, through developing regional differences where they do not exist, and stirring them up where they already do, until the whole thing falls apart and lies in fragments scattered across the path of history.  (The Austro-Hungarian and the British empires were in their time unpopular variations on this flaw in human nature, while from more recent politics you could take Yugoslavia, or FrançAfrique; and a long view would say the Ottoman case is still playing out.)  The opposite trajectory is only achieved under heavy and often very unpleasant external pressure, and will hardly ever last more than a few decades.  One might assume that those who so painstakingly stitched together (with cobbler’s twine) the patchwork quilt of the European Union never had time to read any history books.  (This is not necessarily to say they are intellectually challenged.  There is a pretty good general rule that other things equal, the greater the number of people you put together for a common purpose, the lower their collective IQ will become.  Look at football crowds, conversation in student bars, Prime Minister’s Questions (if you are British) or discussion papers issued by the EU.  Not for nothing the Middle Ages thought universities should be places where scholars lived each in their cell isolated from the outside world, and unmarried.)

            Anyway now that the various parts have started falling off the ozymandian bandwagon, starting with the Great British chunk, it is time to start thinking about how the pieces can be picked up, dusted off, repaired and put back in service on a more human scale.  Any European nation worth its salt needs to have the full run of national characteristics: national flag, national airline, national language (tough luck, Belgium and Switzerland, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles), national anthem, national symbol, national game, and national dress.  This much is agreed by all sensible commentators.  But what is particularly interesting is the way that things stack up in Scotland’s case. National flag?  The Saltire.  National airline?  Perhaps their weakest point but still 9 out of 10 (two regional lines). Then it goes: Gaelic, Scotland the Brave, the Loch Ness monster, not just one game but a whole set of Highland Games; and the kilt.  And then they even have a bonus entry.  National musical instrument?  The bagpipes.  Not just the best score in Europe, probably the best in the world.  Skilled politologues will see at once that this is a nation in good nick and ready to go.  Holding it back could in fact risk an explosion dangerous for the whole region.  Now, Sturgeon may well be worried about winning the necessary referendum, given the opportunities which hi-tech voting systems  provide for industrial-scale electoral fraud.  But there is an answer.  She should start a campaign to ensure that the electorate for the vote consists of the entire adult population of the island of Great Britain.  Given the clearly enormous impact on both sides of the border this proposal would be almost impossible to resist on both moral and political grounds.  The question to be put will then of course be ‘Should England and Scotland become entirely separate countries’.  It’s all Wall Street to a china orange that the result will be an overwhelming ‘yes’, even if every single elector in Scotland votes ‘No’.

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From our affiliated print publication The Pedicurist’s Illustrated Quarterly Gazette

The Hotcuppa trial opens tomorrow.  Lawyers are agog to see what happens in this sensational trial which began with a low-level complaint about the expression of unacceptable racist and sexist language but has developed and expanded like the costs of a government infrastructure project into a page one media storm.  The key fact about it all is that the victim of the allegedly offensive remarks, a former model, and now prize-winning novelist, is the person who made them, about herself.  There will be two teams of lawyers in court, both working for the publishing firm which ‘edited’ and produced her book, one for the defence and one for the prosecution.  After weighing up the interests of free speech and the likelihood or otherwise of a guilty verdict the judge allowed publication of the offending remarks.  In her fictionalised autobiography the author wrote: ‘In my new school I soon got the nickname ‘Hotcuppa’, which was a shortening for ‘Hot cuppa tea’, which I personally liked mostly because of the teacher gave it me.  Fit guy and then some, but that’s another story.  He said I made him think of a hot cup of tea, being I was hot, strong, brown and very sweet.’

(Continued on page 95 with full page spread.)