What I am doing on my holiday

Mass shootings: boomerangs: cutting the electoral roll :

Fegan’s Careful Customer Guide to Shopping :

Appeal:  Frankfurt Airport: Note on history:

The credibility frontier


Hello! I’m Selma Gandy, your acting Editor for this issue of ammophila. ( If you want explanation, read this paragraph; if you don’t just go straight down to the first item.)  ‘Ed’ is sticking conscientiously to his long-term principle of not doing any useful work, and has therefore taken advantage of my visit to this island to put his principle into practice.  Once, many years ago him and me used to have a special relationship but we both had enough sense not to think of anything foolish like keeping it permanent.  But friends – not that he has many! – passed on scraps of information, and once or twice he got into the ‘other news’ items, for instance that time when the collected strength of Ammophila – seven of them at that time – went over to France for New Year 2016.  So when the office offered me a month off on full pay as a reward for something I’ve fixed up in BA I grabbed the chance, couldn’t wait to get really far away from city life for once, and this place is just perfect for that.  Ed is playing ball nicely and behaving himself better than I’d ever have guessed, and he’s given me a pile of notes of stuff that could go into a posting.  So here goes.

(These bits are pretty much as he handed them over so don’t blame me!  SG.)


Mass shooting  Doesn’t the fact that mass-killers are always or very nearly always male, suggest an important way that men and women are not equal?  Answer’s obvious, but another thing that’s obvious is the question that could be asked after the next mass shooting (though in fact it won’t be asked, at least not anywhere where it might lead to some practical effect).  That question is ‘Would he have killed all 16/21/29/53 (delete or insert fresh number as appropriate) of them if he’d been running after them with a hand axe or the (repeat preceding number) lengths of rope, but without a gun?‘


Boomerangs  As part of their campaign for cultural treasures and ancestral relics to be returned to Oz, activists are organising an ‘event’ on the shore of Sydney Harbour.  A major item in the programme is to be a competition, inspired by the publicity always given to seriously ‘late returns‘ of  books borrowed from libraries, but in this case aiming to set a world record for late return of a boomerang.  Teams will compete to produce specially developed boomerangs, very large but relatively light which can take as long as four minutes to return to within three metres of the spot from which they were thrown.  To add further publicity, the winning team will be allowed a second throw at two minutes to midnight so that the boomerang can return the day after it was thrown.


Political reform There’s always some political group or other whinging about the need to reduce the voting age.‘because young people are much more aware these days‘ (or for some other alleged reason that can be knocked together out of a lie, an irrelevance, an unsupported claim, and the belief that it could improve their group’s standing in the polls (not to mention the mysterious donations from hard-to-identify characters lurking in the political shadows at the back of the internet.)  Actually, thanks to social media  ‘young people‘ are more aware these days of what’s trending on facebook and of the physical appearance from many varied angles of their intimate friends than they are of the onward march of global totalitarianism (thanks again to the internet) or of what’s really happening beyond the darkening horizons. (Admittedly their ignorance saves the more delicate ones from things they’d much prefer not to know about anyway.)  In reality what is needed to keep the collapsing apparatus of political civilisation on the road for a few more years yet (where it functions at all, that is) is not more voting at the bottom of the age range, but less voting at the top.  Cancel the vote for all those over the age of 60, immediately, on their birthday.  Most of the crumblies, an age-group hugely over-represented in the governments of most countries, know more about football or golf or personal investment opportunities or boxed set tv ‘dramas‘ than about the realities of how their country is managed and run, and that’s before we even get on to the issue of the disappearing marbles.  And out of those who do have a clue, ninety percent will be making their judgements on the way things were – or rather the way things were officially supposed to be – twenty, thirty or forty years ago.  So why are those who really pull the strings keeping up the charade?

[Nb from S.G..  Unlike other groups Farage‘s Brexit party made elderly voters a special target in the recent European elections.  That Brexit party, starting from nothing a few weeks earlier, came top of the poll.]


(from Fegan’s Careful Customer Guide to Shopping) :

            Counterservice  If you’re lucky this may indicate  a counter where you can get service – advice and help with purchases.   In other cases it may be using ‘counter’ as in the word ‘counteract’, or ‘counterintuitive’, marking the part of a store where incautious customers find e.g. they are not going to get the refund to which the terms and conditions (in the brightly coloured ten-page leaflet that came with the goods) seem to say they are entitled

            Interlegibility  This may sound as though it explains the way to actually make the purchase work.  But in some outlets this could refer to instructions written with skilful ambiguity, so as to deprive customers of something adverts had seemed to offer

            Pro-performing.  Sounds efficient, but in some stores can refer to equipment that can only be made to work in the hands of a professional demonstrator

            Retrofittable ‘Ah,’ the naïve customer murmurs, ‘We don’t have to pay it all at once.  We can see how the basic equipment could work for us and then get it fully installed if it does look like an advantage.’  ‘No, dearie.  This actually means the gear belongs to a range in an old-fashioned  style which is now being discontinued, though we’ll go on selling the stuff till the stock’s all cleared out.’

            Hypertonic  A tonic is good for you of course, and ‘hyper’ sounds as if you’re dealing with something high grade, so this could bring the punters in, but when it comes to retail merchandise the term doesn’t actually have to mean anything at all.

            Extraportable  This simply means that you are going to have to lug it home yourself.


Appeal for anyone who can help, to do so.  Jonathan who almost joined our group ten years ago is in deep trouble.  He is the guy from Balham who reasoned that experiments on telepathy should use animals on the grounds that their neural (?) processes would probably be more basic than those of the human and therefore less likely to experience and cause disturbance in transmission than dealing with humans.  He has claimed a considerable degree of success though not to the levels that would get him into the headlines.  (No grasp of PR.)  Alleges he is kept awake at nights by his intuition telling him what the neighbourhood dogs, and more particularly cats, are up to or hoping to be  up to. He read a story about a group somewhere in southern Iraq, I think, who were also into telepathy with animals though in their case the prime colleagues on the animal side were camels.  So earlier this year he took a trip out there to meet some of them.  Not a huge success, one gathers, with the deficit in Arabic language not fully compensated by the telepathy.  Things went badly astray however on the return journey.  He was arrested at Heathrow, by spooks whe suspected he was a member of a group which allegedly exists, and has allegedly been passing on secret information (to whom and about what has not yet been revealed).  Nonetheless he has already become the subject of an extradition request, on the grounds that in the alleged transmissions he had used American electricity.  Anyone who had done any proper investigation would have found out he had been fooling around with his ideas in Notting Hill, transmitting only to the local animals, for years.  His case is not helped by the fact that his surname is De la Tanière, which (admittedly in French) means ‘from the lair’.  Please do what you can to bring his case to public attention.

[I personally strongly support this appeal which was dated 21-6-2019.  S.G.]


At the airport  A Frenchman, an Englishman, and an Irishman were in a bar in Frankfurt Airport when a weather report came on screen with yet another series of rainbelts forecast.   The Frenchman remarked that it was high time to organise no-holds-barred street protests about the depressing weather.  The Englishman said ‘See your point, old chap.  But you can’t appeal against a weather forecast, y‘know.‘  ‘No, indeed’ the Irishman replied ‘So we must tell them to give us the forecast from somewhere which gets better weather.’   ‘What do you think, Donald,’ they said turning to Trump who happened to be in the bar at that moment.  He was silent for an instant, then he banged his fist on the bar, smashing a glass and cutting his fingers as he shouted ‘All options are on the table.’


Memo to any warmonger who believes he is finding time heavy on his hands: history does indeed repeat itself, many times over.  For instance, there’s a three-part scenario that’s been running for hundreds of years in Asia around 66E 35N.  Stage 1: foreign forces invade Afghanistan. [Those who prefer may rephrase this as ‘send humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan]  Stage 2: the expedition ends in costly failure with serious casualties on all sides, including of course the civilians.  Stage 3: the number of attempts by forces inside Afghanistan to set out to conquer surrrounding areas and, with luck, the world remains at zero.


Hard to believe but it seems the UN issued a report not long ago that made two points among many, which I repeat as reported (apparently in English) :

The Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen is having little effect on the ground

Ten thousand civilians have been killed.

Please ask Jeremy Hunt, British Foreign Secretary, for his comment.