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.


(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.


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?


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.


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


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.   


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