Cui bono?

honor hominesque honesti floreant

Category: peace

MMQQ3

Ok, I am willing to disclose that ‘MM’ stands for ‘Mid-monthly’.  I don’t want to say more than that except that I didn’t choose the beastly name.

The start to the year has been quite agreeable.  Cards from quite a lot of readers, and a colourful backpack made with llama’s wool from Isabelita, a personal visit (about to end) from Berthold, who brought his bike, evidently not realising how steep the island’s roads  are (and who has given us a couple of contributions while he’s here), and a long letter from Monty although he obviously couldn’t come in person; but there are a couple of extracts from it below.  We even had an evening when Simon came round, although we have hardly seen him here since his mother ran away.  Anyway to business –

(i)  If at first you don’t succeed…?         (ii)  A friend in fiend’s clothing

(iii)  Which women’s rights?                  (iv)  The Tories march on

(v)  Statecraft                                           (vi)  Obscenity

Playing it again, Uncle Sam?  A few weeks ago under the leadership of America an oil blockade was established against North Korea with the idea of crippling that country’s industry to make  it agree to open negotiations about its military progress.  North Korea denounced the blockade as a declaration of war even though it was not put into words as such.  Not changing the subject, a fact now little known, in the west, is  that the Pacific War which later became the eastern wing of World War 2 did not start in 1941.  It really got going with the Japanese invasions of China in the 1930s.  In December 1941 Japan began major military operations against America, bombing Pearl Harbour.  (Historical note: earlier in 1941 an oil blockade against Japan, virtually certain to cripple Japanese industry, was established under the leadership of America.)

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(From the e-mail from Monty)   (The Russian enigma)

I hear you have been puzzled as to why we and our colleagues in other right-thinking countries have been ramping up the pressure, as the so-called ‘popular press’ and its online outlets put it, on Russia.  I would have thought it was effing obvious to anyone with your background even if you’re now out of the game, not that you were ever in it properly.  Even the dimmest member of that tiny minority of the populace who actually pay any attention to the news these days will spot there is something wrong with the idea that 300 of the poor bloody infantry doing route marches in Estonia would slow down the Russian steamroller by more than a minute or two if it ever started to clank into action.  Not that that is remotely likely to happen.  The situation of mutual hostility, in public, is entirely agreeable to friend Putin in Moscow (or on the Sotchi Riviera) – handsomely reinforces his image as the valiant defender of Mother Russia against the hordes of capitalist decadence.  Both sides benefit enormously – difficulties can be blamed on the constraints of ‘the international situation’, and it can be made clear to troublemakers, in any way that seems convenient to government, that they ‘risk playing into the hands of the other side’; so governments can concentrate on keeping their own show tight and businesslike while developing the bread and circuses to the extent they deem advisable.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating.  From, let’s say about 1948, western Eurasia has had the longest spell without major international violence (so long as you leave the Balkans out of account, as you should because as everyone knows they are a law – exactly the wrong word in this case – unto themselves) since records were notches in wooden tally sticks.  Of course you don’t need to bruit the arrangment abroad too much – I suggest you just put it in that blog of yours if you want to keep it quiet (sorry, old man, only joking, I think, but you’re not a household name, you know). Things got a little wobbly in 1990 when despite James Baker’s best efforts some of the hawks in Washington had a mighty adrenaline rush, but Moscow handled it with exemplary calm, along with the fact that they did have genuine economic problems to go with the political upheavals.  Then of course attention got switched away to the Middle East anyway – poor Avril Glaspie –  thanks to the ever increasing thirst for oil.  Right now it again looks as if some of the wilder spirits in Washington are pushing too hard; it had always been understood that Ukraine was not to be in play.  Nonetheless as of January 2018 you may still argue that a cold war is the best defence against a hot war.

            If you want to really find out what’s going on you don’t look at what’s on public show and all over the news media, you have to look at the next layer underneath, as here, and by co-incidence I got another example of the principle when I was over in Washington last month.  I was asking about Trump’s chances of serving a full term, in the White House I mean, not in the ‘pen’, and one and all said he was as good as a bolted fixture in the Oval Office.  Reason?  He’s the best defence they have against a presidential Pence.

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(Berthold)  It’s very odd, isn’t it, that while the campaign to put a higher proportion of women into prominent positions in public life is no doubt progressing well there seems to be a strange shortage of good candidates who are over 40, or overweight, or flat-chested, or have bad dress sense, or move awkwardly.  Who do you suppose makes the appointments to these positions?

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Advances in technology (noted by the Editor)

Following the path supposedly leading to ‘support’, which indeed I was looking for, on a microsoft website I was led (18-11-2017) to a screen containing, only, two lines both written in the same apparently serious and sober typeface, with the following words:

      Try searching for what you want

      This page does not exist

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Extracted from ‘The Triumphant Tories’ vol.XIV (sectn. 9,082)  Punching above your weight

… In 1940 Winston Churchill united the British people and took on the fight against Nazi Germany, leading the struggle through the years that followed until he finally won victory in 1945

…  In 2003 Mr Blair boldly brushing aside questions about treason and international law (and disuniting the nation) gallantly led, or at least sent, the forces of his sovereign (including more than 400 British personnel who would not survive the engagement) into Iraq to face the might of Saddam Hussein and the terrible threat posed by the bastions holding weapons of mass destruction, (stealth weapons, invisible and impossible to detect by normal means),  throughout that country

…  In 2018 Theresa May calls on the nation to unite under her leadership by joining a resolute campaign to end once and for all the use of plastic packaging in small and medium-sized retail  enterprises.

[Footnote to the above item: Actually Churchill did not win the war (in Europe).  He stopped it being lost in 1940, but Russia won it.  Churchill kept it going when it could have been ended,  at the cost of tens of thousands more casualties to innocent civilians, and large numbers of ‘allied’ troops, by insisting on unconditional surrender.  If you don’t believe that, just pick up any reasonably thorough reasonably honest history book.]

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Saying of the month (from one of the leading figures to be in Davos this month) Taking a careful look at the presidents and heads of state of just about all the democratic countries in the west, I’d say it’s about time we gave hereditary absolute monarchy another chance.

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Mysteries of biology (no.114.)  Why is it that the human is the only mammal that (all too often) thinks it can sing?

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Shithole (Jointly written by Berthold Featherstonehaugh-Cheems and the Editor) An American genius who comes with his own guarantee of stability has been reported as saying that America doesn’t want migrants from shithole countries.  Assuming, despite his allegations to the contrary, those reports to be right you might have hoped for a world-wide roar of disapproval.  In fact you got one, but for the wrong reasons as the world’s media plunged predictably for the most immediately visible ‘outrage’ button, to be pressed when a ‘double-plus’ word seems to be linked to a ‘double-minus’ idea in the same sentence .  (This is a faulty reflex wrongly installed in the great majority of humans, and can only be re-programmed with the utmost difficulty; in 1939 Cambridge, Massachusetts made it illegal to own, hold, or carry in that city any book, magazine or map containing the words ‘Lenin’ or ‘Leningrad’. footnote )  There are three valid options for outrage here.   Berthold spent three weeks of his vacation last year as a volunteer in one of the countries that may have been in the mind of the genius  (if clear enough) and he says that the description ‘shit-hole’ (Ed. surely this should be the approved spelling?) is not always literally appropriate but certainly gives a realistic impression of the conditions of life of 30% to 40% of the population of the country he was in.  Public services including healthcare miserably inadequate, corruption, poverty, squalor, and crime with a constant risk of violence against those unable to defend themselves (not least against the police). That is the first valid reason for outrage, but the people entitled to express it are too worn-down by the struggle for existence to have enough physical resources left.  The ones who expressed the outrage at the recent remarks are not infrequently members of the ruling élite or at least hangers on, with comfortable life-styles, well-paid positions (and in many countries it’s better not to inquire into the source of the money), and possibly representing their country abroad.  The second option arises when you consider how those deplorable conditions have arisen – in many cases through the wrong sort of contacts, and the wrong sort of contracts, with ‘colonial powers’ and similar who are largely unconcerned if matters continue in the same state.  (Eight years since the great earthquake in Haiti and still wretched conditions; yet a few dozen miles away is a nation oversupplied with billionaires, with the means over a golfing week-end to put everything right and go down in history as big-hearted saviours of the country).  The third outrage is that with a few honourable exceptions the ‘developed’ nations do not merely tolerate these injustices continuing, they add to them, skilfully extracting natural resources on favourable terms (favourable, that is, to those already prospering) and enticing away those with talents and training that could help their own people to climb up to a better, cleaner, healthier life, so that they can instead ‘top up gaps’ in the public services or the IT industries of the developed world.

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footnote This is not fake news.  See S.I.Hayakawa Language in Thought and Action

Editor-shaped Space Empty

Maud here.  We’ve been abandoned by the Editor.  At least we think he’s off on holiday, but we had absolutely no warning till Wednesday morning when he wasn’t here.  We – that’s me and Karela – just found a note on the door, saying he’d had an urgent call and was going on the early boat.  Actually he must have left by that time.  Meantime it  said we have to fill in here, and call Monty and Berthold to see if they have anything to send over, and we could trying finding out where the Mad Doc is at present, otherwise it’s up to us what gets posted.  Then Friday morning we had a call from Heathrow (at least that’s where he said he was).  He wouldn’t say where he was going, just that he had to meet an old friend, but he sounded quite cheerful, even though we worked out he must have arrived in Britain too late to lay in a big stock of legal highs which is what we suspect he was after.  Eddy also mentioned  he’d had an excited SMS from Manos who is still in Germany and still believes he has a real chance of saving the world from global war (I think that must be a mistake for ‘global warming’ but with him you can never be sure) with his idea of genetically modified grass.  Eddy said if he had time he’d send a WhatsApp about some notice they were all handed at the inner entry gate at the airport, and he did so here it is, to prove he wasn’t lying (again) which we thought first off he was.  (Sorry, Eddy, we mean making things up.)  Here it is:

First-class passengers may now take their places in the Libor Laureate Lounge.  All other passengers must proceed in a quiet and orderly fashion to the disrobing rooms.  Remember to take your fingerprints with you, if you do not you will have to return to the Departures entry point and start your application to enter Departures again.  Anyone who has recently been in contact with anything that might be or might resemble a psychoactive substance, other than alcohol, (see lists on left and facing walls) must instead go immediately to the security detection facility and await their turn to be tested.

Anyway it seems it really is up to us now, plus Simon if he comes in, which is probably more likely now that Eddy is away.  We’ve had a rummage through all the drawers that weren’t locked, and even pulled stuff out of the bin, but haven’t found all that much.  Apart from handwritten scrawls which we couldn’t read and crumpled balls of paper here it is:  (but we did also find some used envelopes, with stamps on from Georgia, three of those, one each from Armenia, Tanzania, and Bolivia, but that one was probably from Dr Philipp)

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Linguistic corner

Favourite phrases of the 45% or so of the world’s population that connects to the internet every day: ‘We all’; ‘everybody’; ‘100 times a day’; ‘all the time’; and indeed ‘every day’.  What is it about too much time spent looking at the garbage that fills most electronic screens most of the time, which causes enfeeblement of awareness of the condition of the real world around us?

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Linguistic corner (As you see there were two of these) : A ‘remarck’ is an observation which explains some historical event in terms of realpolitik

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Question of the week : As humanity licks the last scraps of civilisation from the bottom of the jar, haven’t we about reached the year in which some attention-seeking American university department arranges with a zoo to bring up a human child as a chimp?

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(a loose sheet with no heading, handwriting of Editor)

From obit of Frau Honecker, E.Gmn ‘education’ minister.  Education to include socialism principles practice.  ‘purpose of education’ to bring kids up practising socialists.  Odd, like mirror current views capitalist theory, Tories.  How ‘our’ gov’t (whoever) is (nobly and properly) run, civic education, in UK ‘British values’.  Purpose education (acc. to EU commissner!) ‘to fit for job market’.  Well, well.

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Late news

The government proposals to privatise crime are being put on hold after, it is reported, strenuous opposition from members of the ruling party   (Where?)

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One reason they take his side so readily is that he has the air of a white-collar criminal, who had been thrown into chokey for physical assault, now just out under provisional licence.

(We don’t know who this is supposed to be but we can guess.  M and K.)

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(This item is printed on the sort of lined paper Berthold uses, so it is probably from him)

Trivial examples and genera l truths

First the trivial example: country after country is closing down its colourful street markets.  They are being closed down because they do not look respectable and orderly, and they ‘present a bad image to tourists’.  This is a useful indicator of the intelligence level of the average government, which can be expressed as a question: ‘Do they suppose that tourists go to visit their country because it has no street markets and its streets are respectable and orderly?’  The general truth is of course that lack of intelligence is no bar to success in politics.  Manifestations of this truth range up and down the scale from relatively harmless to devastating, and the same variability exists in the scale of another general truth.  On the 6th August, the way that the anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima is marked will be an example from fairly low on the scale for this truth.  It consists in the fact that so few will be made aware, in reports on the anniversary, of a fact relevant to the original 1945 event itself.  Solemn ceremonies will be noted, solemn declarations will be made.  A very few may be reminded that it was stated that the bombing was a demonstration, to avoid the casualties to invading forces if the war was to continue; but the enormously more important fact, hard up to the devastating end of this general truth, is that the demonstration took place at 9.15 am local time on that day.  The implications are fairly obvious.  The general truth of course is that the human race is not fit to rule either the planet or itself.

 Special note (from us)

Do read the MD column in Private Eye (copy 13th to 26th May).  Especially you readers in Britain.  Since you all need Sats tests from age 7 upwards to show you’re able to make your proper contribution to the economic progress of your country, how about IQ tests before  your MPs can become a government minister (or for people before they can become an MP)?

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Take care all! Maud and Dr Karela