For the past two weeks we have had a new intern. (Readers will be glad to hear that Sephelia is no longer in prison, but has not yet been able to reclaim her British passport and is still unable to leave Uganda. However we learned that a former editor of this journal (officially still on unpaid leave of absence suffering from acute stress) is now in residence and acting as deputy manager at Madam Filoufa’s Hot Lotus Bar Resort, apparently a country club for members of the legal profession, and we have been able to transmit a small amount weekly to pay for Sephelia’s food and lodging.)
Our new intern Maud Timoshenko, a graduate of Dublin University, has been with us for two weeks, and is believed to be one of the last graduates anywhere not closely related to someone already established in the media who is nevertheless still hoping to succeed in becoming a journalist before the last of the old-style news outlets either declares bankruptcy or is converted into an ‘easy-reading’ ‘popular’ magazine. We took her on after an interview showed her to be unusually literate for her generation and, much more important, not dementedly computerate, and now that she has mastered the basics of our outfit (except for keeping the supplies of slivovitz and ouzo well topped up, but so much the better for Karela and Manos in my opinion) we are letting her have a posting of her own (to which according to tradition she is fully entitled to add any scraps she finds and chooses from among the multitudinous piles of paper around the office.)
We learn that US forces in Europe are to be reinforced to ‘deal with Russian aggression’. I find this puzzling. Perhaps I should explain my own family background. Although our family name is of course Ukrainian, we are even in my generation a Russian-speaking family and have no doubt that we consider ourselves Russian, whatever our passports. The family home was originally not far from Kharkov, but as World War II came to its close my grandmother and grandfather were able to move to France, and then in the next generation my parents moved to Ireland ‘to be as far away as possible from Stalin even when he’s dead’. My father had advanced ideas on education and I was home-schooled which was easy then although it has become more difficult since. My home-schooling included the ethnological, geological, and political history and geography of Europe. I learned then that just before the Berlin wall fell the Russian government working out of Moscow controlled not only the Russian Federation, but also Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany. For the sake of friendly progress benefitting both the former adversaries, when the wall fell, James Baker, the American Secretary of State, promised that Nato would not advance into the territory previously controlled by Moscow, by ‘one inch’. However, at present, in one way or another all those countries are under the influence of Nato and in most at least there are western military forces. Russia has not even mounted a defensive war to stop this. As for the Crimea, it had long been a part of the Russian Federation, well into my grandmother’s lifetime, and my own family knows that the people in the east of the Ukraine were mostly (not all, but mostly) Russian (which may help to explain why Kiew thought the best way to keep them as ‘its own’ citizens was to use heavy weapons against them.) So I have two questions. What does ‘aggression’ mean – ‘peaceful retreat’ ? And why are the news media at present making such a big story about energetic moves to end it?
Conundrum of the week : What is the minimum period of residence required in the following localities before a family or individual believes they can claim the right to describe later arrivals as economic migrants?
a) Dresden b) Australia c) Wales d) Portsmouth (UK)
Health news The obesity horizon event is now occurring earlier in Europe than at any time in the past fifty years. This is the scientific term for the last day when light from his feet no longer reaches the eyes of a man standing erect For the average man in most European countries it occurred at least three years earlier in 2015 than in 2008
Linguistic corner Most of us know the term isotherm for lines on a map which join points with the same temperature. In much the same way isomore is the term for lines which join points of equal stupidity. The map in this case can be, but is not necessarily, geographical. Thus the isomore BF48% for northern Europe (delineated in accord with data constantly updated by the EU Directorate for the Mental Environment using a formula devised by highly trained economists) at present passes through about 260 points including the Ministries of Health and of Education in London, an exhibition of modern installationist art in Dublin, a small yacht currently signalling for help in the Atlantic just south of Rockall, a certain fishmonger’s premisses at the foot of High Street on this very island where we work so hard to improve the lot of the human race, and through (for the 189th week in an unbroken sequence) the decision to bomb Libya and then assume that it would sort itself out satisfactorily provided it received messages of verbal support from the British government.
Extracts from readers’ observations (no.264)
… in fact businessmen like this fellow claiming credit for economic growth strikes me as rather like pests claiming the credit for the development of the pesticide industry and the jobs of its associated workforce. Clarence MacNaught (Obergurgl, VT)
if you liked this footnote you may also like the following
Peeps into the Pageant of our Political Past (no.83)
Social Credit: Starting during World War I, Major C.H.Douglas collected a large amount of data from British businesses and discovered that contrary to previous dogma the total money generated by a company and becoming available in a community (through salaries, wages, and dividends) is almost invariably less than the costs to the community of the company’s production of those goods and services. He devised a scheme aimed at improving the economic (and political) position of the individual citizen, and released the idea into the wild in 1924 in a book called Social Credit without any great hope of fame or recognition even, let alone wealth, but nonetheless with confidence that its own excellence and clarity would let it exert some beneficial influence on humanity. It almost took off in Canada, in the province of Alberta, but reactionaries and authorities world-wide became aware of the threat in time, and combined to hunt down the principles and reduce them to a pitiable wreck of what might have been. Some believe that the international convention, widely followed in other anglophone nations, to speak of Canada with a mixture of sympathy and benevolent amusement was actually organised at this time.
Surprise of the week. Former prime minister Blair,(still at liberty, and who recently set records for unpopularity as a Middle East peace envoy) has suggested that the war in Syria can only be brought to an end by having western boots on the ground in the areas where conflict still continues. Many of all political persuasions from Gallowegian to the authoritarian wing of the Tory Party have voiced strong approval of this proposal on condition that two of the boots belong to Mr Blair
[The answer to ‘Conundrum’ is that it depends on the relative economic condition of the residents and the arrivals, the economic condition of the locality, and the colour of the skin of each group, and not at all on the length of the period of residence.]