Spoons in the east, beetles underfoot

(1) Editorial note   (2) tasers   (3)   muzak in the wallpaper  (4) self-contradiction in the EU  (5) capitalist competition in reality  (6) footnote


The Editor writes:  The next distribution which we hope to make is pencilled in for 30 OctoberPlease note that this time there will be no earlier supplementary distributions.  In the first part of the intervening period we shall be conducting our annual ceremony of respect and honour for Rupert Murdoch.  We should like to speak highly of his private life and of the doubtless many and ingenious methods by which the enterprises he has fostered pursue their noble goal of disseminating to the world news that the world should be told, but shall forbear; these are matters of which we have no privileged knowledge and we hesitate to repeat mere hearsay, no matter how warmly it glows.  However the steadfast loyalty of this cosmopolitan magnate to his determination to lead the world’s foremost publishing and media group has been obvious to all.  How can we not see that his companies have set cultural standards for the nations of the earth, providing their populations with a new understanding of what counts as fitting behaviour and social mores, and seeking to offer ever more attractive visions of human life to those who would view them.  Who will deny that those who have been touched by the influence of his enterprises even at second, third, or fourth hand are moved to greater love for their fellow human beings and an almost irresistible desire to do whatever they can to promote peace between nations, and equal and fair dealing between all?

  Thereafter, those of us in this office will each be spending two weeks in rather different fashion, undergoing a renewal experience (despite mockery from certain critics in more sedentary – or sedimentary – sections of the media; they know who they are).  Our goal is to place ourselves in a framework different from our life in Guernsey in as many ways as possible, socially, geographically, meteorologically, philosophically, and even gastronomically.  For instance, I am to be zipped into the costume of a giant panda and sent out to entertain the crowds in an American theme park by dancing and singing nursery rhymes in time to recorded music operated by a switch in my backside.  Manos has just returned from London depressed, after learning that the official who finally agreed to allow him an interview to discuss his innovative proposal for velcro strips on future banknotes ¹, was the deputy to the director of the Bank’s car pool, and his encouraging reaction may therefore count for little.  Nevertheless, and even though this is his first year with us, Manos will be the assisant cook on a trawler taking mentally disturbed children on three-day trips in the Bay of Biscay.  (The Chief Psychiatrist of the institution where the children are held believes that the combination of fear and seasickness is a splendid method for producing a recovery of normal behaviour patterns.)  Our hope in these ventures is that we shall acquire a deeper understanding of others and their ways, and return with a far less simplified grasp of our own situation and presuppositions (which by no means excludes the notion of condemning ignorant and self-indulgent critics). 

  Jeremy alone will not take part having kindly agreed to feed the guard dog, since we were unable to find any alternative solution to that problem, meanwhile taking online a course of (very expensive) Californian psychotherapy intended to cure what the counsellor who recommended the course described as his ‘guilty, unnatural and self-destructive lust’ for olives (one of a number of remarkable cures offered by this estimable consultancy).  (Personally I think it is just another example of the trouble one can get into through trawling the internet.)

   We wish our readers well until 30 October, when we hope to be able to give news of a controversial new theory about Stonehenge.

¹ [see distribution 15 September]


taser mysteries  from 10-10-2012

Legal proceedings are under way in Sydney into the death last March of a Brazilian student aged 23.   He was reported to police as having been involved in an armed robbery.  In fact he was unarmed, and it turned out that he had taken two packets of biscuits without paying for them.  A policeman who tasered him, twice, using the weapon directly on his skin, denied hearing him cry out ‘Help’ and ‘What did I do?even though at that time the victim was lying on the ground handcuffed and apparently virtually naked.  The weapon was used against him in bursts of between five and fourteen seconds.  It was stated that he had taken a dose of a hallucinogen and was in what was described as a psychotic state; reports did not clarify whether he had realised that those who had attacked him and thrown him to the ground, initially six although in all there were eleven around him as he died, were policemen.

Legal mystery: the proceedings are described as an inquest to discover how he died.

Social order mystery: what are the prospects for the mentally ill, or indeed the merely eccentric, who go out at night in Sydney?

Educational development mystery: what are the current prospects for universities trying to attract students from overseas?

Continuing mysteries: when will we get an answer to the question put in the second item in the distribution of 5 June?  And if none is forthcoming, why?


Deviathon, the well-known multinational conglomerate based in Madagascar and tax havens throughout the world has triumphed again.  Its new ‘musepaper’, muzak-impregnated wallpaper, claimed to be superior to anything else on the market, is intended to entertain and soothe the housewife as she moves around her house through the day.  It comes in two ranges.  One has mostly abstract designs, and it is the colour and colour combinations in these which control the easy-listening muzak that emerges whenever the sensors register the approach of an occupant of the room.  The ‘superpremium’ wallpaper of this type is especially suitable for those with a creative itch, since the muzak is not pre-recorded but will be made up of different tones resembling the sounds that can be produced by electronic synthesisers which indeed they are, so that pitch, quality, and volume can be varied according to the speed and position of the human, or indeed animal, movements in its neighbourhood.  The brochure foresees hours of fun as you teach your pet to wave its paws and move this way and that so as to produce weird new versions of popular television theme tunes.  The other range of musepaper includes photographs of your favourite performers set in a variety of tasteful striped and floral designs.  A close approach to e.g. the late, great Nate Butley will start a shortened rendition of one out of his five greatest hits.  Most of the performers featured will of course be in the current charts, since the firm is counting on built-in obsolescence in the muzak and pop industries.  This, they anticipate, could reduce the use-span of the average roll of wall-paper from its presentday eight to twelve years down to less than six months, with a corresponding dramatic increase in profits.

  Asked if there were any plans to produce a range with pictures of classical composers so that a close approach would elicit a few favourite bars of some symphony or concerto, the spokeswoman responded ‘What is a concerto?’ and when this matter was cleared up, answered simply ‘No’.


Readers’ letters

  Madam, Can any of your readers find a rational explanation of what looks like a piece of self-contradiction?  In February 2008 Kosovo declared its independence from the rest of Serbia.  This event was apparently favoured by the benevolence (towards the Albanians of Kosovo) of a strange combination of the European Union and Nato, but we pass over this unusual feature, as also the allegations about questionable aspects of the Kosovan government.  Although a considerable number of nations still do not recognise the validity of the declaration (which seems to be in contradiction of the UN charter), there is no doubt that the core administration of the European Union does accept it, apparently on the basis that it was a change of national boundaries made necessary in order better to match the ethnic pattern of the populations in the region.

  Since then there has been a consistent and very strong demand from the overwhelmingly Serbian population of the three northernmost municipalities of Kosovo, that their territory should be restored to Serbia and detached from the rest of the traditional Kosovo.  The European Union’s administration resists this firmly, apparently on the basis that national boundaries should not be changed even if in order better to match the ethnic pattern of the populations in the region.

  It is not easy to explain such an inconsistency; it could not possibly be on the basis that one particular ethnic group, here the Serbs, has simply been classified as ‘the wrong sort’.  Such ideas would not exist at any rational level of politics in the modern world.  Would they?

Lobelia Helgasdottir

from Luddites Gazette


Economic shorts

  The assertion, that while state enterprises in a nationalised sector inevitably lead to inefficiency, competition between private companies will lead to improved operation and a better deal for customers, does not sit comfortably with this news just out of the U.K.

  Gas supply to households in Britain was technically privatised in the 1980s but remained a regulated monopoly until 1996.  Now a number of private firms compete.  All of them have decided to raise the price to consumers in the coming year by between six and nine percent.  The current rate of inflation on the other hand is 2.5%.  The biggest supplier is British Gas, affiliated to Centrica.  Centrica made a profit of £1.45 billion in the first six months of this year; £345 million of that was attributed to supplying gas to domestic households.  Incidentally, fears have been expressed that deaths among the elderly poor are likely to result from the price increases.

  It may also interest some to know that according to media report a Mr Laidlaw, the boss of Centrica  had a total ‘compensation’ package (pay + extras) last year of £4.1 million plus an entitlement to shares in 2014 anticipated to be worth £5 million, provided that company profits show a satisfying increase.  It is not thought, however, that prospects for an increase will be damaged severely by the increase in price to consumers.

from Luddites Gazette


sour observation

some might describe the views of well-paid economists that ‘increasing wealth of a country’ = ‘increasingly satisfactory situation of its population’ as two fallacies folded into one economists’ superstition: that what is true for an ensemble is true for all its members, while ‘increasing wealth’ = ‘increasingly satisfying condition’


honor honestique floreant