Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Lust

Oooh.

An Edward Gorey auction.
17. GOREY, Edward (1925 - 2000) Skull Necklace A skull neclace on a string, possible onyx, turquoise, or Abyssinian. Provenance: Edward Gorey to the Edward Gorey Charity Trust, Accompanied by a letter signed by Andreas Brown, Co-Trustee, confirming the ownership. A FINE EXAMPLE OF THE ECCENTRIC JEWELERY WORN BY EDWARD GOREY.

est. $500 – $800

Tempting, but no...

NSW Right Footshooting trophy

Arbib points out that there's no law against discussing Labor party politics with embassy officials. Well, yes; but compare and contrast -

Document H

The Petrov Document labelled ’H’ was written by Press Secretary to Dr Evatt, Fergan O’Sullivan. It is a series of pen-sketches of the 1952 Press Gallery. Fergan O’Sullivan claimed to have written Document H to help the Soviet Union target journalists who might publish pro-Soviet articles. In fact Moscow used the information in an effort to identify potential agents. No one named in Document H was found to be a Russian spy.


That one justified an entire volume of a Royal Commission.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Burn, Pigs

Reading this -
"After nearly 40 years of service, six F-111 fighter bombers have taken their final flight from Queensland's Amberley Air Force base.
The F-111 is known for its ability to get down low and fast for bombing runs, earning it the nickname 'the pig'.
Four F-111s will end up on display at military museums and the 17 others will be scrapped."
I'm not sure which is the oddest thing, historically speaking - that a combat fighter has been a credible threat for nearly 40 years - by which standard Blériot's channelcrosser would have ended up being used in Korea - or that Australia has had nearly forty years of peace, defined as 'not having to use your fighters".

Friday, December 03, 2010

Another Amis

To A Baby Born Without Limbs

This is just to show you who's boss around here.
It’ll keep you on your toes, so to speak,
Make you put your best foot forward, so to speak,
And give you something to turn your hand to, so to speak.
You can face up to it like a man,
Or snivel and blubber like a baby.
That’s up to you. Nothing to do with Me.
If you take it in the right spirit,
You can have a bloody marvelous life,
With the great rewards courage brings,
And the beauty of accepting your LOT.
And think how much good it’ll do your Mum and Dad,
And your Grans and Gramps and the rest of the shower,
To be stopped being complacent.
Make sure they baptise you, though,
In case some murdering bastard
Decides to put you away quick,
Which would send you straight to LIMB-O, ha ha ha.
But just a word in your ear, if you’ve got one.
Mind you DO take this in the right spirit,
And keep a civil tongue in your head about Me.
Because if you don't,
I’ve got plenty of other stuff up My sleeve,
Such as leukemia and polio,
(Which incidentally you're welcome to any time,
Whatever spirit you take this in.)
I’ve given you one love-pat, right?
You don’t want another.
So watch it, Jack.

Kingsley Amis

Friday, November 26, 2010

And another

This Be the Worse

They fuck you up, the chaps you choose
To do your Letters and your Life.
They wait till all that's left of you's
A corpse in which to shove a knife.

How ghoulishly they grub among
Your years for stuff to shame and shock:
The times you didn't hold your tongue,
The times you failed to curb your cock.

To each of those who've processed me
Into their scrap of fame or pelf:
You think in marks for decency
I'd lose to you? Don't kid yourself.

Robert Conquest, Demons Don't, 1999

Tip of the Borthwick hat to the eratosphere...

Realist's version, by Kingsley Amis

Life is mostly grief and labor,
Two things help us through:
Chortling when it hits your neighbor,
Whinging when it's you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Green Loser

Looking at the GL trailer at Yglesias.

The problem is that all US superhero movies take virtually the whole of the first movie to give the origin story. There's this need to spell things out. They forget that in the original Superman comic Siegel and Shuster did it in about ten frames and then got on with the story, which is much preferable.
Contrast Korean movies like The Host, which gave the origin about three minutes and then got on with it. The GL origin should be done with before the opening credits.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

KAAABA

There would seem to be difficulties with the whole world becoming moslem. Take the population as being six-odd billions, the average age 65, then about 103 million people need to make the hadj every year if the entire lot are going to get through in their lifetime (as opposed to something like 3 mill p/a at the moment). That means 103 million people are going to have to circle the kaaba three times. The mosque there is reputed to hold 800,000 in the courtyard, but I'm not clear if that's standing or circling. Say 750,000 at a time. Then you'd have to get them in and out every 40 minutes; not easy. the only way I see it as being possible would be for there to be several levels - and even then that wouldn't make the circling much easier. Perhaps if you had a spiral ramp around the kaaba so the lines didn't have to cross? I'd suspect that even then you'd need a moving pavement. And that doesn't allow for anybody going twice.

Endorsements

A while ago- around 2000 - I was collecting (well, not seriously; just buying them when I came across them cheap) American novels about the coming war with China, just to watch the pressure building up. Now I see my first example of the novels about the new war with the moslems; Prayers for the Assassin, by Robert Ferrigno (2006).

Really, all that one needs to know about the details of the book is that when the back cover quotes the Guardian as saying"I can confidently predict that Prayers for the Assassin will be a resounding success" that is extracted from this;
"Ferrigno can't be bothered to get the basics of nuclear weaponry right, let alone do justice to the implications of his main conceit. He acknowledges as sources six Islamic websites, one book and two articles, and if this was the extent of his research it's hardly surprising that the result is a pile of lamentable clichés and half-imagined characters, strung together in a plot of such hopeless absurdity that it's all but impossible to follow. In this the book compares favourably to that other bestseller, the war on terror, sold so well to the citizens of the United States over the past few years. Given that Ferrigno has taken all the prejudices and idiocies of that narrative and shovelled them between cardboard covers, I can confidently predict that Prayers for the Assassin will be a resounding success."

It's the book's existence, not its merits, that counts. And it's probably significant that I got in in a large print edition, suitable for the prejudices of the elderly.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Boing Boing

A good friend - indeed, a great friend - died. The upside was a chance to play the bungy-jumping video in St. Paul's cathedral. The downside - other than the death, of course -- was the discovery that you really can't get a good performance of Shall the circle be unbroken using a cathedral organ.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

US midterms

Well, it's certainly a victory for
* negativism over policy engagement:
the opposition can see that if they monkeywrench everything the people who will be blamed for things not getting done will be the government (the Age has an article this morning saying that Republicans can no longer carp from the sidelines but will have to propose meaningful policies; nonsense)
* short slogans over complicated arguments:
The Tea Party made it on misspelled signs
* enormous spending by rich bastards over normal political funding

And that's certainly going to be the takeaway over her in Australia, to the extent we hadn't already reached that point first.

But America has gone pretty toxic, a consequence of slowly realising in its bones that the American century is over, and the best that the rest of us can look for is that they keep their bombs in their holsters when they're blindly lashing out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Makes my turducken look sick

From Alexandre Dumas' Dictionary of Cuisine.....

Roast a l'Imperatrice

The Trojan roast pig , stuffed with figpeckers, oysters, and thrushes, and the whole basted with good wine and fine meat broth - which the Roman Senate felt itself obliged to forbid by sumptuary law because of its extravagance - must yield to the luxury of this recipe.
Take the pit out of an olive and replace it by an anchovy. Put the olive into a lark, the lark into a quail, the quail into a partridge, the partridge into a pheasant. The pheasant in its turn disappears inside a turkey, and the turkey is stuffed into a sucking pig. Roasted, this will present the quintessence of the culinary art, the masterpiece of gastronomy. But don't make the mistake of serving it whole, just like that. The gourmand eats only the olive and the anchovy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Case of the Twelve Red-Bearded Dwarves, part 31

Cocklecarrot suggested that this ludicrous case, which need never have come into court, could easily be settled if the dwarfs (in the person of the hydraulic laundry) would apologise to themselves (in the person of the rocking-horse firm) for having destroyed a twill covering for a non-existent tail. The dwarfs lined up, six a side, and apologised in chorus. They then left the court singing Moonlight and Mrs. Mason.

Cocklecarrot said afterwards, 'I am hoping that my next case will not include these tiresome little gentlemen. I think I am about due for a bit of straightforward stuff, without all these distractions and fooleries.'

Significant figures

"Stewie, a Maine Coon who lives in Reno, Nevada, is the world’s longest domesticated cat. He measures 48 and 1/2 inches.... "

That's the original report.
As it comes into the Odd Spot in The Age, it's
Robin Hendrickson and Erik Brandsness of Reno, Nevada, knew their pet cat, Stewie, was big but were surprised to find the five-year-old Maine Coon is a world-beater. Measuring 123.2 centimetres, he is now in the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest domestic cat.

That is, a measurement to the nearest half inch has become a measurement to the nearest tenth of a centimetre, an increase in claimed accuracy of about twelve times. Which is silly, because cat length measurements just aren't that accurate, particularly if your cat doesn't want to be measured, as mine didn't. Was Stewie measured with claws retracted or claws extended?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Retribution

Reading Max Hasting's book on the fall of Japan. Some impresssive statistics.

* For every 4 tons of supplies the Americans delivered to their troops in 1944, the Japanese could manage two pounds.
* The Japanese had as many carrier planes in the Leyte theatre as the Americans had destroyers.

Australians would have surrendered. Quite rightly, of course.

Practically perfect in every way

Hearing that McKillop was to be called St. Mary of the Cross I thought that was odd, that surely that name would have been taken by now: but no, there appear to be comparatively few St. Marys - only nine, with another eight blesseds. When did the name first become popular?

St. Mary
Bl. Mary Bartholomea of Florence
Bl. Mary Angela Truszkowska
Bl. Mary Tokuan & Mary Choun
St. Mary Cleophas
St. Mary Di Rosa
Bl. Mary Guengoro
Bl. Mary MacKillop
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
Bl. Mary Magdalen Kiota
St. Mary Magdalen Postel
St. Mary Magdelene
St. Mary Salome
Bl. Mary Tanaura
St. Mary the Consoler
St. Mary the Slave
Bl. Mary Tokuan & Mary Choun

Oh, of course, they would have been Marias, or Maries - but no:

Bl. Maria Candida of the Eucharist
Bl. Maria Christina Brando
Bl. Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala
Bl. Maria Ludovica de Angelis
Bl. Maria Repetto
Bl. Maria Teresa Ferragud Roig
Bl. Maria Jesus
Bl. Maria Veronica
Bl. Maria Felicidad Masia
St. Maria Crocifissa Di Rosa
St. Maria de Cerevellon
St. Maria Dominic Mazzarello
St. Maria Francesca Gallo
St. Maria Giuseppe Rossello
St. Maria Goretti
Bl. Maria Liberata Pallota
St. Maria Magdalen Dei Pazzi
St. Maria Magdalen of Canossa
St. Maria Michaela Desmaisieres
Bl. Maria Pilar Martinez Garcia & Companions
St. Maria Soledad
Bl. Marie Rivier
St. Marie Claude Brard
St. Marie Croissy
St. Marie Dufour
St. Marie Hanisset
St. Marie Magdalen Desjardin
St. Marie Magdalen Fontaine
St. Marie Magdalen Postel
St. Marie Meunier
Bl. Marie of the Incarnation
Bl. Marie Rose Durocher
St. Marie St. Henry
St. Marie Teresa Couderc
St. Marie Trezelle

Only another 22 saints and 14 blesseds. 31 and 22 in all. I suppose that's fifty. Still less than I would have expected considering that Catholic women have for so many generations been given the name. I would have thought that one in two catholics were women and one in what, twenty of them were called Mary in some form or another; about 2 1/2 percent of all saints should be Maries. With about 10,000 saints in all, that would be 250. They're underrepresented.

Age Bin - Afghanistan

James Brown suggests in The Age that “The Taliban has waged a propaganda war…. Successful spin … has taken a mix of ragtag local fighters, criminal networks, and ideological extremists and linked them to the mythology of the Soviet-destroying mujahideen.”

Oh, come on. The people who puffed a handful of sandaled malcontents into a world-defying juggernaut of global terrorism were George Bush, Tony Blair, and John Howard, and they did this for the obvious reason that in their uninflated state tribesmen alternating seasonally between the hoe and the AK-47 make lousy bogeymen.

Even if you feel that Australia should have a permanent hate on for ragtag local fighters, criminal networks, and ideological extremists it should be noted that we can find them in, inter alia, Serbia, Setzuan, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Syria, and the Solomon Islands, and the only one of those we have any business turning up in is, at a pinch, the Solomons. The Taliban are a nasty lot, but they are not the Devil, and even if they were Australia is not the Archangel Michael.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Headlines that mean different things in Australia and America

BRISBANE STRIKES OUT ON BROADBAND

Is this a great country or what

Age/smh front page....
"The Aussie dollar last night struck a fresh 28-year high of US99.94¢ — by chance, exactly Donald Bradman’s batting average — sparking predictions that it would soon overtake the world’s reserve currency."

For extra points, explain global warming with reference to David Boon's 52.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Case of the Twelve Red-Bearded Dwarves, part 30

The case was held up again after lunch while the twelve red-bearded dwarfs were photographed, some riding the rocking-horse, which they had brought with them, others stroking it, and yet others crawling beneath its mottled belly and crying 'Peep-bo!'

Cocklecarrot: But this horse has no tail. I thought the whole case was about a length of twill to cover the tail ?

First Dwarf; M'worship, it is a guinea-horse.

Second Dwarf: Yes, your grace. If you hold it up by its tail, its head drops off.

Third Dwarf: With a bang, your ludship.

Fourth Dwarf:
We have a bicycle, too. And that has no tail, either.

Fifth Dwarf: It's a guinea-bicycle.

Sixth Dwarf; The handlebars are made of lard, as a precaution.

Cocklecarrot (savagely): Against what?

Chorus of Dwarfs: Burglary, sire.

Cocklecarrot (groaning): What in Heaven's name is all this nonsense about?

Mr. Holley-Gander: I confess, m'lud, the case is developing along unexpected lines.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Antimnemonicism

At the weekend visited the Meccano Club's annual bunfest, hoping to find their model of Babbage's difference engine,

but this was regrettably the first year it was absent, so we know it only by this picture. Still, Rose ran into a long-lost relative, and afterwards we walked over to the Brighton cemetery.

Had a rest at the Public Babies Lawn, covered in little plaques each commemorating from five to ten babies with no first names who died in local hospitals in a given month. With a grave in the centre covered with toys. Briefly contemplated what curse would follow the person who nicked a Matchbox Speed Racer.

Also the grave of Dear Friend of Poet Gordon, next to Poet Gordon (just a pillar, no statue) and the legend "Life is mainly froth and bubble/Two things stand like stone/Kindness in another's trouble/Courage in your own", which could be more widely used.


Also an odd full-size bronze statue, only one in the cemetery, of an eighteen-year-old-boy. Why him, of all the worthies buried there?

The grave of Colonel White, who sent Grandfather over the top at the Nek in 1915;

Charles Bean criticized White for leading the charge instead of remaining to supervise the operation; had he stayed behind he might have lent support to Lieutenant-Colonel N. M. Brazier, the commanding officer of the accompanying 10th Light Horse Regiment, in his appeals to Lieutenant-Colonel John Antill, brigade major of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, to halt the third and fourth waves of the assault.


Quite a nice Egyptian tomb, forgotten the name. Also a snappy black model that I now see is by Burley Griffin.

And lovely couchgrass throughout, in the tiny areas that hadn't been graved out.

How unlike

Chris tipped the home team 60% of the time.


Chris won 1 WHOPPER voucher this year by tipping 8.


Chris finished in the top 4% of all members on footytips.com.au with a rank of 11,743 out of 322,832*.


Chris finished with a total score of 123 and total margin of 836*.


Chris tipped their favourite team Geelong 100% of the time. They won 72% of the time. The rest of footytips.com.au tipped Geelong 88% of the time.


Chris beat Garry Lyon, (Media Personality) by 1 tip. He finished on a score of 122.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Ring Issues

It's been pointed out to me, when speculating as here about what earthly good the One Ring was, that when it goes into the lava there are conequences;
A brief vision he (Sam) had of swirling cloud, and in the midst of it towers and battlements, tall as hills, founded upon a mighty mountain-throne above immeasurable pits; great courts and dungeons, eyeless prisons sheer as cliffs, and gaping gates of steel and adamant: and then all passed. Towers fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they toppled like an overwhelming wave, and its wild crest curled and came foaming down upon the land. And then at last over the miles between there came a rumble, rising to a deafening crash and roar; the earth shook, the plain heaved and cracked, and Orodruin reeled. Fire belched from its riven summit. The skies burst into thunder seared with lightning. Down like lashing whips fell a torrent of black rain. And into the heart of the storm, with a cry that pierced all other sounds, tearing the clouds asunder, the Nazgûl came, shooting like flaming bolts, as caught in the fiery ruin of hill and sky they crackled, withered, and went out.

So apparently Sauron built the towers - and mountains? - with the ring - "Ring, erect me a tower!" and maintained them with the ring, or rather (because Sauron himself hadn't touched the ring for a long while) the ring maintained them. That would certainly be a useful trick, but (a) you could make towers and orcs and engines without the ring, because Saruman did; and (b) you could get new troops and orcs and engines without the ring, because Sauron didn't seem to need them the second time around. The sensible thing would have been for Sauron and his orcs to put up new barracks and live in them rather than taking the measurable risk of inhabiting ring-built towers, battlements, mountain-thrones, pits, courts, dungeons, prisons , and gaping gates that were liable to sudden collapse.
Other points that come up are Who did he keep in the prisons and dungeons? and What happened to them when the walls fell in?
it's not an entirely trivial point, now I come to think of it; it suggests, surely, that there were disagreements under Sauron, which is to say politics, which is to say that if he was entirely evil (and we never do get to hear his side of the story, do we?) then people who opposed him must have had some good in them, which means that the average platoon of orcs must have included at least one sweetie.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

They're nationalising the pubs

I'll be damned. My father was in favour of nationalising the pubs.


Forum Votes For Seating In Hotels
Canberra Times,
Friday, June 18, 1954


A "straw" vote on A.C.T. liquor reform at St. Pauls Anglican Club forum last night voted overwhelmingly for compulsory seating as a condition of the sale of liquor; also improved drinking conditions and extended hours.

The snap vote was suggested unexpectedly at the conclusion of the forum, in which speakers were Mr. A. T. Shakespeare, of the A.C.T. Advisory Council, Mr. F J McCauley, president of the A.C.T. Trades and Labour Council, Mrs. N. Park, representing the National Council of Women, and Mr. A. Borthwick, of the Anglican Club.

All 22 persons who voted favoured a change in the present conditions for drinking.

There was only one dissent to a proposal that liquor be served only where compulsory seating was in force.

Twenty persons, including both men and women, did not favour existing hotel hours, eight favoured extended hours; nine favoured extended hours without increasing trading hours.

Twenty-one voters favoured extended hours without improved drinking conditions.

HUMAN BEHAVIOUR

Leading the discussion, Mr. Shakespeare said the crucial test in a reform was the response it received in terms of human behaviour. The question arose whether liquor reform was wanted or reform of liquor.

He advocated that before liquor itself might be reformed there should be scientific research into alcoholic content which would reveal the facts and be a basis for a standard.

Mr. Shakespeare said liquor reform depended for its efficacy as a reform on the behaviour of the individual. The proper study of Australian behaviour was a subject which had been studiously avoided by institutions of learning.

Until there had been a study of Australian behaviour, every reformer would be groping in the dark in endeavouring to assess the value of any reform, he said.

He did not believe the alteration of trading hours was a reform of any value unless it was accompanied by other needs of greater importance He listed them in order as Liquor content; human behaviour in relation to liquor; conditions that the law prescribed for the control of liquor; and the hours of trading.

NOT ENOUGH HOTELS

The fundamental fact in Canberra was the serious underprovision of hotels. The liquor trade had so far shown lack of interest in providing capital to improve drinking facilities for the public.

Extensions of hours would increase profits without increasing service to the public.

Questions which should be decided by the people were whether they favoured present hotel facilities, and whether they favoured the provision of liquor only to persons seated.

Other reforms in Canberra would be the establishment of community hotels, even if ac- commodation requirements were waived for five years, provided there was silting room and improved drinking facilities.

COMMUNITY VALUE

Mr. F. J. McCauley said reforms must be considered in the light of benefit to the community and not individuals.

He said he did not feel that altering the hours of liquor trading was a reform. The metropolitan Press, as agent of the breweries, had stressed the necessity for longer trading hours, and shed crocodile tears over the "unfortunate" unable to obtain a drink when necessary

'I believe there will never be any worthwhile liquor reform until breweries are nationalised," he said.

"The huge profits of the breweries must be turned to better advantage. Those profits could be used for the development of Australia."

Community hotels had been introduced successfully in other States, and could be used in Canberra. There was room for four - at Ainslie, Deakin-Yarralumla, O'Connor and Narrabun- dah. More hotels were urgently required. On N.S.W figures there should be ten more in Canberra.

He advocated liberalisation of club licences, as they were conducive to a dignified atmosphere in drinking.

Stating he preferred to see standing at bars eliminated, he added that conditions would be more orderly if drinkers queued for their beers. Food should also be provided at reasonable prices.

The question of extended hours warranted an alteration in the hours of trading. He suggested hotels trade from 10 a.m to 2 p.m., from 3.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and from 7.30 to 10 p.m. Con sidoration should be given to employées required to work broken shifts.

AUSTRALIAN OUTLOOK

Mrs. N. Park said the Australian outlook to drink was different from overseas. An Englishman told her, "We drink for pleasure; you Australians drink to get drunk."

Abroad the main function of alcohol was an adjunct to food in gay surroundings, but in Australia the whole subject was out of focus.

The abuse of liquor had resulted in a sinister atmosphere in which children were brought up to regard hotels and wine saloons as 'dens of iniquity." Opaque windows and closed bar doors built up this mystery.

She said drastic reform in the A.C.T. might provide an example for the rest of Australia.

She advocated reduced alcoholic content, longer trading hours, ample seating facilities and attractive surroundings, that light refreshments be available, and at least one beer garden or communal centre be set up in Canberra.

Mrs. Park said liquor reform involved adult education on when to drink, what to drink, and where to drink It.

ATTITUDE TO DRINK

Mr. Borthwick said the problem of liquor reform was one of conscience. Prohibition was not the effective answer in Australia. Longer hours did not necessarily mean more drunkenness.

Hours were less important than the attitude to drink.

The liquor trade in Canberra, as in the rest of Australia, looked to nothing but profit.

'There is no tradition of courtesy or service," he said.

The community hotel suggestion was excellent, but the movement several years ago collapsed through lack of support.

Adoption by the Trades and Labour Council and the A.C.T. Advisory Council might form the nucleus of a movement to make it possible.

The liquor trade had abused its opportunity in Australia, and nationalisation of breweries was not so illogical as it seemed.

"The trade has asked for it," he said.

"Unless profit motives are taken away, I cannot see how reforms can be effected."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 29

The court had to be cleared owing to the roars of ribald laughter which greeted the appearance in the witness-box of the twelve red-bearded dwarfs all in a heap. Their names were read out amid growing uproar. The names appeared to be: Sophus Barkayo-Tong, Amaninter Axling, Farjole Merrybody, Guttergorm Guttergormpton, Badly Oronparser, Churm Rincewind, Cleveland Zackhouse, Molonay Tubilderborst, Edeledel Edel, Scorpion de Rooftrouser, Listenis Younghaupt, Frums Gillygottle.
Cocklecarrot: Are these genuine names?
A Dwarf; No, m'worship.
Cocklecarrot: Then what's your name?
Dwarf: Bogus, m'ludship.
Cocklecarrot: No, your real name.
Dwarf: My real name is Bogus, your excellency.
(At this point the court had to be cleared)

Age bin - War crimes

It is reported in connection with the trial of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan that no Australian soldier has ever been convicted of killing a civilian or a prisoner.

This is quite believable; after all, even when Australia passed a law to punish second world war crimes we restricted its operations to parts of the world where no Australian soldiers had fought. It is, nonetheless, a stain on the nation's character that we have never been prepared to open our eyes to the obvious fact that Australian soldiers are not in comparison with the military of other countries uniquely angelic. In every war we have fought up to the present day some Australian soldiers have on occasion raped and plundered; in most of our wars we have been regarded by our allies as particularly prone to kill our prisoners. In every war to date those Australians who committed war crimes have been shielded by the Anzac myth. If the War Memorial were to institute a gallery showing Diggers beating up wogs in Cairo, machinegunning lifeboats, and conducting pogroms in Palestinian villages (all incidents recorded in our histories) there might be more public recognition that sending men to war is a terrible responsibility not so much because Australians may die as that Australians may kill.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 28

'The time of this court is valuable,' said Cocklecarrot, as four of the dwarfs carried in a large canvas cake, opened it, and released an actress who began a slow dance in the well of the court.
'Valuable to whom?' queried a dwarf.
'To the public,' replied Cockle¬carrot.
'The public,' answered the dwarf, 'would far rather have all this foolery than the usual dull nonsense of cross-examinations and long speeches. See how they are all laughing.'
And, indeed, the packed court was shaking with laughter.
'Take that actress away,' shouted Cocklecarrot, and the girl flinched back in mock alarm. And at that moment paper snow fell from the ceiling, and a dwarf cried, 'Ah, do not turn our little sister out without a roof to her mouth. Have mercy, daddy.'
Cocklecarrot laid his head in his hands and groaned audibly.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No shit, Sherlock?

Furthermore, there was a plot hole in Inception. The hero said it was possible to bury a memory at a lower dream level so that the person whose dream it was would wake up believing it, and he knew because he'd done it. But he hadn't. What he'd done was altered something at the dream level and made the person believe it at that dream level, which is the equivalent of winning an argument on the conscious level - nothing like crossing levels.

Oh, so that was a strain on your credibility?

Not only that, it was a straight steal from an episode of Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.
Which I see has been noticed before....

I preferred Dark City.

Deception

Saw Inception last night. Disappointing on a number of levels. That was the trouble: it had a number of levels, and it was shallow on every one of them.

About the only justifiable complaint, mind, being that there were no real special effect zingers that weren't in the trailer. Everything else could have been predicted.

It was complicated without being complex.

You had dreams within dreams, and every single dream was a version of an inferior James Bond movie. There was almost no dreamstuff, even by Hollywood standards - the only thing out of place was one instance of a freight train coming down the street against the traffic. As to the mysteries of the unconscious, nothing; Freud lived in vain. One mildly discreditable repressed secret, but no monsters from the id, no dimly seen forms in the corner of your eye, no distractions from what was basically a caper movie. I should have gone to the anime festival.

Prominent indigenes

Looking up the Council, for the Order of Australia (the one that does the awards) I see that the NT representative is one Tba Tba. Good, I say, an islander, it's about time that there was indigenous representation..... and I then google him or her to to discover their sex for the gender breakdown table...

To Be Announced. It was the saying it twice that threw me.

Idiot.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Admission against interest

I predicted, I see, that the final votes would fall for Abbott; not so. Which probably means that they'll hold out till July, when the case is altered. Interesting times.

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 27

'The present position,' said Mr. Justice Cocklecarrot, 'would appear to be this: A body of twelve red-bearded dwarfs, in its capacity as a firm of rocking-horse makers, is bringing an action against itself, in its capacity as a hydraulic laundry, alleging that a twill covering for the tail of a rocking-horse was destroyed by the said laundry. But the position is complicated by the fact that the horse in question has no tail. It is, therefore, difficult to see how any case arises. Nor is the matter clarified by regrettable horseplay.'
A Dwarf: Rocking-horseplay, I submit, your reverence.
Cocklecarrot: You will kindly address me properly or not at all.
Dwarf: Not at all what?
Cocklecarrot: What do you mean, 'what'?
Dwarf: No. What do you mean, 'what'?
Cocklecarrot: What I said was - oh, go to the devil!

Irish

OK, there's a movie in this one.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 26

An attempt was made to resume this case on the next day, but since the twelve red-bearded dwarfs are both plaintiffs and defendants, Cocklecarrot was rather at a loss as to how to proceed. He had, however, discovered a precedent in volume XV fn of Blitherstone, the case of a Miss Frack, who brought an action for libel against herself. Miss Frack was a novelist who, to obtain publicity, wrote a novel under the pen-name of Miles Euston, in which she said that Miss Frack, one of the characters, was a thief and a forger. She was awarded damages against herself, and was in the papers for three days, which sent her sales bounding up.
Matters were complicated, however, by the dwarfs entering a plea of Cujusmodo. Nobody had ever heard of this plea, until one of the counsel unearthed it in the third year of the reign of Henry II. There the matter rests at present.

Age bin - Fossils

As Peter Costello points out, in a hung parliament the power of every single parliamentarian goes up. One further consequence of this is that we are likely to see an unusual rigidity in party nominations. Any member who got knocked out in the next round of preselections would have every possible motive to do a Craig Langdon and walk out in a huff, and party leaders will heavy all concerned to make sure that doesn't happen. If you were thinking of challenging a sitting member next time round, forget it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

When this lousy war is over

Reading the latest range of war histories it's rather unsettling to realise that in at least one way almost everything was more or less completely irrelevant. If Stalingrad had been lost, if Alamein had gone the other way, if D-Day had been thrown back into the Channel, the outcome of the war would have been the same. Once America got the bomb nothing else would have mattered. More odd, even, than that; if every battle had been avoided - if no allied soldiers had been put in harm's way - the outcome would have been the same. Every single skirmish, all that heroism, all that cowardice, was pointless.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stand up for whatever it is

Arguments that the independents should vote with the Liberals because that's what their constitutents would have voted for do bring out in me a desire to quote at length from Burke's address to the electors of Bristol....

3 Nov. 1774,Works 1:446--48

I am sorry I cannot conclude without saying a word on a topic touched upon by my worthy colleague. I wish that topic had been passed by at a time when I have so little leisure to discuss it. But since he has thought proper to throw it out, I owe you a clear explanation of my poor sentiments on that subject.

He tells you that "the topic of instructions has occasioned much altercation and uneasiness in this city;" and he expresses himself (if I understand him rightly) in favour of the coercive authority of such instructions.

Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

My worthy colleague says, his will ought to be subservient to yours. If that be all, the thing is innocent. If government were a matter of will upon any side, yours, without question, ought to be superior. But government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and what sort of reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion; in which one set of men deliberate, and another decide; and where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments?

To deliver an opinion, is the right of all men; that of constituents is a weighty and respectable opinion, which a representative ought always to rejoice to hear; and which he ought always most seriously to consider. But authoritative instructions; mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and conscience,--these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, and which arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole order and tenor of our constitution.

Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament. If the local constituent should have an interest, or should form an hasty opinion, evidently opposite to the real good of the rest of the community, the member for that place ought to be as far, as any other, from any endeavour to give it effect. I beg pardon for saying so much on this subject. I have been unwillingly drawn into it; but I shall ever use a respectful frankness of communication with you. Your faithful friend, your devoted servant, I shall be to the end of my life: a flatterer you do not wish for.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Shambolicracy

The Australian election has brought about something of a train wreck. If I had to make a prediction, it would be that Abbot would get in, struggle on for a couple of years, hold an early election on the grounds that the Greens were impeding his ability to govern, and in the end stay in for about eight years and three elections - but that's not necessarily the important outcome.
What we can say with confidence is that Tony Abbott has been more successful than anybody thought possible, and has done it on the basis of negative three-word slogans - 'Stop the boats', 'Big new tax', that sort of thing. Which means that it's going to be almost impossible, for the next three terms, for any major party to bring up any policy that can't be expressed in those terms (and that can't be attacked in those terms). Which means that nothing significant or important can be contemplated. Which might be OK if we weren't facing several existential crises.

The only conceivable plus is that the NSW losses, and the wipeout coming when the state next goes to the polls, will surely have to remove the NSW right from any position of influence in the Labor party for a generation. No, no; it doesn't seem to work that way, does it? Every disaster that they're responsible for only seems to cement them and their ideas more securely into the leadership. Now the argument will be that we need to win back NSW, and we can only do that by following to the letter the prescriptions of the people who know most about NSW - ignoring the obvious fact that they have been proven to be utterly out of touch in every aspect.

I myself, I suppose, should be cautious about pissing off one of my two followers, John being a committed NSW Rightist. What is the NSWR official excuse? That the government was too left, I suppose. It always is.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Every time I try to get out they drag me back in

The 20-year-old father of the grandson of Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate in the 2008 US election, will run for mayor in his hometown as part of a reality TV show, his manager, Tank Jones, said.

Wasilla, population 10,250, is where Mrs Palin, who is widely touted as a potential candidate for the Republican presidential ticket in 2012, got her start in politics, moving up from city council to mayor before winning election as Alaska's governor in 2006.


Mr Jones said Mr Johnston, whose career thus far has included stints in the Alaskan oil fields and posing nude in Playgirl, is serious about politics.

"Let me put it to you like this: If you live in a town and things are happening in that town, and you're displeased with it, what do you do? You try to change those things," Mr Jones said.

He declined to give specifics on the changes planned by Mr Johnston, a high school dropout who was introduced to the American public as a bewildered 18-year-old at the Republican convention two years ago, when Mrs Palin made a dazzling entrance on to the political stage.

Bristol Palin, 19, broke off her second engagement with Mr Johnston earlier this month, claiming he was obsessed with the limelight.

Asked whether he believed people would take Mr Johnston's run for office seriously, Mr Jones said: "People questioned Jesus Christ, so I definitely don't care about these mere mortals questioning Levi Johnston."

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 25

The second day of the hearing of the Rocking-Horse case quickly produced a sensation. Cocklecarrot asked Mr. Honey-Gander, counsel for the defendants, what the twelve red-bearded dwarfs could possibly have to do with the Broxholm Hydraulic Laundries, and how they came into the case. Mr. Honey-Gander made the sensational reply, 'M'lud, I understand that these gentlemen have a controlling interest in these laundries. In fact, they are Broxholm Hydraulic Laundries.'
Cocklecarrot: Then why do they call themselves 'Others'?
Mr. Honey-Gander: I believe, m'Iud, that there are others connected with the laundries.
Cocklecarrot: Red-bearded dwarfs, too, I will wager.
Mr. Honey-Gander: So I understand, m'Iud.
Cocklecarrot: How many?
Mr. Honey-Gander: Forty-one, m'lud.
Cocklecarrot: Merciful heavens! Call Miss Staggage.
Mr. Honey-Gander: Your name is Elvira Staggage?
Miss Staggage: No, sir. It is Amy Clowte.
Mr. Honey-Gander: But-
Miss Staggage: Elvira Staggage is my trade name.
Mr. Honey-Gander: I see. You own a rocking-horse factory?
Miss Staggage: No, sir. I act for the real owners.
Mr. Honey-Gander: And who are they?
Miss Staggage: A number of red-bearded dwarfs, sir. I see them over there.
(Sensation in court.)
Cocklecarrot: This is quite intolerable. These dwarfs are plaintiffs and defendants in the same case. The thing is without precedent. What on earth are they up to, suing themselves?
Mr. Poss (for the plaintiff): They maintain, m'Iud, that in their capacity as hydraulic launderers they have swindled themselves in their capacity as rocking-horse manufacturers.
Cocklecarrot: This is really insane. I must adjourn the case for a day or two. It is without precedent, I repeat.

Elephants and mice

The people who say that even if global warming is bad Australia shouldn't bother about doing anything much to prevent it because we're such a small nation that our contribution is almost irrelevant compared to that of America, China, and India have surely got it arse backwards. If the proposition is correct, and Australia's climate depends on what the big boys do, it's surely of vital and central importance that we persuade the big boys to do the right thing; and if, as would seem likely, just about our only tool in this is PR (we can't realistically bribe them, and we certainly can't threaten them) then setting a good example is positively an existential necessity. And not just a bare pass, either - if we're doing it for show, it has to be showy; we can only signal the intensity of our our belief (which is all we have to use as a lever) by going all in.

Oh well. I suppose the world will see out my lifetime.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The roots of POP

OK; On the wall in Richard Hamilton's seminal "Just What Is It That Makes Today's Home So Different, So Appealing? " --



isn't that picture on the wall a Jack Kirby?
But Young Romance: is that really Kirby's thing? Nobody getting punched? No soundeffects? No cringeworthy literal names?

Let's check this.

Yes, he did:Wikipedia -
Launched with a September 1947 cover date, the Prize Comics title Young Romance signaled its distinction from traditional superhero and genre comics with a cover banner stating the series was "designed for the more adult readers of comics". Told from a first person perspective, underlining its claim to be recounting "true" stories, the title was an instant success, "bec[oming] Jack and Joe's biggest hit in years" and selling "millions of copies"[6] and a staggering 92% of its print run.[5] Crestwood increased the print run by the third issue to triple the initial numbers, and well as upgrade the title from bimonthly to monthly through issues #13-72 (Sept. 1949 - Aug. 1954)...... Despite the glut of titles, the Simon and Kirby Romance titles "continued to sell five million" a month, allowing the pair "to earn more than enough to buy their own homes".

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fainting in Coils

Seeing the headline
PAKISTAN REELING IN TEST AT LORDS
I took it to mean that Pakistan had caught the fish and was reeling it in: but no, what they mean is
IN TEST AT LORDS, PAKISTAN REELING
It's a great language.
Actually, at 4 for 216 a Pakistan win might be out of reach but a draw seems within prospect.

Like Summer Bay, only colder



Credit where credit is due; Sarah's comment on Bristol's return to Levi was one of the finest shankings I've seen for a while.
Bristol, at 19, is now a young adult. As parents we obviously want what is best for our children, but Bristol is ultimately in charge of determining what is best for her and her beautiful son.

Bristol believes in redemption and forgiveness to a degree most of us struggle to put in practice in our daily lives.

We pray that, as a couple, Bristol and Levi’s relationship matures into one that will allow Tripp to grow up graced with two loving parents in his life”

- The Palin Family

“Bristol believes in redemption and forgiveness to a degree most of us struggle to put in practice in our daily lives.” Even for Alaska, that's chilly.

And just to confirm that I have no standards, here's the official blog of Levi's sister.

Age Bin - Melbourne Storm

If a salary cap for footballers is such a moral imperative, why don't we apply the principle where it'd do most good? Let's have a salary cap for mining magnates, Macquarie executives, and hedge fund executives. I'd pay to see that.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bellocesque

One of the side effects of being unable to pass a hardware store is that you end up with a lot of tools, especially patent spanners, and one of the consequences of having lots of spiffy patent spanners is that you feel obliged to do small repair jobs rather than hiring plumbers. Like changing a washer. Which I did on Sunday: turn off water, hot water, etc. Use large shifting spanner (none of the patent spanners fitted, pity) to whip the tap out, lots of water everywhere, change washer and whatever that other bit is, replace all, retighten (overtighten, but still). Warm sense of achievement. Which is a good thing, because otherwise warmth seems to be rather lacking. Turn on water. Turn on hot water. No hot water. What I had turned off not the water but the gas, so need to relight gas.
Ah. Pilot light has rusted out. Have to call plumber. Heater evidently semi-deceased, repairs cost more than half replacement, so have to get new one, at cost of $1,500.
That'll teach me to go around repairing washers.

Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light
Himself. It struck him dead: And serve him right!
It is the business of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan.
Hilaire Belloc.


"Wealthy" may be flattering me rather. Nonetheless.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Me, defending Mohammed? What is the world coming to?

Happening across an attack on muslims on a wingnut blog, noticed this:
Paul - You want Curry to cite specifics? Very easy to find:

"The Children of Israel

1. [17.64] And beguile whomsoever of them you can with your voice, and collect against them your forces riding and on foot, and share with them in wealth and children, and hold out promises to them; and the Shaitan makes not promises to them but to deceive:"

and just had to check (you wouldn't understand, it's an OCD thing) -
Barbara, thanks for giving the citation; but looking it up, I can't help feeling you've misunderstood it. Yes, that's the line - but it's addressed not to Moslems but to Satan.
[17:61] When we said to the angels, "Fall prostrate before Adam," they fell prostrate, except Satan. He said, "Shall I prostrate to one You created from mud?"

[17:62] He [Satan] said, "Since You have honored him over me, if You respite me till the Day of Resurrection, I will possess all his descendants, except a few."

[17:63] He [Allah] said, "Then go; you and those who follow you will end up in Hell as your requital; an equitable requital.

[17:64] "You [Satan] may entice them with your voice, and mobilize all your forces and all your men against them, and share in their money and children, and promise them. Anything the devil promises is no more than an illusion.

[17:65] "As for My servants, you have no power over them." Your Lord suffices as an advocate.
http://www.submission.org/suras/sura17.html

Nothing to do with commandments to the faithful.
As I say, though, thanks for giving the references - it's the only honest way to discuss these things, and so many people don't. I appreciate it.


Can't say it contributed much to developing an atmosphere of civility, tho.
I think the only good muslin is a dead one.

I HAVE A WAY TO STOP THE MUSLIMS,,,ONE SHOT AT A TIME...BUT WITH OLBUMMER IN OFFICE HE AND HIS DUMB ASS PARTNERS IN CRIME WOULD STOP ME AND ANYBODY WHO TRYS TO STOP OR RID THE PLANET OF MOSLIMS....

Muslim's are animals, NOT human beings. They are focused on destroying the fabric of Christianity and (what's left of it under the liberals on capital hill) the values of the United States. They must be hunted down relentlessly and their businesses and families destroyed. Just as the United States did to the Japanese in our country during WWII, they must be rounded up and put into compounds. Unlike WWII, they must eventually be disposed of. They are a plague and must be eradicated.

I think people should be forbidden to shoot anybody they can't spell.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Shakspur and Pope and Bentley

Our friend John Frank, silvermith, plumber, and musician, has died. A pleasant wake at which I remind myself to catch up with all the friends I haven't seen for ages, just in case they die suddenly, and borrow a 1732 printing of volume 4 of Bentley's edition of the Works, late from the library, according to the bookplate, of William O'Brijen (definitely sic), Earl of Inchquin, &c.
Housman, I recollect, was dismissive of Bentley's work on the English classics, as opposed to the Latin and Greek; too ready to cut through difficulties by substituting his own words, and I see by comparison with my Penguin that the bulk of his conjectures have been discarded.
He won, however, on this one, involving one of Shakes' best lines, something where Pope's edition, he being an Augustan, missed the point entirely. Falstaff's death -
Quick: He made a finer end, and went away, an it had been any christon child; a' parted even just between twelve and one, even at the turning of the tide; for after I saw him fumble with the sheets, and play with flowers, and smile upon his finger's end, I knew there was but one way; for his nose was sharp as a pen, and a babled of green fields.
Note; His nose was as sharp as a pen, and a Table of green fields; so has the first Folio. Mr. Pope has observed that these words, and a Table of green fields, are not in the old 4to's. This nonsense, continues he, got into all the following Editions by a pleasant Mistake of the Stage-Editors, who printed from the common peacemeal-written Parts in the Play-house. A table was here directed to be brought in (it being a scene in a tavern where they drink at parting) and this direction crept into the text from the margin. Greenfield was the name of the Property-man in that time who furnish'd Implements, &c, for the Actors. A Table of Greenfield's.

Bentley, to his credit, dismisses this- and is so satisfied with dissing Pope that he takes almost a page of small type to do it. Great fun.
And I bet Falstaff's friends wished they'd seen more of him while he was alive, too. We hadn't really caught up with John for several actual decades.

Wetminster

Rudd in his pre-vote speech said several times "I have been elected prime minister by the people of Australia."
No, of course, he hadn't: that's not the way the Westminster system works. He'd been elected by his electorate to be an MP, and he was elected by his party to be party leader, and he'd been appointed by the monarch to be PM. Obama was elected as leader by the people, but that doesn't happen in parliamentary systems.
When Larvatus Prodeo complains "Much as those attached to the verities of the Westminster system might protest otherwise, it’s difficult for many to come to terms with the fact that an elected PM has been torn down" he's getting it out of kilter. The Australian system has certainly developed into something where the PM has something of an independent power base by virtue of election, but we've just been reminded of how little this is reflected in the actual rules.

Anyone for Gibbon?

Churls gone Wild says
Australia has a new monarch, whose favourite non-fiction book is – so she says – Thomas Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree.

Say what you will about past PMs, but they at least would have known how to feign good taste and aesthetic judgement, when they did not actually have it. But, where once they might have read Cicero or Gibbon, nowadays state elites choose the verbal swagger of late-imperial bozo journalism. And every elite gets the culture it deserves. Friedman’s combination of schmaltz and bombast is a perfect fit for today’s international lawlessness, repeal of constitutional rights, and cabinet supremacy over parliament. This is the rule of a parasitic social layer.

Of course, in every society, rule is based not on merit or learning but on money (what Adam Smith called “the power to command labour”) and force. But whereas, say, the senatorial elite of 5th- and 19th-century Europe were also men of letters, and in other times and places they were fierce men of arms, it’s no accident that today has called forth this crop of bumptious philistines, no longer concerned to present themselves as “the best part of the human race”.

Obviously overstated, in that no PM since Menzies would have quoted Cicero, still less read him, and not that many before; Hughes, Scullin, Curtin, Lyons, Page, Fadden, none of them Gibbon men. But still, a liking for Friedman is ceetainly a black mark, to go with others.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back in the day

That Abbot line about how winning the election would be a famous victory; where did that come from?
Ah, I thought so;

After Blenheim
Robert Southey

IT was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar's work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun;
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.

She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round,
Which he beside the rivulet
In playing there had found:
He came to ask what he had found
That was so large and smooth and round.

Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
Who stood expectant by;
And then the old man shook his head,
And with a natural sigh—
"'Tis some poor fellow's skull," said he,
"Who fell in the great victory.

"I find them in the garden,
For there's many here about;
And often when I go to plough
The ploughshare turns them out.
For many thousand men," said he,
"Were slain in that great victory."

"Now tell us what 'twas all about,"
Young Peterkin he cries;
And little Wilhelmine looks up
With wonder-waiting eyes;
"Now tell us all about the war,
And what they fought each other for."

"It was the English," Kaspar cried,
"Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other
I could not well make out.
But everybody said," quoth he,
"That 'twas a famous victory.

"My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream hard by;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
And he was forced to fly:
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.

"With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then
And newborn baby died:
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.

"They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won,
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.

"Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won,
And our good Prince Eugene"—
"Why 'twas a very wicked thing!"
Said little Welhelmine;
"Nay—nay, my little girl," quoth he,
"It was a famous victory.

"And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win"—
"But what good came of it at last?"
Quoth little Peterkin.
"Why that I cannot tell," said he,
"But 'twas a famous victory."

Age Bin - Afghanistan

The trouble with the Afghanistan conflict is that nobody knows who they’re fighting. The Americans are shooting at the insurgents in the belief that they’re proxies for Al-Quaeda and Bin Laden, when in fact the main insurgent support base is the Pakistani Secret Service. The Pakistani Secret Service is fighting the Americans in the belief that they’re proxies for the Indian government, when in fact the main American support base is the National Rifle Association back home. The only people who can identify precisely who they’re fighting are the insurgents, who shoot at any foreigner who swaggers into their village carrying a gun and tells them what to do.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 23

Cocklecarrot: Having regard to the curious nature of this case, I think there should be an appeal under article 6 of the Statute of Giminy and Bocage.
Mr. Pass: Under Statute Law, m'lud, refraction must be proven.
Cocklecarrot: Aye, an' it be not proven, there is always the right of multiple cozenage.
Mr. Honey-Gander: Ultra vires?
Cocklecarrot: Of course. Sine die. Tutamen being implicit, with or without barratry, responderia and plonth, except in municipal law.
Mr. Pass: And wivenage, in lieu of direct mandibility?
Cocklecarrot: Not concurrently with external vapimenta. Merely in plenary copyhold.
Mr. Honey-Gander: M'lud, a tort being the source of a private right of action, in common law, as distinct from equity, matrimonial, Admiralty, agricultural or piscatorial jurisdiction, alterum non laedere, I suggest that classification, per se, under the Employers' Liability Act of 1897, as in Wivenhoe v. Spott (1903 A.C. 274) becomes a matter of malicious nuisance, sic utere tuo ut alienum laedas, in which case follopy is self-evident. For instance, a turtle's egg in the Galapagos Islands--
Cocklecarrot: Quite, quite, Mr. Honey-Gander. Let someone else develop the thing for a bit now. Now, my office being jus dicere, if not jus dare (see Hopkins v. Tollemache), it would be some considerable advantage to me to know what this case is about. Nobody, so far, has thought of mentioning such a thing.
Mr. Honey-Gander: M'lud, we have first to decide whether common usage or commercial usage is the more' convenient instrument for developing and expanding a statute law.
Cocklecarrot: I don't see why we have to go into that now.
Mr. Poss: M'lud, if a contract is unenforceable, as in Miss Fancy Fimple v. The Gaiety Theatre, Buttery-on-the-Vile, then, and not till then, the interchangeable nature of judicial procedure becomes, morally speaking, paramount. Now by the Bills of Exchange Act (1876) twill was included in the category of perishable goods. But if perishable goods are used to wrap the tails of rocking-horses they become, by mansuetude, imperishable, because the tail of a rocking-horse, of which the wrapping is an integral part, is a structure and not a moving fixture.
Cocklecarrot: How can a thing be both perishable and imperishable?
Mr. Poss: Only the Law can tell us that, m'lud.

Medals

Australian medals are simply not terribly glorious.
Some are occupational, which is fine -
*Australian Police Medal
*Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM)
*Ambulance Service Medal (ASM)
*Emergency Services Medal (ESM)

but the others, given the shifts on meaning over time, are just embarrassing.
*Commendation for Gallantry

sounds as if it's given for laying down cloaks over puddles;
*Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) and
*Commendation for Distinguished Service (14KB)

sounds as if they're faintly greying around the temples, while
*Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) (34KB)
*Conspicuous Service Cross and Bar (CSC and Bar) (10KB)

and
*Conspicuous Service Medal (CSM) (32KB)

sound - and this could,I suppose, simply be unexpected frankness - as if they're given to people who hang around headquarters catching the general's eye while the true heroes unobtrusively hack it out with the enemy on night patrol, unseen and unrewarded.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Carl Williams the Knife

A performance of the Threepenny Opera at the Malthouse. Music fine, but the production and translation had problems.
The updating to modern Melbourne was patchy - the coronation procession, for example, stood out as a difficulty...and
the accents weren't Melbourne accents, if that was what they were trying for, but
the accents were heavy and caricatured, funny voices, which were difficult to sing in and detracted from the effects of the songs, which really need to be played much more straight, to really channel the potency of cheap music in the way it was written, and
as part of the updating,they felt they had to stir the jaded palates of today by inserting new and more terrible crimes for Mac the knife - which was a total misconception, because in the original Mac was just a cheap pimp; the song isn't reporting, its's romancing, it's PR. The true situation is covered in some detail in The Threepenny Novel, which I haven't read for years but which I would expect a translator to consult (and I can remember from it that if you're buying a pub it's a bad sign if ait brings in more during the week than during the weekend: it implies that there's building work nearby, and when it moves on the take will drop abruptly). In this production Mac is Eddie Perfect, played as a most unBrechtian star. Through he is given a less crippling accent than most of the others - but only Jenny is allowed to just sing.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Kipling

"What do you think of Kipling?"

"I don't know, you naughty boy, I've never kippled."

As the old (early 1900s? A best-selling Donald McGill postcard, at any rate) joke has it.

Ah, but I have kippled: here's an updating of Arithmetic on the Frontier.

Economics on the Frontier

A great and glorious thing it is
To learn, for fifteen years or so,
The Lord knows what of that and this,
To make us fit to face the foe--
The flying bullet down the Pass,
That whistles clear "All flesh is grass."

Ten thousand bucks per annum spent
To build an educated man
Who goes with soldierly intent
To fight a war in Uruzgan,
Where Talibs think rewards in heaven
Await the stars of 9/11.

An active service situation ---
A ground patrol just moving off--
Ninety grand of education
Dropped by an old Kalashnikov-
Shot like a spotlit kangaroo
Despite that quick course in Pashtu.

No proposition Euclid wrote,
No formulae the textbooks know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar's downward blow.
Strike hard who cares--shoot straight who can--
The odds are on the cheaper man.

One plastic bag of poppy grout
Will pay for all madrasah fees
Of any lad from Tarin Kowt
Who never learned his ABCs
But being blessed with perfect sight
Picks off our Diggers left and right.

With home-bred hordes the hillsides boil,
The big planes bring us one by one,
At vast expense of time and toil,
To slay jihadis where they run,
Although insurgents are, I fear
As cheap--alas! as we are dear.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Grounds for a rethink

Ross Douhat, NYT rightwing columnist and about the only man alive with a beard as unsuccessful as mine, agrees with my Crusader kingdoms comparison from an earlier post.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Why Rudd is failing

From Dsquared:
Francois Mitterrand will always be a hero of mine despite his manifold failings, for his answer to an interviewer who once asked him what quality was necessary for success in politics. He considered the question carefully before answering "Bleakness of the soul".

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 22

It was learned late last night that the case of Miss Ruby Staggage v. Broxholm Hydraulic Laundries and Others will come up shortly for hearing before Mr. Justice Cocklecarrot. Miss Staggage is said to be the trade name of a firm of rocking-horse makers, who are suing the B. H. Laundries for the complete ruination of sixteen yards of washable twill used in making coverings for the tails of the horses. Pending dead-freight, demurrage, charter-party, copyhold, and aznalworratry, Mr. Chowdersleigh Poss will appear for the plaintiff, and Mr. Charles Honey-Gander for the defendants. The case will be heard in court number 19 of the Probate, Agriculture and Fisheries Division. Miss Boubou Flaring, the famous actress, will be on the jury, and is asked not to start the autograph business while the case is being heard.

Condor-eyed

Hurrying up the hill to the train yesterday I heard a car hoot at me. I turned - a friend offering a lift? - to see a car stopped in the street, the driver's hand pointing urgently behind me. I turned back to see that my new warm fully-lined woolly hat had fallen from my bag... I walked back and picked it up while the driver proceeded on his way.
I was and am impressed by the combination of immensely wide-ranging visual attention and unusual public spirit.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Designer drugs

When it comes to illegal drugs we are like Macaulay's puritans, who objected to bearbaiting not because of the pain it caused to the bear but because of the pleasure it gave the spectators. If we were worried about the harm caused by drugs, we would put the CSIRO to devising new drugs that did not have these unpleasant effects; but we do not.

Decrepitudinousity

At The Habit of Art, a film of a UK National Theatre production, Alan Bennett play about Auden and Britten, couldn't help noticing that Auden is portrayed as falling apart in every sphere, a lumbering wreck degenerating into incoherence, at the age of approximately me. Portrayed by Richard Griffith, who does look the part after a fashion, and is also about my age. Was to have been done by Michael Gambon, ditto (well, slightly older, him).
See ourselves as others see us.
And then a telemovie The Gathering Storm about Churchill in 1934-39, looking similarly ancient at a similar age - though he is admittedly played by Albert Finney, who's 13 years older than me and has earned his wrinkles.

True, perhaps, that in previous times people got older younger, not only died sooner but aged sooner, but nonetheless.

Tick tock.

Another mark, that, of age and irrelevance; many people won't remember clocks that ticked.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 21

The following letter speaks for itself:-
Dear Sir,
As you are aware, I recently played a small but not unsensational part in the Dwarf Case. I flatter myself that I conducted myself more as an ardent supporter of a strong Navy than as a witness for or against anything in particular. I now learn that the case is to be tried again, owing to some technical flapdoodle or other. May I take this opportunity of stating as publicly as possible that, if I am called again, I shall to the best of my ability once more defend the Navy? What these dwarfs did or did not do is no affair of mine. To-day we are concerned with more important matters. For there can be no safeguard for the peace of Europe until our British-built warships lie keel to keel across every knot of the seven seas, and until every port of the habitable globe harbours a British submarine.
Yours faithfully,
Ewart Hodgson (Rear-Adml.)

Autres temps

I realise that I have no idea what small boys play these days. Cops and robbers? Cowboys and indians? Or (as I certainly never see any children running around and falling over or arguing about whether they got you or not, and I don't hear pchow pchow noises) whether they play at all, except on xboxes. As a card-carrying baby boomer we grew up surrounded by other children in every house in every street, enough to form gangs and countergangs at a moment's notice, with no parental oversight, and the rough theatre of continuous invention and running negotiation - "I want to be the heroic dog that dies saving somebody" - was omnipresent.
I can remember playing Warner Brothers cartoons - "and then I run over the edge of the cliff, bzazz bzazz, and woowah, I run back and then pchunck, an anvil falls on you -" but that might have been deviant.
I must ask my nephews when I next see them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Invulerability comparatively cheap

There's now a store over the other side of Spencer St, next to the pizza place, that sells Titanium e-water to "increase blood flow and realign the body's bioelectric currents". If you use it (externally) before playing sport, "it can prevent you from getting hurt".
I may finally decide to take up kickboxing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Couldn't resist



Can I commission one of her as Silk Spectre?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Which I would have thought was the definition of 'grey', but there you are.

What colour is puke?

Between black and grey, evidently.

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 20

Sunlight streaming through a water-bottle and glass on the judge's desk set a light to papers.
(News item)

Mr. Justice Cocklecarrot, informed of this accident, saw an excellent way to deal with the case. He cunningly set alight to all the papers relevant to the case - if anything can be called relevant to such a case - by manipulating the water-bottle and the glass. He then fed the flames with his wig and various bits of wood which he kept in his pocket. Within an hour the court was burnt down.

Unlucky bastards, part 223 of a series

On December 3, 1862, David C. McDonald, a discharged Union soldier from Ohio, was indicted by the Breckinridge Circuit Court for "Negro Stealing." Sentenced to seventeen years at hard labor, McDonald was still in confinement five years after the close of the Civil War[emphasis added]. The Cincinnati Commercial learned of his plight and launched a campaign to secure his release.

On April 7, 1870, while African-Americans across the land were celebrating the passage of the 15th Amendment, McDonald was pardoned by Governor John W. Stevenson. Generally, entries of this type in a Governor's executive journal consisted of one or two brief lines. Such was not the case in this instance. After referring to McDonald's date of conviction, the entry read:

Since that time the Negroes have all been emancipated, Slavery no longer exists any where in the Union, the negroes have been even invested with the electoral franchise, and as they are now free to go wheresoever they may choose, it would appear somewhat singular to see a man imprisoned for seventeen long years for attempting to take one negro from his master when the government has taken & freed them all since the conviction of McDonald took place.

In a brief reference to the event, the Louisville Courier-Journal observed on April 11 "This may be set down as the last of the immediate consequences of slavery in Kentucky."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Missed opportunity

Actually, one can just see Crowe in this:
DENNIS: Anarcho-syndicalism is a way of preserving freedom.
WOMAN: Oh, Dennis, forget about freedom. Now I've dropped my mud.

You, Sir, Are No Ingmar Bergman

Saw Robin Hood, as ever mourning the fact that people who read history shouldn't go to historical epics.
We can't help nitpicking - how come Cate was able to string a longbow effortlessly while walking, how come people were running swords through knights in chain mail, how come Robin was able to emerge from underwater and shoot the villain with a wet bowstring?
We can't accept the plot givens - that a plebian could in any age in England pass as an aristocrat without any problems with accent or manners...
We can't forget the elephant in the room - King Richard and King Jean shouldn't have been speaking English being fucking Normans
All these are problems that are only brought up by an entirely and admittedly misguided belief that filmmakers are or should be concerned with naive realism.
In this instance, to be sure, the vibe was to appear cynical, debunking, and realistic, but that was of course an artistic effect, not a legal commitment. And the effect was largely to throw up surely unintended echoes of the opening scene of MP and the Holy Grail....
WOMAN: Dennis, there's some lovely filth down here. Oh -- how d'you do?
ARTHUR: How do you do, good lady. I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
WOMAN: King of the who?
ARTHUR: The Britons.
WOMAN: Who are the Britons?
ARTHUR: Well, we all are. we're all Britons and I am your king.
WOMAN: I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.
DENNIS: You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship.
A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes--
WOMAN: Oh there you go, bringing class into it again.
DENNIS: That's what it's all about if only people would--
ARTHUR: Please, please good people. I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?
WOMAN: No one live there.
ARTHUR: Then who is your lord?
WOMAN: We don't have a lord.
ARTHUR: What?
DENNIS: I told you. We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.
ARTHUR: Yes.
DENNIS: But all the decision of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting.
ARTHUR: Yes, I see.
DENNIS: By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs,--
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: --but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more--
ARTHUR: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
WOMAN: Order, eh -- who does he think he is?
The basic problem seems to be that Crowe wants it all, over and over - to be shown as a rebel and a commander, a nationalist and a humanitarian, to be both Dennis and Arthur. Which leads to a plot with far more ins and outs than necessary. Typified by
- a scene where the traitor is told off to kill King Richard.
- a sequence where King Richard dies in battle.
- a sequence where the traitor ambushes the convoy and tries to kill King Richard but can't because he's dead.
- a scene where the traitor goes back and tells King Phillip that Richard's dead.
All so Crowe can be commissioned to take Lockley's sword to his father in England, which could have been done in one scene, which practically writes itself -
LOCKSLEY: Ah, I am slain! Robin, take this sword to England and give it to my father.

And I couldn't help noticing that the father concerned was played by Max Von Sydow, who some years ago was in a rather different movie about a knight returning from the crusade. How blind would you have to be to invite a comparison like that?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A little late, perhaps

Locusts have a strategy of appearing in overwhelming numbers so seldom that it isn't worth the while of any other species to produce defences against them that would have to be deployed all the time.
The WWII strategic bombing program produced its major results, it's now thought, not so much by what it actually dropped bombs on but by the diversion of German industry into AA and the diversion of the Luftwaffe to home defence.
Therefore the optimum strategy would have been for the Allied bombers to go out over Germany much more seldom than they did - once a week, perhaps once a month, randomly timed.
If there was an opportunity, they could be used at other times in an infantry support capacity (after D-day, at least), but even if they just sat at home playing cards it should have been a superior strategy; same benefits, fewer costs, and more planes when they did bomb.
Not enough evolutionary biologists in high-ranking military positions. But when is that not true?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

WTF?

I would have thought that this was an uncontested truism. Well, it seems not.

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 19

'I intend,' said Mr. Justice Cocklecarrot, 'to make a supreme and almost despairing attempt to sum up this most curious case. Therefore, if anybody has any questions to ask, let them be asked at once, so that I may be released for my next case, that of Hungarian Lighthouses, Ltd. versus Miss Myra Keekie.
Several Dwarfs: We're in that, too.
Cocklecarrot (with heavy sarcasm): I cannot tell you how delighted I am at the prospect of having you with me again. May I ask how you small gentry come to be involved in such a case?
A Dwarf: We are Miss Myra Keekie. It is we who wrote the famous letter cancelling an order for twelve hundred and thirty lighthouses.
Cocklecarrot: All this seems to be quite clear and straightforward. It looks as though I am in for another month of tomfoolery. Hungarian lighthouses, indeed! Why, Hungary-
Mrs. Renton: May I implore your lordship not to start this case before mine is disposed of?
Cocklecarrot: Oh, certainly, certainly. Now, where were we? Hum. (With sudden anger.) It is these damnable small gentlemen who keep on confusing the issue.

Disturbingly plausible

What Thoreau says.
Although I don’t concur with the esteemed Ayatollah Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, who theorizes that immodest women cause earthquakes, I do firmly believe that earthquakes can be affected by non-geological forces. Specifically, I am a man of two faiths, praying to Jesus on Sunday but bowing before Murphy all week long. I believe in Murphy’s Law as an ironclad law of the universe. And so, last night, I went to the store and stocked up on canned food and first aid kits and bottled water and flashlights and batteries, in the interests of earthquake preparation. I believe that if we are prepared for the worst, Our Murphy will smirk and mock our preparations and ensure that all of the time and money invested in this is ultimately for nothing. Murphy will make the San Andreas fault into the most stable geological formation on earth. So, I encourage everyone to prepare for the worst, and I encourage the police and the fire department and other organizations involved in disaster relief to be vigilant in their training and preparation. I encourage structural engineers to spare no expense in masking the most stable buildings possible. If we all work together, Murphy will ensure that we are wasting our time. If we don’t prepare, Murphy will smite us.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Pedobear with real claws

Another relaunch of Nightmare on Elm Street. No idea what it's like, but the NYT, for example, is reviewing it for plot and script and acting, which is surely bound to misunderstand something that's about archetypes. The original, for example, was successful because it translated adolescent sexuality into horror with a fairly consistent message of if you fuck, you die, Freddy Kruger as an externalised vagina dentata; the second translated that into homosexuality. The issue isn't whether the new one is witty, or whether the CGI is successful, it's whether it has a rigorous iconography.
The other opportunity, though, would be to return Freddy to his own crimes. In the original, remember, Freddy killed teenagers only because they were the children of the parents who'd banded together to kill him and feed him into the furnace; given his druthers, he was a pedophile, preying on small children in playgrounds, whose ghosts appeared from time to time to give eerie warnings. That element was leached out fairly quickly and after about the third it was teenagers all the way down. With pedophilia now at high anxiety status, a slides and jungle gyms Freddy might be due for a comeback.

Nigerian spam reaches Facebook

Larry sent you a message.
Larry Johnson
May 1, 2010 at 4:26pm
Subject: Dear.....Chris Borthwick
Dear.....Chris Borthwick

I have an important message for you concerning the death of Engr.J.P.Borthwick, and the funds he left behind,Contact me at (barrlarry1962@hotmail.com).
I await your urgent response asap.
Regards

Barrister.Larry Johnson
Tele:+228 0789554.

Do thee incompetents still get responses, twenty years later? Presumably at least some do, or the schemes wouldn't keep coming.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Counselling, ptui

A friend tells me that his younger brother had just sent him a long letter. Normally a good thing, but this letter said that the brother's therapist had advised him to confront his siblings and tell them that they'd bullied him as a child, that they hadn't supported him when his father bullied him, and that they'd deserted him when their father died. Leaving the facts of the matter, whatever they are, on one side, I'm struck by
(a) the way in which those who demand that other people understand and admit how they've been damaged by the impact of the behaviour of others never seem prepared to try and understand how the people they're accusing have themselves been shaped by their own traumas; the excuses only seem to flow one way,
and
(b) what utter shits therapists are. How do they think that damaged and vulnerable people's social supports are going to be strengthened by driving away their wider family?

Friday, April 30, 2010

About time too

Hindsight

As a serial pessimist, it's really only fair that I should from time to time own up to spots where the disaster envisaged didn't happen.
Back in 2004 I posted
Friday, October 29, 2004
The start of a long war
I'm shocked and astonished at how little the world seems to fear the blowup in southern Thailand. As someone who can remember how the Sri Lankan war began, this seems to presage a fierce war, and one that will drag in Malaysia, and increase its national touchiness, and lead to worse relations with Singapore, and send ASEAN down in flames, and start another arc of instability between the moslem world and the Chinese hegemony. Shinawath seems to be as clueless as bush, and there really is no good news.

While Thailand does seem quite likely to lurch into disaster any day now, it does seem likely to be a completely different disaster, and I haven't seem any reports from the South for a while. Mind you, the separatists may simply have found it impossible to get the government's attention, it being somewhat distracted. But still.

Schnitzel boot

Let's see if I can contribute to launching what is as far as I can see at this point in time a one-user slang term.
Hannah, from our office:
Oh – schnitzel boot is the term I use to describe the women who are alumni from my school, all dress the same, talk the same, send their kids to the same school, and do lots of pilates – oh and a BMW 4wd is mandatory for entry into the schnitzel boot club.

It's very sayable.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

ODTAA

Last week my Time Machine backup device failed. I went and got a new Time Machine, not bothering to get the old one copied over because, after all, none of the computers it's backing up have gone down.
However, Rose points out that the old TM may still be under warranty, if we could just find the documentation, so I don't unpack the new TM and take the very small risk of carrying on.
Last night my iMac goes down. I now have a choice between
*Getting the old machine repaired at a cost of about 50% of its value
*Getting the data off either the TM or the IM at considerable cost and buying a new Mac at a particularly bad time in the cycle
*Getting the data off either the TM or the IM and using one of the other three house computers while waiting for the new iMac release

Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

And Victoria?

Having been asked where I stand at the State level, I'd have to say that I do believe that governments need a reset button. It's almost independent of whether you approve of their ideology. Past errors accumulate and clog the filter. At some point you need an administration that has a clean slate and isn't committed to every error of the last ten years. Are we at that stage? NSW, for example, is obviously well past it - but is Victoria that bad yet? If the Liberals had any discernable policies about anything other than Laura Norder it would make the decision easier.

Bring back Keating

Bring back Keating.

Mea Maxima Culpa

The worst thing is that if we'd voted for Howard we would have got more progress earlier.
And, again, I have (as with the reversal on asylum seeker policy) have a hard time seeing this as good politics, either.The talk is of 'clearing the decks', but it does look very like "losing", and I'm not sure the electorate really likes that, either.
Removing all the ideological markers and running on being the best administrator would seem a winning strategy if and only if you hadn't experienced all those problems recently trying to organise pissups in breweries and raffle chooks in pubs.

Camelback

OK, Rudd having ditched the last vestige of concern about global warming I no longer have any belief that the Labor party can qualify as the lesser of two evils. I'm off to the Greens, with the LibDem surge in the UK giving me some hope that third parties won't after all be doomed to utter futility for eternity. Pity the Australian Democrats didn't last just that little bit longer.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 18

Next day Mr. Justice Cocklecarrot endeavoured once more to deliver his summing up in this remarkable case. 'What the jury has to decide,' he said, 'is whether Mrs. Tasker deliberately drove those dwarfs into Mrs. Renton's house, or rather into the hall of her house; whether the maid Celestine-
Mrs. Renton: Angelica.
Cocklecarrot: What?
Mrs. Renton: Angelica.
Cocklecarrot: What do you mean, Angelica? Why do you keep on saying Angelica?
Mrs. Renton: It is my maid's name.
Mr. Hermitage: It is her maid's name, m'lud.
Cocklecarrot (angrily, but with a show of patience): All right, then, Angelica. Now-
Mr. Snapdriver: Perhaps there is another maid, called Celestine, m'lud.
Mrs. Renton: No. The other is Minnie. (Roars of laughter.)
Cocklecarrot: There may be forty maids. I am speaking of Angelica. Now what the jury has to decide is whether this maid- er- Min –er-Angel - er- Cel- Whether this maid Celestine-
Mrs. Renton: Angelica.
Cocklecarrot (dropping his head in his hands and speaking wearily): Mrs. Renton, will you please allow me to say what I have to say? The name of the maid is immaterial.
Mr. Snapdriver: But, m'lud, Celestine was on holiday at Bournemouth at the time.
Mr. Hermitage: My learned friend means Eastbourne, m'lud.
Mr. Snapdriver: My learned friend is right. Eastbourne.
Cocklecarrot (satirically): Well, now that this very important matter has been settled, perhaps we can continue, unless someone would like to tell me that Minnie was at Blackpool.
A Dwarf: If it comes to that, I myself have been to Blackpool. (Howls of laughter.)
Cocklecarrot (regarding the dwarf with rage): That is most interesting and most relevant.
(The court rises for lunch)

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