Monday, 29 November 2010

The Two Cultures Revisited

The BBC used to broadcast this (download the lecture, ignore the rest, h/t Leiter) kind of programme  while we were cooking the dinner, or taking a break as the children rested in the afternoon.

I last saw Onora O'Neill in an extraordinarily lovely house in Norfolk when the world was full of hope and we thought that we had won for individualism and democracy and  beauty.  Quite a long time ago.  But she is still as fascinating and as right as she was then.  So when you start the dinner, turn her on.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

A Perfume is for Life as well as just for Christmas

As a very young editor I was changing planes at Frankfurt on my way back from Warsaw and took a moment to buy a bottle of scent (duty was very high in those days).  Except I had no idea what I was looking for and little time.  The commessa looked me over and handed me a   tiny box. "No you can't try it", she said briskly, "Just buy it."  I gave her what felt like an enormous amount of cash and headed for my plane.

This is what I had taken so meekly:

'There are perfume legends, there are perfumer legends, and then there are perfumes that become obsessions. Fracas is all three, which is a hat trick less common that you’d think. Still more extraordinary, Fracas is built on a concept of tuberose, a small white flower (unrelated to rose; the name comes from the Latin word describing the plant’s tuberous root system) that generates an overpowering scent and is notorious among perfumers for being a difficult raw material to master. Which is perhaps why Fracas’s perfumer, Germaine Cellier, managed it.

Born in Bordeaux in 1909, Cellier was a pioneer in every sense: a professional woman, a chemist, an artist working in the olfactory medium, tall, beautiful, abrasive (and possibly lesbian), a brilliant and intellectually voracious friend of Cocteau, a proponent of synthetic raw materials. She was also the creator of a striking style. “She transposed Fauvism and Abstractionism into perfume,” Jeannine Mongin has written. “She created in dissonance.”

And the creations have lasted. During WWII, the designer Robert Piguet asked Cellier for a perfume. She created Bandit for him in 1944. In 1946, she did Coeur Joie for Nina Ricci, and in 1947 the landmark Vent Vert for Balmain. Then Piguet asked her for another scent.

It is possible that the secret of Fracas (1948) is an equilibrium between the power of Cellier’s style and the power of tuberose. Perfumer Aurelien Guichard is the caretaker of the formula, which he calls “incredibly complex.” (Due to bans on various raw materials for toxicology, no mid-century perfume is street legal in its original form, and Guichard is charged with conserving Cellier’s vision while constantly updating it with non-allergenic materials.)

Cellier packed her formula with Indian tuberose absolute, which gives it huge power and “sillage” (the olfactory trail). Like all good perfumers, she was an illusionist. To achieve an even more lifelike, more raw tuberose (this flower smells of armpit, flesh and decay due to heavy molecules called indoles; jasmine is similarly loaded with them), she used an even larger quantity of Tunisian orange blossom absolute, plus some astronomically expensive French jasmine and Italian iris root butter. Add natural violet leaf to give the sweet, heavy scent a refreshingly harsh, wet green aspect, iris for a woody depth, synthetic civet (the smell of unwashed construction worker) for power, the synthetics C18 for an unctuous, milky, soft tropical quality and methyl anthranilate for fizz. The result is a signature, a persistence on skin, and a diffusion that are – all three – astonishing.'

Then for some years it became almost unobtainable;  the only source was the Profumeria Inglese in via Tornabuoni and the price became ever more astronomical.  It was a good thing so little was needed because I only ever was given it at Christmas.  In the '90s  it reappeared elsewhere again and became newly fashionable.  But the packaging is black now, not pink, and I'm not sure it's quite what it was.  But perhaps it's me, not quite what I was.

Towards Defeating Progressive Anti-Happiness Agendas

It dawns on me that there has been a huge movement to define desirable things as 'bad' rather than unaffordable.  Killjoys of the left and progressive media have lowered their  aim from houses at the seaside, yachts, jewels, and fine furniture, right down to clothes of such natural materials  as cashmere, silk, linen and even wool or leather.   They've started on scent now.

So just to make it very clear - it being coming-up-to-Christmas-time -  Angels are in profound disagreement with progressivism.  Should a bottle of  Piguet's Fracas, or a spray container of Sander's Sport  cross your mind, or your present-buying line of sight, do not worry that it might be received with misgivings on its correctness.  Either (or both?) would be absolutely correct and received with such happiness that government indexes would probably jump upwards.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Dinner Time

"So he put to me that we are growing too fast - the world that is - that mankind is consuming already one and a half times the renewable resources of the planet;   the current consumption rate  is unsustainable.  We must reduce our growth rate."

"And you said?" I asked over the stuffed artichokes (recipe later).

"You can only deny the benefits of growth to the poor  if you are willing to redistribute wealth and income to them on a truly massive scale.   You can only reduce growth somewhat by redistributing somewhat.  There is no alternative."

"There is," I remarked.  "Up to now the alternative has been that of killing them,  not redistributing to them, growth or no."

"Not on a large enough scale." 

Then he added after a few more chews of artichoke, "To solve the problem, I mean."

Unemployment Figures Do Not Rise

The commander of HMS Astute has been told he can't be left in charge.

 "From  November 26 he was removed from command of HMS Astute. "

Never fear for Commander Coles, though.  "He's going to continue with the Royal Navy. He will be reappointed to another post. It's an internal administrative matter between Commander Coles and his senior officers." 

The spokesman said it was not known what the new post will be.  Well, it's hard to imagine what can be offered to a submarine commander who runs his submarine into a sandbank and, when it floats off with the tide, bumps into a nearby tug sent to pull him off if the tide doesn't rise enough.

 The submarine returned to its base at Faslane on the Clyde three days after the incident.  'Limped home' doesn't begin to cover it.  What were they doing?  Rowing?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Moving Right Along

 Another world - a world that illustrates how much has happened with 'the "trans-valuation of values," ... where the highest...values are debased and the lowest elevated: that is to say where the same, the proper, and the identical cede their privileged place to the other, the alien, and the non-identical.'

But '... the Nietzschean trans-valuation is far from being complete: in its second stage, at the threshold of which we find ourselves today, it will necessitate a de-hierarchization of the already inverted values, so that alterity, too, would lose its newly acquired transcendental status, just as sameness and identity did..'

Living with the 'already inverted values' isn't much fun, I'm glad they're inevitably going to be dealt with by the dialectic.  Though it's a bit worrying contemplating the forces that are needed to move things along - the last inversion took two world wars, two oil shocks and the imposition of authoritarian 'socialist' regimes.  The current one seems to be drawing on American imperial decline.  Gulp. 

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Be Careful What You Ask For

Everyone in Italy has residenza: the listing in some comune or other, that confers access to the society and its social provisions, beginning with a simple identity card that costs 5 euros and has a photograph, a date of birth, a place of residence, and the mayor's signature. Then you are in.  Health services, schooling, social housing, means-tested benefits, access to passports, driving licences, down to car-parking and  driving about in  one's place of residence (don't even think of doing either in restricted zones in other cities) - all this requires residenza.  Angels has it in Florence - well,  there are lots of angels in Florence, makes any Angel feel quite at home -  but there are requirements (other than wings and conformity to anachronistic and monocultural aesthetics).

These requirements, taken together with the longstanding demands of trade unions, and social pressure groups, some of which have been enshrined in law, - a minimum annual income; a stable contract of employment; housing meeting health and safety standards (which include notification of any non-registered persons even temporarily in the dwelling), etc. are being used now to eject economic migrants out of towns and cities in the north of Italy.  If you cannot conform to these requirements and thus  obtain residenza, be listed on the anagrafe, then you are evicted from whatever means and place in which you have established yourself, and even the most basic social claims die - no health service, no schooling. Resisting can lead to the  foglio di via obbligatorio  by which you are sent back where you  came from, but no-one wants to set that in motion, so they just go. 

And why is all this of interest to English readers?  Because much of what Labour and its hinterland wished to establish in our society leads to this: the unforeseen consequences of demands for minimum standards and equality of treatment results in means to judge and then act on outsiders unable to establish their conformity with well-meaning rules.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Mr and Mrs Brown

The shocking account of the behaviour of the man we had to suffer as prime minister so unjustifiably between 2007 and his electoral ousting in 2010 is made worse, if that is possible by the side accounts of the behaviour of his wife.

Constantly publicised, not least by her own efforts, as a non-political wife lovingly ministering to her husband in his unable-to-communicate but such-a-good-and-clever-man-really tragedy, she is revealed as without scruple in her support.  Supportive of anything that  closed down criticism of Brown's obvious unsuitability for office or even attempted to ameliorate it.

The suggestion that she tried to maintain McBride in post even after his plans to tell vicious lies about the present Prime Minister, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and their families, seriously disturbs her self-sought image as merely defender of her family from the fall-out of  a spouse holding high office.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Oil News

The yield is 16 kilos per hundred kilos of olives (the local average is 14).

Acidity is 0.15 (the lower the better, so that's good as up to 1% of acidity is permissible).  This minimum level of acidity is necessary for the oil to taste good.

We're booked for the 29th for the next lot and it's pouring down.  Still, we may be able to keep the appointment if the next week improves to not-raining.

Current price per litre at the mill (in 1 litre bottles) 8 euros a litre.  There is a 6.5 euros a litre offered on ours, loose, so to speak,  at the moment.  I think I'll wait just a bit - there are voices that other producers have had a poorish harvest.  These commodities, very worrying to deal with.

Anyway, it's absolutely delicious, a bright greenery-yallery colour, very slightly peppery, and pleasingly viscous.  Back to the garlicked toast with a sprinkle of salt and the taste of another year's work.

The Last King

A King Charles is so unattractive.  Having read avidly all the Wedding stories - well it started on the Gatwick train when someone left a Mail behind and then I was hooked, she said defensively - it is clear that the Prince of Wales is the real squeezed middle.

His mother is one of the most competent heads of state we could hope for and seems in the best of health, and with a healthy capacity to cut down on minor head-of-state-appearances, which are taken over by her, well,  minors.  There is the statement, too,  that there will be no abdication from duty by the Queen.

To her credit the Prince of Wales's wife has made very plain her preference for a private life as a private wife, rather than a public role; and when the hoary old question of what to call her rolled round once more the feeling of passe and bad news was overwhelming.  Enough!  It was bad that her husband had to be told by his mother to get a divorce and stop abusing his public wife; it is worse that he then refused to recognize that there is no  room for second wives, however obtained, whatever their prior marital statuses (or his),  in the more mystical parts of our Constitution.  He's not Henry VIII, nor does he have Henry's political excuses for mixing personal predilection with marital duties.

There are many voices calling for Elizabeth to be the last hereditary head of our state but they cannot be listened to because of the lack of means within our political institutions to prepare anyone else for that role.  Until the House of Lords is wholly elected by democratic vote, until the second chamber of our legislature becomes a democratically answerable revising chamber and a back-stop restrainer, after the Commons, of the Executive, then we will need at least one more reign while these reforms are made.  We will need a transition monarchy that sees the United Kingdom safely into the 21st century and out of the 17th, while we all take a good look at those we have deemed worthy to be elected to the Lords as senior statesmen, and take a view on who might best protect our fluid and subtle constitution from any Executive taken over by thugs of the left -  or right.

That monarch cannot be Elizabeth, her whole life has been  dedicated to remaining head of state.  Nor can it be Charles - not because of his alleged incompetence, or inappropriate interference in matters beyond a constitutional monarch's role, or his unworldliness, all unjustly substituted for the real criticism: that he wishes to take up his mother's mantle. But it could be William.

William has no decades of commitment by action and by declaration to the continuance of an in-the-end unacceptable hierarchy.  He can make the historic contribution to our democracy's development by facilitating and encouraging our choosing of our head of state and the reforms demanded for their preparation.  Then our monarchy could go out with a bang, not a 'carolingian' whimper.  And without leaving a gaping hole, torn  perhaps violently, in our  constitutional structure that could be filled by charlatans, demagogues, and worse.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Otherness and Us

Not for nothing is Leiter in Angels' blog list.  You may care to chew this over.

Crushed Asians (and Africans)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent his greetings to the organisers of, and participants in,  the 'Women Leaders of Economy and Politics summit', which opened on November 18 in St. Petersburg.

“You represent  non-governmental, academic, business organisations from many countries. And by your impressive achievements prove the important role played by women in today’s world, in economics, politics and culture,” he writes in his message,  published on the Kremlin website.  The President of the Russian Federation  pressed on, candidly, with:

“today we need to do everything possible to improve the social activities of women, open up their creative and intellectual potential. It’s one of the conditions for a stable and efficient development of any state.  ...I hope that your forum will serve further to strengthen the women’ s movement, deepening international economic and humanitarian contacts,”

President Medvedev  wished the Summit fruitful and interesting work.

Gee, thanks.  

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Ninety Billion Pounds

Anthropologists report on peoples who count "One, two, three....a lot".

That's more or less where we are with our Brown-bailed-out-with-taxpayers'-money banks RBS and Lloyds and, doubtless all the de-mutualised building societies he was using for his deluded schemes.   It's not Ireland that's in it up to the neck - it's us.  Greece pales, along with the German and Spanish banks caught there, into insignificance compared with our luck and the Irish.

Multiculturalism and 'all cultures are equal' is all very well.  But the natives of Kirkcaldy are One, two three, a lotters and should never have been accorded any status other than 'primitive'  in the hierarchy of usable ideas and personnel.


Fly to Israel - face the security checks. The staff in Rome Fiumicino are Israelis, not Romans  (judging by their command of Italian) and little surprises them.  Most of the security is question and answer-based: where are you going? why? who suggetsed that? why did they?  how do you know them? how long?  where are you staying? how did you arrange that? .....

It all boils down to "Who you? Who with? Why you?"

Mr HG was his courteous, long-suffering traveler, patient, self: after all he's been up against a wall at gunpoint in some countries (machine guns in Zambia), stranded in Chop with the Soviets saying 'Leave!" and the bordering countries saying" It's Friday night, We're shut!"  The poor chap has suffered travelling with Angels for years and years  - "What do you mean it's Turkish?  All right, a hole in the floor with footprints, but is there loo paper?   But he cracked in Rome.

"Why me?  Why have they invited me?  Pause, "Because I'm famous, famous for this sort of thing."

Collapse of stout, Israeli security party.   Waved on.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Labour Comes to its Senses Too Late to Prevent an Outpouring of Class Hatred

'...the shadow chancellor, is to launch an attack on Gordon Brown’s stewardship of the economy, saying he allowed Britain to become overdependent on tax receipts from the City and housing.' (Financial Times).

That Labour presided over “an unbalanced economy” is admitted by the shadow Chancellor.  What did they expect leaving an unbalanced man in charge of government economic and financial policy for 13 years? 

It's no good wrecking the vestibule of Millbank Tower and flinging heavy objects from nine floors up onto police officers.  Labour's outgoing junta has admitted,  'There's no money left'.  The Coalition government is trying to protect and preserve the core welfare state - the health system and the provision of an educational foundation free at the point of use. 

The vicious, opportunist stirring up of distress to the point of assault on others,  and of vandalism and the destruction of property seen today underlines not the lack of care and concern of our Coalition government, but the disconnect of sectors of the population from any understanding of what Brown did and, more importantly, of the years - decades and more -  that it will take to purge the effects of his insouciant, incompetent  incomprehension of the market capitalist world in which we live.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Mistreating the Unemployed

'... a discretionary tool for JobCentre advisers to use only on the most intransigent long-term unemployed who have resisted other incentives to find a job. It will not be based on the length of time a person is out of the jobs market.', will not do at all.

Job Centre advisers are not   competent to hand out sanctions (severe sanctions at that) to other citizens.  Removing someone's livelihood cannot be a bureaucratic act.  There would have to be a specific offence  and evidence that showed the offence had been committed and there would have to be determined penalties inflicted by a court.

 Apart  from arbitrary use of diversely imposed penalties of varying severity, there is another  obvious point that if work is  available to be done then it should be done on proper terms and conditions; there is no work that is so unskilled and undesirable that  workers doing it can be treated as if they are worth less than those 'employed'.

If there are people wilfully refusing to work when offered work (and the  constantly cited examples, gardening and street cleaning are respectable and sometimes even highly-skilled jobs) then  what jobs are so awful people will risk  abject poverty rather than do them?

Ruling the Waves?

“The incident involving HMS Astute was clearly not a one-off, and the MoD must explain why previous groundings have not been made public”, reports the Sunday Herald.

Incidents took place off the coast of Northern Ireland, in the north Norwegian Sea, in the Arctic, in the Red Sea, in the Atlantic, and off Australia. In all, Britain’s nuclear submarines have run aground 11 times, collided with two other boats and an iceberg, and snagged the nets of two fishing vessels.  The worst incident was on November 22, 1990, when HMS Trenchant snagged the net of the Antares fishing vessel in Bute Sound, north of Arran. The boat sank with the loss of four lives, and an official inquiry blamed mistakes by submarine commanders.

The  list published by the Herald  reveals a previously unreported accident in April 2009 somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. “HMS Torbay grounded in soft sand and mud to avoid a merchant vessel which was sailing erratically,” an MoD spokeswoman told the Sunday Herald. The craft had not been damaged, she said. “The incident was investigated and no further action was taken.

An independent expert on nuclear submarine safety, John Large,  called on the Royal Navy to review its navigational training. 

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Woolas: Judge for Yourself

Head of Legal links to the judgment.  You might like to read it, say after lunch on Sunday if it's wet.  I did wonder if the misrepresentations had not been so racially sensitive Woolas would have been whacked quite so hard.  But then he was an immigration minister, he must have been up to speed on the greater weight given to politically incorrect offensiveness as opposed to mere offensiveness.

I wondered too whether if the winner had been thrown out for offending, shouldn't the runner-up be seated automatically?  After all, having to run the race again in different circumstances and against other candidates hardly rights the wrong done at the original election.  Perhaps British justice isn't in the business of righting wrongs.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Price of Berlusconi

Mr Berlusconi has raised the price from an apple and half a crown to an Audi and 7000 euros but the activities are still unbecoming, particularly to a prime minister and party leader.  Complain as he will Franco Frattini, the Italian Foreign Secretary must come to terms, as must all the other Berlusconi satraps, with the fact that they have a 74 year  old man who consorts with minors (to quote his wife as she left him) purporting to represent Italy to the rest of Europe.

Until Berlusconi has been made to step down (and this can only be done by the members of his own Party for he has outfaced charges of corruption, tax evasion, brushed aside public buffoonery, ridiculous addresses to international conventions, and brazenly sought to subvert the Italian Constitution)  other states will want no dealings with Italy.

The problem is the deadlock between the ruling Coalition's factions.  Bluntly the Northern Leagues want to retain their riches for themselves and subvert the unity of the Italian peninsula; the Fini faction want to reinforce unity by recognising that there must be some redistribution of the wealth generated in the north to the less-developed south, and impose some sort of normal political structure and behaviours upon an essentially criminal governance in the south.   Berlusconi wants immunity from prosecution for himself, his family and his enterprises; and he's having a whale of a time using his powers of office for personal purposes.   Only Parliament could grant that immunity, and it won't, and even if it did the President of Italy would block any such constitutional perversions.

Meanwhile the Left and former communists and socialists bleat for new elections (which are wholly unjustified as there is a majority to be obtained in the House) and which they would lose anyway even as they thus reinforce Berlusconi's position.  The Italians do not want a big state, high taxes government of the progressive left any more than does any other country in Europe.  They will vote for anyone who guarantees their taxes are low or, if nominally high, do not have to be actually paid.  The Left would do well to sit down and be quiet while the Right does what only the Right can do.

Once the Frattinis of this Italian world come to their senses and tell Berlusconi they will bring him down in the House or he can step aside himself and be involved in brokering the deal to choose the new centre-right leader (which might be preferable to having no say at all even if he can't have his immunity price) only then  can they complain about  Italy having no say at all in deals between European Union member states.

Remember, Remember 4 November

Florence, 1966

Coping With Rising Prices

So what can we produce here at HG Towers, I wonder, as prices rise and rise? 
wheat: yes, though it hasn't been grown for years and years the wheatfields are still there, if some of them are under trees, but those can be cut for fuel;
meat: yes, currently venison, boar, and hare but could be expanded to chicken, guinea fowl, duck, and rabbit;
corn: yes, did that quite recently as it attracted a subsidy;
tobacco: yes, but truly awful cigarillos come from it;
olive oil:yes;
wine: not at the moment but could be re-established although really not worth it when it can be bought at 1 euro an excellent Chianti litre;
veg. and salads: yes, in quite scary quantities;
fruit: some now, others the trees all had to be replanted so we'll have to survive on figs, apricots, cherries, and quince for a bit; 
from the wild there are mushrooms and berries (how Levi-Strauss).

It sounds quite good but I'd have to set up a food processing plant to cope with it all and it's bad enough already (the word 'tomato' makes me reach for my gun) - self-sufficiency is really about processing and storing your own just as much as growing it.

As for, coffee, tea, sugar, orange juice and hard alcohol (though I'm told there's a primitive still somewhere in the cantinas - probably buried under an avalanche of books) it'll have to be the supermarket.  And I'm not boiling the washing with ash and soap root either, never mind cleaning my teeth with sage leaves dipped in salt.  So I may as well get all the stuff above while I'm doing the Lidl run, after all, I wouldn't like to waste petrol.  And I could pop into Prada en route,   and get a few things before cotton prices get out of hand.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Poor Social Democracy

The United States mid term results are a terrible blow to reconstructing social democracy as an attractive and valid political stance.  In its time and place social democracy has served some countries well: Germany, for instance , while now led by a centre-right Chancellor and Coalition, has prospered and continues to prosper in part  because of social democratic ideas on working people's input, and embodiment into decision-taking in firms and institutional systems, remaining in place.

Indeed it can be argued that the best of social democracy has been accepted and that what is left is now being hi-jacked by two main groups: former socialist, communist and even iffier idealogues of the wilder shores of the defeated left; and private careerists who see in politics a personal route to and enjoyment of a lifestyle and living standards otherwise for them unattainable .

The first group will be seen off in the nature of things - anno domini will take them into old age and political irrelevance;  their main function now seems to be delivering the physical and financial resources of the working people's former organised defence structures - trades unions, co-operatives, mutualised financial institutions, foundations etc., into the hands of the latter, the careerists.  Not that the old placemen of the left are not willing to enjoy the rewards of office, if not Office.  After all, they didn't come into politics not to take what they deserved, not most of them anyway.

The careerists are simply destructive of the ideals that belong, rightly, to social democracy.  Self-righteous, self-important, determined in their occupation of what they define as the moral high ground, moulded into an apparatchik mindset by the democratic centralist tendencies imposed by former practioners of the socialist and communist movements who control the purse-strings, they are, above all, committed to the ending of democracy in the market capitalist state.  Their objective is the managed economy in the managed post-democratic region under global progressive governance.  With themselves as the managers.

These people are already enjoying the heightened life styles they seek to instal for themselves permanently; even lowly minions are business-classing about the world and have made it into the four stars in desirable metropolises. The bigger fish command personal security, private jets, discreet airports, free mansions, and all life-expenses paid, with every whim from the personal abuse of others to launching invasions of other countries catered for.  Cut off their heads at the polls and they are reborn into the networks of 'casualties of as yet undefeated democracy' to continue their pernicious assaults on our lives and wealth, tended by their creeps and learner-careerists, safety-netted from the fall into obscurity by knowledge gained from office, or Office.

This is why it is so important for them to maintain a public face of virtue unrewarded, minor failure to communicate rather than major disaster that brought the country to its economic knees, launcher of wars, yes, but of just wars; no different from, wholly comparable with, other political, historical and admired figures. 

They haven't gone away, you know. There is just too good a thing to be made of  riding on poverty, inequality,  unemployment, unfairness and unhappiness in all their forms.  There's a perfect example of their way of being at the weekend in Rome - one or two elders and a raft of careerist juniors come together in considerable style (in an out-of-date sort of way) to discuss 'Renewing Social Democracy: contribution to a European-wide debate'.  It's funded by the European Institute for Progressive Studies, the Gramsci Institute, the Fondazione Socialismo, and the Ebert.  Lot of our taxpayer money in there, and a lot of our fathers' and grandfathers' and even great-grandfathers' resources, so painstakingly put aside to help the working people.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Lovely Profile

'...two explosive devices were discovered inside printer cartridges at the UK’s East Midlands airport and in Dubai after tip-offs to the intelligence services. The packages were bound from Yemen to the addresses of synagogues in Chicago.', reports the Financial Times (and lots of other papers).

So there you are, sitting in your synagogue in Chicago, writing your talk for next Saturday, and your spouse comes in and says there's a package from the Yemen just arrived.


So why isn't there profiling of addresses of senders and recipients, of unlikely juxtapositions; why isn't there a non-acceptance of anything at all from certain countries?  Meanwhile innocent Ryanair passengers  are traipsing about half-clad on dirty floors , trying to keep half an eye on their valuables that have just disappeared into a dark hole and the other half on their trousers in all their beltlessness.

It isn't hard to work out who are the baddies, or where they come from.  So stop putting the rest of us through treating-everyone-equally purgatory.   That way,  those jetting off from London to Rome to save social democracy next weekend (in the Hotel Majestic? in the via Veneto? Or perhaps !! - clearly a case for profiling and special measures) will not inconvenience Angels flying in the opposite direction to see their family.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Who Controls the Principal Defence and Weapons Sites in the UK?

Who has control of the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons and delivery systems?  The suggested takeover by United States' private companies of the Scottish submarine bases and warhead storage plus their servicing facilities in Scotland seems to hand over what little control our government has of these weapons to not just he United States government, but to a US  multinational with very different operational criteria, not to mention democratic control, from that of a sovereign government.

A local member of Parliament is to make a  rarest of appearances in his workplace today to appeal for the servicing of the flightless aircraft carriers to be carried out in this, his, area of Scotland.  A servicing contract that runs for half a century.  The appeal will be cast in terms of jobs for the local boys, but there is to wonder if this isn't really an attempt to channel profitable contracts to American armaments makers, to add to their already too extensive presence in our defence sites.

At least the contracts going to the French  bases and servicing facilities would leave more of this very sensitive armaments area in European hands and under a European democratic governmental control, where such issues should be. 

As for who has control over the UK's nuclear  weapons, it is a pity that the chain of command is not in the least clear, certainly nothing like as clear as it is for the French nuclear deterrent.