Signing up

I missed conscription by about one year – although as a university entrant I would probably have deferred my ‘national service’ for four years. A work colleague who had done that in the early ’50s found himself actively involved in the Suez Crisis in ’56. Frying pans and fires come to mind. Neither of us could be dubbed macho or a natural warrior and his tales of derring-do were mostly ironic; although duty had to be done and he like millions of others might have died doing it.

But a career in the the professional military is a whole nuther thing than that, ain’t it? It involves a willing acceptance of the conditions and probabilities – a choice not available to the conscript. That is particularly true, I imagine, of special forces activities – even if I have only Hollywwood and the telly for evidence.

So for once, Don the One has a point. The soldier who died in Niger this month did know what he’d signed up for; but as so often Trump’s sense of occasion and timing (let alone respect) leaves much to be desired. His own alleged avoidance of the Draft suggests his duty genes are also flawed.

Small but ready to conform

This little kingdom of only 5.5 million souls, it has to be said, is a mèlange of the clichèed sublime and gorblimey; rarely making the international meeja top ten in anything but happiness and nordic noir eccentricity. The last week’s front-runners were a murderous submariner and a national ban on the rarely-seen burqa, both stories remarkable for their otherworldliness. Continue reading “Small but ready to conform”

Incomprehensible

The meeja inform me that the grand ole US of A has more than one firearm per adult head of population and there is a mass shooting incident with four or more fatalities every 9 or ten days. In Las Vegas someone dies in a firearms incident every day. And Don the One announces that any gubmint debate on the issue would be ‘premature’.

So why do I bother to write about it? Surely we are all so accustomed to these facts that we no longer react – except with an ‘oh, not again’ under our breaths?

Well, I don’t think it can be too late to protest against such madness, such profligacy, such barbarism. But if you ask me what can be done, I haven’t the slightest idea. Do you?

Plebiscites are the problem

I know one of our cherished colleagues currently resting in NW America would have us use referenda to run the country – like a township in God’s own country. Democracy at its purest.

Unfortunately last year’s vote on Britain’s EU membership has caused psephologists (and normal folk too) to question their real value. I mean, why not have another go if you don’t like result of the first? One particular guru who was one of our Dave’s teachers has written about it:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/19/british-voters-second-referendum-on-brexit

His justification is that the voters may have seen the error of their ways! Yeah, right! (Which being translated is ‘now agree with him’.) In fact that’s precisely the problem with the whole idea of asking people to vote on issues. They will change their minds and change them back again (etc. ad nauseam) – which ain’t no way to run a railroad. That’s why we have a Parliament, to even out the bumps in the road to decision-making. Or to try another analogy: videos provide more evidence than snapshots.

I’m afraid I can hardly credit the principle that if you don’t like an answer, you can always ask the question again!

Back to the future

I have an awful feeling of dèja vu when I scan the headlines today. The so-called Cuban missile crisis in 1962 was similar, but in several key respects different.

First of all, the context was the Cold War, when fear and suspicion were the background to every international event. 2017 has been relatively calm diplomatically. Second, the protagonists were schooled in the politics of the time: fear and suspicion! Third, the media and even, one suspects, the leaders of the USA and the USSR were dependent on relatively primitive intelligence-gathering. Nothing was certain.

Lastly, the current leaders might both be classified as mentally defective. Both rely on a supreme sense of superiority and power, neither, it seems, relying on the support of their people.

I can only hope a peaceful solution can be found this time, as it was in 1962.

 

Life ain’t easy

Prince Philip’s dignified withdrawal from public life last week is not mirrored by his counterpart in Denmark, for whom the rôle of second fiddle has long been a bone of contention with his Queen, Margrethe.

Charles+Camilla+visit+Queen+Denmark+-sm0NZ-x0THm

Prince Henrik (whose name was modified from the French, Henri) performed his duties as consort for several decades until 15 years ago when his son, Crown Prince Frederik, became first reserve whenever the Queen was unable to turn up. Henri saw it as a slight. More recently he made it known, rather forlornly, that he should be promoted to King; and only last week he announced his burial place would not be alongside his Queen in Roskilde, the traditional resting place of Danish monarchs. He no longer participates in royal events at all. (The above meeting was in March this year.)

Perhaps, if pressed, he would point out that his predicament could never happen to a female consort – witness his son’s Tasmanian spouse: eventually to be Queen Mary (not Maria!) when Frederik accedes. All I can say is, life ain’t easy, Henri.

Vive the difference

 

The recent cringe-worthy visit of the First Man to France demonstrated the qualities of Gallic behaviour. Larger than life, self-satisfied and fundamentally hypocritical. Excusez-moi? Did you say those adjectives describe their No. One Visitor? Oh, yes, I hadn’t noticed. By all accounts the French populace were less than impressed.

Meanwhile, back in the real world (London) his demands for a ‘better reception’ when he deigns to grace us with his ineffable presence, were met with a straightforward, ‘Well, you know the British press’. So he should not hold his presidential breathe.

Says it all really.