Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Breaking Vows

  • You won't believe what the Duchess of Windsor looks like now
  • The Brexit sign means happy motoring
  • Unemployment drops to lowest rate since 1575
  • Brexit won't mean shift in policy towards migrating birds, says Boris
  • Donald Trump shows off his new state-of-the-art telephone
  • Ireland angers voices over Brexit
  • Polish MEP skinned alive for suggesting that men are less intelligent than women
  • Bert Weedon calls for expulsion of Turkey from Eurovision Song Thrush Contest
  • Article 50 accidentally triggered. Man held
  • Tories face tax revolt from Welsh bards

Mont Blanc

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Am I the same person as I was at the age of twenty? To make my meaning a little clearer, am I the same person as when I started this blog some 12 years ago? Has my character changed? Has my way of looking at the world changed?

These are questions to which I have no answer, but of one thing I can be sure: the quality of my brain has not changed, only its stamina. As evidence, I would like to cite Yuval Noah Harari (I had to check three times to make sure I had got his name right) and his exceedingly brilliant Home Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. I could never in a million years match the extraordinary clarity and focus of the Daktari brain. My brain is just not hard-wired in the same way, but the good news is that perhaps one day, thanks to advances in biochemistry, it could be. Indeed, there is no more urgent challenge to the world than to improve the quality of the Capel-Dunn brain.

As to the stamina of my brain, dazzled as I am by the lucidity of Jokari's exposition, I have to admit to a feeling of exhaustion after reading a page or two. I am assuming that biochemistry can do something about that as well.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Mont Blanc

110 miles away as the crow flies
Not all that easy to see, but it's there on the right.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Who Said This?

“I haven’t spoken to my mother-in-law for eighteen months. I don’t like to interrupt her.”

Let's Keep This Car on the Road

Some people bring an arrogant streak to the task of driving; others, like me, are afflicted by the conviction that all other drivers are sitting in perpetual judgement of our "performance". Am I driving too fast (unlikely) or too slow (probably)? Am I drifting too far towards the centre of the road? Have I forgotten to dip my headlights? Did I forget to signal my intention to turn left? Have I given those behind me ample opportunity to overtake? Do these people realise that we are in a built-up area and that all I'm doing  is trying to observe the speed limit? Am I looking out of the window too much in an effort to appear casual or, on the contrary, does my hunched posture over the steering wheel indicate that I have just robbed a bank?

In these tense encounters, I am always grateful for allies. These may include little cars whose occupants, typically sales reps who have exhausted their reserve of points, do not require a driving licence. Hostile and aggressive elements can hardly blame me if I am stuck behind one of these vehicles. Similarly, in this agricultural part of France, it would take a particularly psychopathic driver not to sympathise with me when I fail to overtake a tractor. For once in a while, I can pretend to be on the same side as the school bully.

When I was younger, and presumably more alert, I was always careful not to sound my horn at those less fortunate souls with whom I was required to share the road, so why can't the new generation extend the same courtesy to me in my twilight years? Why do they have to be so perfectly beastly to those of us who fought to preserve a world in which our descendants could drive in peace and my goodness I'm driving much too fast as I go through this village; I do so hope there are no gendarmes around.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Of All Time

Is it left to me to point out the idiocy of the expression "of all time" as in, for example, "the best Oscar dress of all time" or "the greatest president of all time"? How can we designate a winner when time itself is or has not yet finished? Although we can safely say that Donald Trump is the worst American president up to now, it is at least possible to imagine somebody worse than him in the future. Similarly, Queen Elizabeth II is generally acknowledged to be the best Queen of England so far, but we cannot altogether rule out the possibility that someone even better might come along one day. Is Pope Francis the best pope of all time?

Some have suggested that "All Time" actually refers to a place and not a period of time. But where is this place called All Time? And even if it could be shown to exist, the expression would have to be changed to in all time. We would have to say that Donald Trump is the worst president of and in all time

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ever So Slightly Round the Bend

To Cîteaux Abbey to observe the requiem mass in honour of the late François Fillon. Mass Observation, I suppose you would call it. It's funny how the demographics of religion as expressed in political terms vary from one country to another: notwithstanding the long shadow cast by the Graham Greene/Evelyn Waugh/ Farm Street set, Catholicism in England is even today largely a left-wing force, reflecting the Irish presence in large parts of the country, while the Church of England, insofar as it can be said to stand for anything, is often characterised as the Conservative Party at prayer. Over here in France, on the other hand, the Catholic Church is more of a right-wing phenomenon and constitutes François Fillon's natural constituency.

In Cromwell's time, things were very different. The Cavaliers, as exemplified in the dashing figures of Prince Rupert of the Rhine and friends, were basically avowed or closet Catholics, and were therefore guaranteed a very favourable press in my Jesuit school, while the Roundheads were dismissed as a stolid and unimaginative bunch of killjoys.

Going back even further in time, we Catholic boys were torn between admiration of the feats of Francis Drake and disgust at the beastly treatment meted out to the likes of Thomas More and Edmund Campion.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Behind the Scenes at Blogger

One of the most dispiriting things in the life of this particular blogger is to switch over to the "engine-room" of The Subliminal Mr Dunn in search of "activity" among "the community". Here, I am vouchsafed access to information denied to all but the blogger himself. I can, for example, consult information about my Posts, Statistics, something mysteriously referred to as Earnings, and Comments. In the Comments section, I scroll (as in the Dead Sea) down till I get to Awaiting Moderation. This is an option that allows me to have the last word in deciding which comments will appear after each post. As you can readily imagine, I could easily inflate the number of comments by removing this restriction, but I have decided not to go down that slippery path. 

Anyway, I click on Awaiting Moderation and what do I see day after day after day? There are no pending comments

It's enough to make you want to go outside and shoot someone.

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