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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Unfortunate Adjacencies in BBC News

Yesterday, the BBC 10 o’clock news covered wicked Mr Trump’s treatment of immigrant children (which, it was implied, was very unprecedented, nor ever praised by the left). The beeb’s Washington correspondent told us that

“In a series of tweets that will further strain the transatlantic alliance”

Mr Trump asserted Germany’s immigrants were causing that country problems such as more crime,

“but that is false. Germany’s crime rate is lower than it has ever been.”

(The emphasis on the word false was in the original.)

Soon after came their coverage of Merkel’s woes. The beeb’s Europe correspondent told us that, instead of a cooperative pan-European policy (which, she seemed to be implying, was what had been needed), individual European countries had raised barriers (references to populism and stuff), so now Merkel was meeting with the Italian PM one day, the French president the next, in

“a race against time”

to salvage things in a Europe

“more disunited than ever.”

I can’t understand why Merkel doesn’t just point out to her German voters that crime in Germany is lower than ever now they’ve imported such vast numbers of people from areas where crime rates are notoriously low – uh, well, notorious, anyway. 🙂 If any wicked right-wing populist dared to question her own crime statistics, Merkel could point to the happy experiences of Austria or Sweden, and if that doesn’t do the trick, she can always quote the majestic authority of the BBC: suggesting an immigrant-related rise in crime is false.

I also can’t understand why the BBC’s correspondents don’t coordinate their narratives better. That emphatic false from the Washington correspondent at the end of his story really wanted to be further from the somewhat downbeat report from the Europe correspondent – like, in a whole different news broadcast.

[I wrote down the BBC correspondents’ words from memory immediately after the programme aired yesterday.]

The style is catching

(With grateful acknowledgement to the Continental Telegraph’s inspiring Aunt Agatha, whose insightful replies to the many problems of British establishment figures are a comic must-read.)

Dear Aunt Europa,
   we are retired British operatives who have been doing nicely over the last two years as the British end of an operation to help some American friends. Our job was to type up rumours about Mr Trump, and a couple of people briefly connected to his campaign, in the form of impressive-seeming intelligence reports that our US associates could convert into bugging authorisations and sinister-sounding leaks to the media.

At one time, this work brought us golden showers of payment and praise. Recently, however, our transatlantic buddies have soured on us. Apparently some of our inventions proved too baroque for the public’s credulity, and we were not discreet enough in our supportive leaking to US papers. Worse still, some of our friends now seem nervous that their conversations with us might themselves be bugged by leak investigators. So the payments and praise have both dried up.

Can you suggest another line of work for us (bearing in mind that it might not be prudent for any of us to visit the US just now).

      Yours as sincerely as we ever are,
            (You’ll forget our current aliases almost as
              soon as we will, so let’s just skip this bit)

Dear Retired British Operatives,
   it is always wise to play to your strengths, so I suggest you find a client on this side of the Atlantic who has the same eagerness for your existing skills and storyline. Long before Mr Trump said that his election night would be “Brexit plus plus”, a similar hatred of both on the part of a similar group of people over here was quite evident. There are many Remoaners on both sides of the channel who would instantly and fervently believe almost anything you typed up if you rejigged your reports to be about the Leave campaign. Although their list of wealthy backers was shorter than Remain’s, there is a reasonable chance that at least one of them has at least one investment with a Russian connection. And you might get lucky; maybe one of them has socialised with a Russian – or even married a Russian. To those with your experience, making this sound most sinister to Remoaner journalists and MPs should be child’s play.

I do suggest however that you avoid “golden showers” or similar inventions. I am astonished to learn that it is possible to lose credibility through underestimating the taste of the American public, but if that one proved too crude to be believed even over there then the British public (outside Remoaner circles) might not credit it either.

      Yours every bit as sincerely as you were being
            Aunt Europa

Politically correct v. formally correct v. actually correct: distant thoughts on the Tommy Robinson affair

Prime Minister George Grenville was the author of the 1765 stamp act – which led, in time, to the creation of the United States, but that was very far from his intent. In terms of mere formal law, Grenville had a good case for believing he could do what he did. In an obituary, Edmund Burke explained how a well-meaning man of some ability could cause so much trouble. After studying law, Grenville

did not go very largely into the world but plunged into … the business of office, and the limited and fixed methods and forms established there.

Men who only know the world of government administration are dangerously limited:

habits of office are apt to give them a turn to think the substance of business not to be much more important than the forms in which it is conducted. These forms are adapted to ordinary occasions and therefore persons who are nurtured in office do admirably well, as long as things go on in their common order, but when the high roads are broken up, and the waters out, when a new and troubled scene is opened, and the file affords no precedent, then it is that a greater knowledge of mankind, and a far more comprehensive understanding of things, is requisite than office ever gave, or than office can ever give.

As regards Tommy Robinson:

– Sending him to jail for 13 months was ever so politically correct.

– As discussed in the comment threads of a couple of posts below, it may well also be formally correct – not in terms of some new-minted ‘hate speech’ law but in terms of established UK trial precedents. We will not know for absolute certain till we hear more (including what – if anything – Mr Robinson can say for himself), but between those who wonder if he engaged in deliberate Gandhi-style law-breaking, those who wonder if he had a layman’s (mis)understanding of the law, and those who think he’s an idiot or worse, there is ample scope for it.

– Who thinks it is actually correct to send Mr Robinson to jail for 13 months while we have yet to hear of the Rotherham councillors (or any of their imitators elsewhere) serving 13 days? (Being ordered to apologise for what they did to whistleblowers does not quite compare.)

As Burke told the MPs who voted to tax the north american colonies,

All we have a right to do is not always wise to be done.

The analogy might strike the uninitiated as coming somewhat from a distance.

The strangest things remind the BBC of the evils of the west – and fail to remind them of the evils of socialism.

If you watch through the BBC’s ‘Why mums-to-be are fleeing Venezuela’ and then wait, you will see an earlier piece ‘Begging for food in Venezuela’. Watch that and keep waiting and you will see ‘Where a coffee costs wads of banknotes’ after which you’ll be offered ‘Venezuela indigenous group flees crisis’. Finally, having worked back to 2 August 2017, you will encounter ‘What’s going on in Venezuela?’, during which you will learn that in 2013, Chavez was succeeded by “fellow socialist” Maduro. This is the first – and AFAICS the last – encounter with the word socialist or any word resembling it.

If watching late-stage-socialism-reporting-that-dares-not-speak-its-name depresses you, you can cheer yourself up by watching Tony Robinson (Baldrick as was 🙂 ) in a series of programmes on Britain’s cathedrals. If cathedral architecture and history is your thing, these are perfectly watchable – he even comes across an actual baldrick at one point – with only occasional excursions into BBC-style history.

Liverpool Cathedral was built in the 20th century, funded by public contributions. Building began before WWI and was not yet finished when German bombers hit it several times without managing to flatten it in WWII.

– Did you know that the Earle family contributed £25,000 of its £500,000 building cost? Did you know that a full century and more before the first plans for Liverpool cathedral were drawn up, an ancestor of the Earle family made money in the triangular trade? Well, you would if you’d watched the programme on May 4th.

– Did you know that in the century between these two events, British people – possibly including an Earle ancestor and of-statistical-certainty including ancestors of other donors – made the slave trade and then slavery itself rare in the world. Well, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have learnt it from the programme.

I liked the cathedrals, though. And if you watched through all those Venezuela shorts then you would likely suspect that something that government was doing was unwise.

Did the boy who cried “Wolf” believe in wolves?

Obviously he did on his last day, as the wolves killed him. But earlier, when he enjoyed making the villagers run at his command, did the boy who cried wolf believe in wolves? Did he tell himself that every flash of a squirrel’s tail could be a wolf? Did he think all real wolves had been frightened off long ago? Was he just living in the moment, in the intoxication of his power, not thinking of the morrow at all? Or was he too sure that people would always come running when he cried “Wolf” – so they’d still come if there ever really were wolves.

My left-wing friends – those who discuss politics with me – are (obviously 🙂 ) willing to discuss politics with someone like me. They belong to that (dwindling?) band on the left who don’t think the right answer to every question is to call it ‘hate speech’. So they cannot answer easily this question:

do the people who believe in ‘hate speech’ believe in the hatred they say fills that speech? Do the boys and girls who cry ‘hate speech” really believe that anyone’s hatred but their own will ever cause more than willfully-indulged hurt feelings?

How would we know?

– We know what the ‘hate speech’ enforcers say in public (no right-winger can live in a bubble today – which is great for our cognitive diversity), but that just tells me that the boy who cries wolf is crying “Wolf”.

– We can talk to any left-wing friends who haven’t (yet) been cast out for knowing us. But all I know from mine is typified by the one who told me that, since the election of Trump, her west-coast liberal friends were ‘hysterical’ – true, I do not doubt, but more a description than an explanation.

Does anyone know more?

If you cross the river Halys, you will destroy a mighty empire!

Twitter’s CEO and its co-founder urge other left-wingers to consider a recent article explaining “Why there’s no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history — one side must win”. It’s a long read – but almost any excerpt indicates which side the author is sure both should and will win. Trump…

“has alienated most of America and certainly all the growing political constituencies of the 21st century. He is turning the Republican brand toxic for millennials, women, Latinos, people of color, college-educated people, urban centers, the tech industry, and the economic powerhouses of the coasts, to name a few.

For a long time, Republicans have been able to hide their vile inner selves…

through a sophisticated series of veils, invoking cultural voodoo that fools a large enough number of Americans to stay in the game.

It is therefore almost a relief to the author that

Donald Trump has laid waste to that sophistication

so that it’s now obvious to all – or almost all – that

The Republican Party is all about rule by and for billionaires at the expense of working people.

Whereas before…

The Republican Party for the past 40 years has mastered using dog whistles to gin up racial divides to get their white voters to the polls.

now…

Trump just disposes of niceties and flatly encourages white nationalists, bans Muslims, walls off Mexicans, and calls out “shithole” countries.

I confess to some doubts about this – after all, not one Mexican has been walled off yet, and I have the impression that few muslims have in any sense been banned – but the author brooks no denial. And speaking of denial,

“The Republican Party is the party of climate change denial. Trump is the denier-in-chief, but there are 180 climate science deniers in the current Congress (142 in the House and 38 in the Senate), and none of them are Democrats. More than 59 percent of Republicans in the House and 73 percent of Republicans in the Senate deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening, that human activity is the main cause, and that it is a serious threat.

If only I could trust the author’s counting ability – but since believers in his “scientific consensus” are believers in a statistical method that can extract hockey sticks from random noise, can I feel sure that the numbers of sceptics are growing as fast as he says?

The essence of Trump is that there’s…

No beating around that bush for the sake of appearances — Trump burned the bush down.

If only this were wholly true – but for once I’ll agree with the author: there is truth in it. The alternate realities of Scott Adams were never so vivid to me than at the moment I read these assertions of how Trump exposes the right while thinking that the very words I was reading showed how the Trump phenomenon exposes the left.

The author explains his simple and foolproof plan:

The way forward is on the path California blazed about 15 years ago. … reconfigure the political landscape and shift a supermajority of citizens — and by extension their elected officials — under the Democratic Party’s big tent. The natural continuum of more progressive to more moderate solutions then got worked out within the context of the only remaining functioning party. … Make no mistake: A reckoning with not just Trump, but conservatism, is coming.

In short, the author and friends have both a duty to reject all compromise and, now that Trump has exposed their enemies’ true nature, a 98.2% chance of winning this war they plan to hot up (or better – he doesn’t actually quote a percentage); after all, it worked in California. What could go wrong, since…

This is a civil war that can be won without firing a shot.

As Reagan once said, “It takes two to tango.” By contrast, a certain Adolf is merely the most infamous of many who have shown that it only takes one to start a war. Political correctness is all about ‘inclusion’ – except when it’s all about excluding more and more people for *isms and *phobias ever more broadly defined. If PC follows this advice to make US politics explicitly a conflict that “only one side must win”, then I predict that the prophecy will prove correct – but possibly also Delphic.

The Gullibility of Cynicism

Under these conditions, you could make people believe the most fantastic lies one day, and if the next day they were presented with irrefutable proof that their leaders had lied, they would take refuge in cynicism: they would protest that they had always known they were lies, and admire their leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.     (‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’, Hannah Arendt)

Arendt states that ideology and terror are two sides of the same coin, preparing people for their two-sided role as persecutor or victim in a totalitarian state. She never quite says – but it is close to the surface in several remarks – that cynicism and gullibility are likewise two sides of the same coin, not opposites at all, preparing people for their two-sided role as liar or dupe in enforcing political correctness.

Jeremy Corbyn does not trust the UK’s forensics and wants the nerve gas sent to Russia for their analysis. Mr Ed may be right that Corbyn’s reported statement – that “the nerve agent be sent back to Russia” – reveals his true opinion, but the boy who came from a posh-enough background and attended a grammar school, yet still managed to leave it with two Es, is quite thick enough both to reveal an unconscious assumption and to believe his conscious words. Jeremy is too cynical to credit UK forensics – so he wants Putin’s people to examine the evidence and announce whether Putin did it or not. (One might guess he likewise thinks reports of Russian athletic doping are western lies – after all, Putin’s experts say so – and be even more sure he thought that in the days when the ‘peoples republics’ won many an olympic medal. But perhaps even Jeremy is not rash enough to say so – there are voters who ignore politics but understand sport well enough. 🙂 )

Scepticism can be very healthy (this blog has always had a very healthy number of eurosceptics 🙂 ). But when you want to believe the forensic analysis of the Russian state because you are too cynical to believe the forensic analysis of the British state then you have indeed demonstrated Arendt’s point: cynicism and gullibility are not opposites. The precise evidential value of the UK’s ongoing forensic tests can be debated. The evidential value of anything announced by Russia, were Corbyn’s idiot demand acted on, cannot be.

Definitive Texts: 1984 as PC’s self-stupifying how-to manual

I get the question, in another form, from teachers, who suggest I should write about ‘real’ things like racism and unemployment. Sometimes the teachers claim that fantasy is too difficult, or ‘beyond the average child’, but a lot of them complain that it doesn’t give them opportunities enough for class discussions of important modern issues.     (‘Why don’t you write real books?’, Diana Wynne Jones)

In Orwell’s 1984, one of the many acts of the IngSoc (English Socialist) party is to write garbled versions (called ‘Definitive Texts’) of books whose message undermines the totalitarian ethos but whose titles are too well known just to repress. A review (h/t instapundit) shows that the recent film version of Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ has given it this treatment. Meg and her mother are now black, and the child actor chosen to play Charles Wallace adds so considerably to the rainbow effect that the film makes him adopted, lest even the most woke viewer notice the impossibility of his being the offspring of Meg’s mixed-race parents. The twins are missing entirely

which may be a blessing, considering that political correctness probably would have dictated they be played by a Native American dwarf and a disabled transsexual

etc. And all this merely serves as a distraction from the ruthless gutting of the Christian resonances that are as much a part of L’Engle’s books as of the Narnia stories. (The numerous other incoherent plot changes may reflect the scriptwriter’s wokeness or their poor memory or both.)

The review presents all this well enough. I’m not writing here to repeat it, but to reflect on how it hurts the PC themselves, not just us. To explain, I have to provide a worked example (so this post is longer than mine usually are).

Sadly, I missed the chance Natalie once had to meet the late Diana Wynne Jones, so I never asked her the questions I had. One of the more trivial was about her third reason why her early books all had male leading characters. (Her first reason is by far the more worth discussing – but that is another story.) Her third reason was she wanted to write a book that her children (all boys) would read and “in those days, boys would not read books with a girl as lead character.”

Obviously, Diana knew that was not literally true. Swallows and Amazons (written long before “those days”) stars twice as many girls as boys, and a later book in the series has thrice as many girls as boys. However she could have replied that none of those girls ever think a thought that would bring a blush to the cheeks of a young boy. When Nancy and Peggy are obliged by their great-aunt to dress in party frocks rather than the sailing gear they prefer, their reaction is almost as horrified as a boy’s might be. Susan’s femininity is strictly practical – boys know that when children camp or sail, someone has to manage the cooking. Perhaps Dorothea, with her dreams of Dutchmen bringing her tulips across the north sea and her yearning to be a writer, gets closest to thinking girlish thoughts: one can just about imagine her writing “The Tale of the Twin Princesses” if there were the slightest chance any of her friends would read it – but since she knows they wouldn’t, she writes “The Outlaw of the Broads”, which is clearly a swashbuckler.

So what I would have asked Diana was, “Did you ever try ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ on your sons?” (It was published in 1963 – their ages suit). I read it at age seven or eight and could not put it down, so I think she could have got her sons to read it – despite the fact that Meg, for all her mathematical genius, is not at all like the Amazon girls. Page one of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ finds Meg angsting away in her bedroom. The next day she meets a boy and, after a shamefully brief period of caution, goes gooey over him. She’s embarrassed when her mother accidentally reveals she still plays with dolls – but that’s nothing to what a small boy identifying with her would feel.

Now part of why that boy keeps reading is because if small boy reader gets as far as page 2, he may think for a bit that the book will be about Charles Wallace. Adoring elder sister Meg knows Charles is a genius, despite the neighbours thinking he’s an idiot. Every small boy relates to this. Every small boy knows he’s a genius but, for some strange reason, the people around him treat him as if he were an idiot. Maybe this book is really about the amazing deeds of superboy Charles Wallace, as chronicled by Lois-Lane-like sister Meg?

If this brief mistake were in any way contrived, it would be a huge turn-off to re-reading. “The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler” was praised by all the usual suspects. Aided by deceptive cover art, its writer works hard in the first half of the book to persuade you that first-person-narrator Tyke is a boy. Then she reveals Tyke is a girl. It’s as easy as ringing a doorbell and running off. “Yes comrade, this proves you too still suffer unconscious gender micro-stereotyping. Report to your assigned gender deconstruction re-educator immediately.” I assume some boys with feminist mothers read it once. I’d guess fewer read it twice. (Of course, these days, the making of those fixed binary assumptions about Tyke’s she-it-he gender identity would be the verboten thing. It is so hard for the woke to stay ‘relevant’.)

In a ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ however, this initial impression is wholly natural and innocent. It is close to how Madeleine L’Engle really does see Meg’s and Charles’ later relationship. (In the later books of the series, more-grown-up Charles is usually pointman, with Meg in a supportive role.) In the first third of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, Charles takes the initiative in trying to rescue their lost father. Meg is the observer of the action but also the weakest: the slowest to recover from multi-dimensional travel, the slowest to learn the lessons their guides teach, the least patient (though the value of this is slightly more ambiguous). In a character-displaying scene the children confront the wall that sucks in the forms which define everyone on the totalitarian planet of Camazotz. The two boys each reach out a hand to touch it – “Ugh!” says Charles, “It’s like ice”, says Calvin – while Meg, between them, is intensely conscious she has no desire whatever to let go of their other hands to touch this vile wall herself. The boys can explore the wall; her job is to give (and receive) moral support. Already however, we’ve had hints that Charles is too young, too confident, more at risk than he realises. When he first attempts a dangerously overconfident move, Meg, terrified, temporarily saves him by almost knocking him out but when he recovers the two resume their relation of Charles taking the lead. Assuring her he can handle it, he advances open-eyed to his doom. The first third of the book ends with Meg, her rescued father and her boyfriend fleeing in the nick of time from Camazotz, where Charles is now far more enslaved than his father was.

In the middle part of the book, Meg is desperate to rescue her beloved baby brother – and her plan for doing so is that her father and boyfriend should come up with a plan for doing so and carry it out. Her job is to motivate them, so she gets angrier and angrier as, despite their best efforts, they make little progress at the impossible task before them. Finally, they manage to contact the guardians who have guided them, only to be told that both father’s plan and boyfriend’s plan are pure suicide. In the awful silence that follows, the unbelieveable idea occurs to Meg (for the first time) that she is expected to do something. Her immediate reaction is to shout, “I can’t go”, and when the cuttingly dismissive response shows her that in fact that is the idea, she has a tantrum. Only after that can she face the facts. It is Charles mind that is enslaved. Her boyfriend has known him for less than a day. Her father has been a prisoner since before Charles could speak. Only Meg knows him well enough to have any chance of freeing him. An impossible task for them, it is only almost impossible for her. Father and boyfriend protest vigorously against sending her – and it is clear both Meg and Madeleine L’Engle would be immensely unimpressed with them if they didn’t – but there is no escaping the logic to which the plot has naturally led her (and the small boy reader). If anything defines Meg, it is that she loves her brother, and to this, everything else she thinks about herself must give way.

Thus we reach the final part of the book, and it is Meg who must “do the hero bit”, as Dianna Wynne Jones puts it. She is the one who must walk, alone and terrified, towards the dark tower, armed only with the usual cryptic clue – that only a single weapon can save her “but you must find it for yourself”. I won’t spoil it for you by telling whether she wins through or not – but I suspect you can guess.

So (for those who have managed to endure reading this far) not only could ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ be made the subject of “classroom discussions” but I have (I hope) demonstrated that a lefty teacher with at least two brain cells to rub together – and, much more important, the ability to set their inner PC censor temporarily to a low enough setting while reading it that they can think about it – could make remarks about roles and expectations and all that stuff they like to go on about. But “you can’t say that” silences their ability to think more than our ability to speak. Gross crude effects – make Meg black, replace the Christian themes – plastered onto the tale like Pollock-style paint blobbed onto a Rembrandt, provide the ‘definitive text’ for a socially-aware classroom discussion, a woke review, an idiocy of political correctness – but nothing that relates the actual work to their actual (supposedly) concerns.

The Rank(ed) Evil of Socialism

Under Ian Smith (remember him?), only 5% of the population of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) had votes that counted (and all but one in twenty of them were white) but the other 95% of the population did eat: Mugabe inherited a country where their prosperity was rising. By 2016, only Mugabe and a few cronies had votes that counted, and Zimbabwe produced not the 300,000+ tons of grain per year that it once did, but 20,000 tons. Or, as the poet did not quite put it,

My other enemy is such
As you too should abhor:
Who justly hates white racists much,
Hates socialists yet more.

It seems so superflous to add that non-white racism (between the Shona and Ndebele tribes) was also a feature of Mugabe’s rule; he was a Shona as well as a socialist.

The Parable of the Man of Many New Words

The teacher told the crowd a parable. In a village in the old South in the year 1866, there were several men who had owned slaves, and fought for the confederacy, and been forced to free their slaves, all of them unwillingly, some bitterly so. And there was also in that village a man who had repented of slavery and freed his slaves many, many years before, and had fought for the union, and so returned to that village with their authority and commanded the freeing of all the others’ slaves. And there came to that village a man of many new words. And he said to the man who had freed his slaves long before, “You deplorable sinner. You have owned slaves, therefore you are vile, and you have used force upon these others, therefore you are vile, so you must wear sackcloth and ashes and cringe before these others; and though you repent thus all your days, which I shall make as short as I can, yet you will never be cleansed, you will never be forgiven.” (Except that the man of many new words said this with his many new words, not as I have told it to you.) And he said to the other men, “You have been terribly wronged by that deplorable man. You have no power therefore you can do no wrong and he has used power over you – wrongfully, since he in his past has done evil, and I tell you he still does evil this day and every day. Therefore you must hate him with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength.” (Except that this too he said using his many new words, not as I have told it to you.)

Afterwards, the disciples asked the teacher to explain the parable. He told them the men who fought for the confederacy represented the non-European cultures of the world, all of whom had at times been much enslaved and at other times had done much enslaving, and had sold and bought and owned those they themselves enslaved, and also others. The man who fought for the union represented the English-speaking culture that long ago had been much enslaved, and later had themselves bought and sold and owned slaves (more than some, fewer than others), and then had repented of slavery and made it rare in the world. The man of many new words was the attitude that praises all the cultures that were forced to free their slaves, especially those that were most bitterly unwilling to do so, and hates the only one that freed them by choice.

The disciples asked the teacher why he had not spoken this plainly to the crowd. “If I had done that”, he said, “the men of many new words would have interrupted me before my first sentence was done – and if I had then rebuked them roundly, they would have arrested me for hate speech. (Also, they would have pretended to see a likeness in me to Donald Trump!) But because it is their absurdity to see the ex-confederates in that village as like their enemies, not like their proteges, they did not notice my meaning.”

“But”, replied the disciples, “they’re still not noticing – and they’re still inventing new words.”

Poetic Justice

There once was a Marxist called Lenin
Who did two or three million men in.
That’s a lot to have done in
But where he did one in
His follower Stalin did ten in.

I’ve already quoted Robert Conquest’s limerick in a comment on Perry Metzger’s post below, but, on this anniversary day, it seemed to deserve top billing. I suggest prose commenters continue adding to Perry Metzer’s thread below. Anyone inspired to verse may comment here (or anyone rescuing an old poem on the subject from unmerited neglect).

I regret to have to inform you that, as befits its socialist theme, this imitation of the Erdogan poetry competition does not come with any capitalistic prize money. However if anyone comes up with something witty enough to go viral, they just might thereby help avert the future in which they are sent to the PC Gulag by the comrades.

A Named Unperson

Mark McDonald was the Scottish National Party’s MSP in charge of delivering the Named Person initiative for Scotland’s tiny tots (despite its troubles in the courts, the natz are still pushing it). He was in charge of it until, very suddenly, he wasn’t. His opaque resignation statement hints coyly at the possibility he’d watched one too many Harvey Weinstein films, but an article in the Scottish Review is sceptical that’s the real cause. The writer finds the opacity of Mark’s resignation statement as nothing compared to his prior attempt to explain how Named Person should work:

It is excruciatingly bad. It shows no feeling for the English language or even for the meaning of words.

but he tries to be charitable

It may have been written by a civil servant

Welcome to Scotland today, where political observers rationally speculate whether the plea of Harvey-esque behaviour is just the cover-up for the real reason why the man literally in charge of the wellbeing of the young must resign in haste.

Meanwhile, the Spectator seems to think that another brilliant idea of Scot natz educators has run into problems

… a fellow secondary school teacher who, due to unmanageable stress, now tutors young offenders rather than return to the classroom. A once enthusiastic primary teacher who said to me, ‘I’d rather do anything — anything — than go back …’

The intersection(ality?) of maths pie charts with Shakespeare’s plays is, I confess, one I did not see coming.