People who live in glasshouses

January 21, 2016 Leave a comment

I don’t usually get involved in politics but, like many, I was appalled at the murder of Alexander Litvinenko ten years ago.

Of course it’s wrong that a state can authorise and order the assassination of an individual, especially when that individual is the citizen of another country and the assassination takes place in the territory of that other country.

But even if it goes unacknowledged, all states do it. Always have, and probably always will. And as long as the order can be credibly denied, until recently states have got away with it.

We may castigate Russia, and Vladimir Putin in particular, for ordering the assassination of Litvinenko in 2006. We may mock him behind our hands for getting caught (but then perhaps he feels strong enough not to care?). The UK feels it needs to punish Russia; in Parliament today, Theresa May described the assassination as “a blatant and unacceptable breach of the most fundamental tenets of international law and of civilised behaviour”.

However, since 9/11, and in particular since the Obama Administration came to power in the USA, America – and by direct association the UK – has been openly assassinating (“targeted killing”) its “enemies” on foreign soil by drone strikes.

Didn’t someone once say something about living in glasshouses and throwing stones?

What drives me mad: signs that tell lies …

January 10, 2014 Leave a comment

… and those who write them.

I’m driving along the A-something-or-other, a couple of hours into a longish journey, and my tongue begins to feel too big for my mouth. A cup of tea would go down very nicely – and aha! what’s this? A sign that announces

TEAS NEXT LAYBY
1/4 MILE

 
But when I reach that next layby a quarter of a mile down the road, what do I see? Nada. Nothing, that is, except a litter of styrofoam teacups strewn around a torn-apart-by-foxes black bin bag. Grrr.
Read more…

More on bureaucracy and good governance

Sherard Cowper-Coles at length on what is wrong with the way we are addressing the situation in Afghanistan.

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Do as the Romans did

March 5, 2013 3 comments

Sherard Cowper-Coles, former British Ambassador to Afghanistan, has an interesting plan to achieve longlasting stability in that country.

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Quotable Quote: Technopoly

December 30, 2012 Leave a comment

[B]ecause of its lengthy, intimate, and inevitable relationship with culture, technology does not invite a close examination of its own consequences. It is the kind of friend that asks for trust and obedience, which most people are inclined to give because its gifts are truly bountiful. But, of course, there is a dark side to this friend. Its gifts are not without a heavy cost. Stated in the most dramatic terms, the accusation can be made that the uncontrolled growth of technology destroys the vital sources of our humanity. It creates a culture without a moral foundation. It undermines certain mental processes and social relations that make human life worth living. Technology, in sum, is both friend and enemy.

From: Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992)

Categories: Quotable Quotes

Quotable Quote: Did you ever read what they call Science Fiction?

June 15, 2012 1 comment

In a letter to his literary agent H N Swanson (14 March 1953), Raymond Chandler wrote:

“Did you ever read what they call Science Fiction? It’s a scream. Read more…

April Fool’s Day

April 1, 2012 2 comments

It’s April Fool’s Day.

A dog, a packet of crisps, a bottle of water, the Sunday paper, a trout stream, a herd of Old English White Cattle. Birds in the sky and the whistle of a steam engine in the near distance. Read more…

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