Category Archives: Philosophy

Ideas, epistemology, theories of human conduct

Dragon Theory of Global Warming

Climate Dragon

I can not take full credit for this innovative line of inquiry into the causes of Global Warming. The idea was proposed by a colleague during the course of a vigorous debate concerning orbital variations of the earth and their linkage to cyclical ice ages and current global warming observations.

The sugestion that global warming is caused primarily by dragons is an interesting one and ought not to be dismissed out of hand.

There are those who do not believe that dragons even exist but that opinion is based solely on the flawed evidence that they have never seen a dragon. This is clearly the kind of narrow minded, short sighted, unimaginative thinking so typical of those smug bubble dwelling liberals. Many natural phenomena are known to exist in spite of their lack of a signature in the visible portion of the electro magnetic spectrum. See Lancelot et al.

All animals, including us and presumably dragons too, exhale CO2 and collectively the amounts are staggering. Human beings alone exhale around 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. But here’s the thing; the carbon exhaled by all animals, including dragons, is the same carbon that was “inhaled” from the atmosphere by the plants they consumed.

This is just as true of carnivores; when we eat meat, we’re still eating the same carbon processed by plants, except that it reaches us after detouring through livestock or edible prey.

The only way to add to the carbon in the atmosphere is to take it from a sequestered source like fossil fuels, and burn it. Now animals are not known to eat coal and neither do they drink oil so they can not be the source of additional CO2 in the atmosphere. Or can they?

Might there be an exception to the lack of observations of carbon consuming fauna? Animals do not normally breath out fire but dragons do. What is the source of that fiery exhalation? Perhaps dragons do eat coal, perhaps they quench their thirst on vast hidden lakes of oil. This could be the key to our future survival. Funds must be allocated immediately to dragon research, we need to locate the dragons and study their metabolisms. Finding their feeding grounds may be the answer to vast new sources of energy without resorting to problematic seismic exploration and drilling.

A good place to start intensive dragon research might be near the sea bounding that misty island of Honnah Lee.

 

Two Romans and a Briton

Did you hear the one about the two Roman soldiers and a Briton watching the chariot races at Londinium ?

Me neither,  but I am sure there was such a story similar to the one told by Billy Connolly about rival fans at a Rangers Vs Celtic match.

I saw the same story recently cast in the form of two Arabs and an American on a plane.

It seems that after takeoff, the American kicked off his shoes and one of the Arabs sitting in a window seat announced that he was going to get a beer. The American, in the aisle seat, said “I’ll get it for you”.

While the American was gone, one of the Arabs spat in the American’s shoe. When the American returned with the beer, the other Arab said “that looks good, I think I’ll have one too.” Again, the American obligingly went to get another beer and the Arab spat in his other shoe.

As the plane began its approach for landing, the American slipped on his shoes and realized what had happened. He looked over at his Arab companions and asked “Why does it have to be this way?. How long must this go on, this fighting between our nations? This hatred? This animosity? This spitting in shoes and pissing in beer?”

This more recent incarnation of a very old joke is interesting in that the story assumes that the “Arabs” are not American and that the American is not Semitic. If the story were just about three guys on a plane, it probably wouldn’t work. The joke depends on the listener supplying the tension by assuming American and Arab stereotypes.

The Billy Connolly version is much funnier and far cleverer. The Connolly version is not merely a funny story about the passions of rival football teams but a brilliant satire ridiculing all conflicts over trivialities.

The earliest version of this satire may be Jonathon Swifts “Gulliver’s Travels” in which the diminutive Lilliputians fought a perpetual war against the equally diminutive Blefuscudians. The casus belli was a difference of opinion over whether a boiled egg ought to be opened at the big end or the little end hence the “bigendians” versus the “littleendians”. This was a biting satire against wars over trivial differences of religious opinion as typified by the early 18th century wars between catholic France and protestant England. Don’t forget that we once burned people alive over differences of religious opinion.

Will we ever stop pissing in each others boots over trivialities? I hope so, but I wont hold my breath.

 

 

 

 

Hate He Said

HATE HE SAID

by Steven Oliver, 24/01/2012

Hate, he said was in my heart
Hate, he said tore us apart
Hate, he said to let it go
Hate, he said but he did not know
That what I had inside of me
Was a sadness born of empathy
That because I did not celebrate
It did not mean I was full of hate
I asked him to just try and see
Through my eyes the tragedy
Of dispossession, of pain, of hurt
Of the red of blood that stained this earth
I mourn for all the lives that were lost
I mourn for what this country cost
I mourn for how we came to be
For the end does not justify the means
It’s in the past he said, move on
Why mourn for something so long gone?
I looked at him and came to say,
Do you think we should forget about ANZAC day?
It’s not the same was his retort
I said wait a minute, give it some thought

People died while fighting for their land
Defending it from a foreign hand
Make no mistake there was a war
That had been fought on these very shores
A war that didn’t always discriminate
Where the elderly or infants could meet the same fate
As those who fought to protect them so
And that’s why we should never let go
Never forget what price was paid
For us to live as we do today
He looked at me quite seriously
Said he celebrates because we’re free
He celebrates our democracy
And everything great in this country
I said, that’s fine, I get that, it’s clear
Just please don’t forget how we got here
Just take a moment to think it through
What price was paid for me and you
To live in this country as we do
Don’t take for granted the sacrifice
Both of land and of life
We need to remember those who died
Not let their legacy be swept aside
You got an apology, he said
It talked about loss and mentioned the dead

What more do you want? He asked of me,
And so I replied in the hope he would see
We have a day for Australia, the Queen
For New Years and Christmas and all those between
Like Labour and Easter, the ANZAC Parade
And just what the hell is Boxing Day?
There’s even a day that we have for the Shows
But nothing that speaks of my people’s woes
A national day to acknowledge the cause
To acknowledge all that has happened before
And I don’t mean NAIDOC I mean something more
Where the whole nation stops, like it does for a horse!
A day, is that too much to ask?
To remind us, don’t ignore the past
He processed my words and looked at the ground
We both sat in silence, then there was a sound
A sound that seemed like heaven to me
A sound of two words that said, I agree!
We talked some more as the day came to end
And despite our differences I’d made a new friend
He understood as the day came to night
That I needed some things in this country made right
And because I did not celebrate
It did not mean I was full of hate.

© Steven Oliver
Australian
24/01/2012

Listen To Steven Oliver as he recites his poem.

Anatomy of a Lie

Trump has said so many things that appear to be false, from the trivia of his inauguration crowd size to a very serious accusation of criminal activity on the part of President Obama.

Is Donald Trump a liar? Is The President of The United States of America delusional? Does he have deep insights beyond the ken of other mere mortals? Or is he just a lucky fool hitherto protected from the consequences of his own foolishness by immense inherited wealth?

This is a detailed time-line, with supporting links, of just one of his lies/delusions/deep insights.

A time line of the wire tapping saga with acknowledgement to an original story from ABC News by Veronica Stracqualursi and Adam Kelsey Mar 20, 2017

March 04 2017
Trump fired off a tweet from his Mar-a-Lago estate accusing Obama of wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower in New York during the election.

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
7:35 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Trump then followed up with three more tweets, comparing the allegations to President Nixon’s Watergate scandal.

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!
7:49 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
7:52 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
8:02 PM – 4 Mar 2017

Comment: These tweets are more than likely complete twaddle and that conclusion was more or less obvious on the day they were sent. Here’s why.

March 05 2017
FBI Director James Comey asked the Department of Justice to publicly rebut Trump’s allegations out of concern that the president’s tweets might make it look as though the bureau acted improperly.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced in a statement that Trump requested that congressional intelligence committees “determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016” as part of their investigations of Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. election.

March 06 2017
Former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said that “there was no wiretap against Trump Tower during the campaign conducted by any part of the National Intelligence Community … including the FBI.”

Sean Spicer said in an audio-only gaggle: “I think that there’s no question that something happened. The question is, is it surveillance, is it a wiretap, or whatever?”

When asked for clarification about whether Trump believed the FBI or Obama committed criminal acts in a potential pursuit of surveillance, as well as the appropriateness of the sitting president making such a public charge, Spicer repeatedly said that Trump’s tweets “speak for themselves.”

Comment: Spicer later explained that ” wire tapping”  does not necessarily mean “wiretapping

March 07 2017
Another White House press briefing led to questions about the promised investigation into the claims and Comey’s reported request made in private that the Justice Department publicly shoot down Trump’s claims.

Spicer said that “the president has not” asked Comey whether he was wiretapped and stands by his March 5 statement on the direction of the inquiry, saying, “I think the smartest and most deliberative way to address this situation is to ask the House and Senate intelligence committees who are already in the process of looking into this.”

The press secretary was also asked whether Trump has “any regrets” about making the accusation.

“No,” Spicer said, “Absolutely not.”

March 10 2017
The House Intelligence Committee formally requested that the Justice Department turn over any documentary evidence, including applications, orders or warrants, by Monday, March 13. This deadline would later be extended to March 20.

March 12 2017
In answer to a direct question: “Do you know whether Trump Tower was wire tapped?” Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said: “What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other,” Conway went on to say. “You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets — any number of ways — and microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera.”

March 13 2017
Spicer launched a defense of Trump’s tweets centered around punctuation, calling attention, in the day’s press briefing, to the quotation marks employed by the president.

“I think if you look at the president’s tweet, he said very clearly “wiretapping” in quotes,” Spicer said, indicating that Trump meant the word as a reference to overall reconnaissance.

“The president was very clear in his tweet that it was wiretapping, that that spans a whole host of surveillance types of options,” Spicer said.

Two out of Trump’s four tweets on the subject do not include the quotation marks, however, and he specifically refers to his “phones” in one.

Spicer also cautioned the media about reading too literally into the claim of Obama’s involvement:

“He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally.”

The Department of Justice also asked for more time in meeting the House Intelligence Committee’s request for evidence of Trump’s wiretapping claim. The committee set the new deadline for before their March 20 hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. election.

March 14 2017
In light of the fact that the DOJ was given an additional week to gather evidence on surveillance, reporters continue to ask Spicer whether Trump feels assured in his position.

“I think he feels very confident that it will ultimately come to this — will vindicate him,” Spicer said during the press briefing.

Fox News segment aired in which legal commentator and Fox News regular Andrew Napolitano accuses the British GCHQ of spying on Trump for President Obama.

Comment: Napolitano’s accusations were subsequently disowned by FOX News and Napolitano himself was eventually suspended from FOX.

March 15 2017

The House Intelligence Committee leaders announced they didn’t find any evidence that Trump’s Manhattan office was wiretapped by Obama.

“We don’t have any evidence that that took place … I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif alongside Democratic ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff of California  during a Capitol Hill news conference .

Nunes also said it depends on whether you interpret Trump’s tweets literally.

“I think the challenge here is that President Obama wouldn’t physically go over and wiretap Trump Tower,” Nunes said. “So now you have to decide … are you going to take the tweets literally? And if you are, then clearly the president was wrong.”

Nunes continued, “But if you’re not going to take the tweets literally, and if there’s a concern that the president has about other people, other surveillance activities looking at him or his associates, either appropriately or inappropriately, we want to find that out.”

In an interview with Fox News that aired Wednesday night, Trump commented for the first time on the wiretapping allegations.

Trump explained that his claims originated from “reading about things” and news reports. He pointed to a New York Times article and a Fox News segment, though neither reports that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

When asked why he didn’t reach out to intelligence agencies to verify his claims, Trump said he didn’t “want to do anything that’s going to violate any strength of an agency.”

He added, “I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

March 16 2017
Senate Intelligence Committee leaders — Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va. — released a joint statement: “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.”

Spicer defended Trump during the press briefing and said the Congressional intelligence committees’ statements were not based on investigative work.

“They’re not findings. There’s a statement out today they have not begun this,” Spicer said. “Two days ago the Department of Justice asked for an additional week. The statement clearly says at this time that they don’t believe that.”

Spicer also launched into a lengthy explanation, citing various news reports that inspired Trump’s March 4 tweets and Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano’s suggestion that Obama used Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters to spy on Trump.

“The bipartisan leaders of the Intelligence Committee would not have made the statement they made without having been fully briefed by the appropriate authorities,” Sen. Warner’s spokeswoman fired back at Spicer in a statement after the press briefing.
March 17 2017
The Justice Department announced it was complying with the Intelligence and Justice Committees’ requests for information on surveillance efforts, but did not provide detail on the extent of the information.

Word of the Justice Department’s actions came just as Trump was holding a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which he was asked by German media about the claims.

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,” Trump said of Merkel, referring to the revelation first reported in 2013 by a German news magazine that a document apparently from a U.S. National Security Agency database indicated Merkel’s cellphone was first listed as a target in 2002.

March 20 2017
FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on Monday that he had “no information that supports those tweets” alleging that Obama wiretapped Trump, adding that the Department of Justice asked him to convey that it also does not have any supporting information.

“I’m not going to try and characterize the tweets themselves,” he said. “All I can tell you is we have no information that supports them.”

Comey went on to describe the procedures that must be followed for any surveillance to be approved.

“No individual in the United States can direct electronic surveillance of anyone,” he said, saying “no President could” unilaterally order a wiretap. “It has to go through an application process, ask a judge. The judge can then make the order.”

 

Trump “Tapp” Twaddle

Trump’s “Tapp” Tweet is Twaddle

Shamelessly plagiarized from Huff post article 03/08/2017
Written by Andy Ostroy.

 

Let’s assess the reasons why President Trump’s incendiary accusation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign is absolute twaddle:

1. We assume Trump has evidence because if he doesn’t then he’s just committed an unconscionable, possibly libelous/treasonous/impeachable act by blatantly lying about the former pres;

2. So if he does have evidence, why is he demanding an investigation? We assume he got his evidence from the FBI or Justice Department, and if so he already knows/has the answer;

3. If he doesn’t have the answer, and truly needs a Congressional investigation, then he doesn’t have the evidence and intentionally made this baseless, unsubstantiated claim;

4. If he doesn’t have the evidence, as president, he can make a call and in a matter of minutes get from FBI, and Justice whether or not the FISA court did in fact issue a warrant to wiretap him, and why. But again, if the answer is it didn’t, then his accusation is an outright lie;

5. And if he doesn’t make that call, why not? If he really wanted to find the truth, why hasn’t he already made that call? Why choose not to get a quick answer to confirm this very serious charge if it’s truly the truth he seeks? Unless his accusation is a calculated lie designed to distract away from #RussiaGate?

6. If FISA did issue a warrant, we have to assume Trump already knew that, which is why he then Tweeted about it. So again, if he already knows, why is he pretending he doesn’t know and is demanding an investigation? Especially one that wastes a ton of taxpayer money?;

7. By law, no president can “tapp” anyone’s phones. FBI or Justice, based on reasonable suspicion/evidence, makes the request to FISA independent of the White House. So while Trump’s accusation could possibly end up having merit, it’s not Obama doing the tapping, and therefore it’s not something Trump should want to be publicizing;

8. If FISA did issue a warrant, that would be because FBI or Justice proved to FISA that they had sufficient evidence that Trump colluded with Russia, which is why they needed to “tapp” his phones in the first place;

9. By Tweeting this information, Trump in effect, because he’s the president, served to declassify what previously was classified;

10. Trump, who just days ago ranted like a maniac about “unnamed sources,” Tweeted his treasonous bullshit about Obama based on…unnamed sources;

11. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated last weekend that there were no FISA warrants issued during his tenure at NI to “tapp” Trump Tower phones;

So, what can we conclude? That Trump is a liar who made up his evidence-free accusation. Or, if his claim of being wiretapped ends up being true, Trump, as everyone suspects, has been co-opted by the Russians, which is why FBI/Justice, not Obama, sought the wiretap. Either way, Trump is in a heap of shit, and too ignorant and tone-deaf to understand the gravity of that early morning weekend Tweet. And that, this time, he may have gone too far…

Tree of Liberty

This text is from a letter written by Jefferson to William Stephens Smith from Paris on Nov. 13. 1787. The spelling has been preserved but I have arbitrarily split the text into paragraphs for easier reading. I have put some of the text in bold.

I do not know whether it is to yourself or Mr. Adams I am to give my
thanks for the copy of the new constitution. I beg leave through you to place them where due. It will be yet three weeks before I shall receive them from America. There are very good articles in it: and very bad. I do not know which preponderate.

What we have lately read in the history of Holland, in the chapter on the Stadtholder, would have sufficed to set me against a Chief magistrate eligible for a long duration, if I had ever been disposed towards one: and what we have always read of the elections of Polish kings should have forever excluded the idea of one continuable for life.

Wonderful is the effect of impudent and persevering lying. The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, and what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves.

Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion.[1]

The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.

We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.

The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted.

Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, Paris, 13 Nov. 1787[2]

Catch 22: Loyalty Oaths

catch22

This is an excerpt from Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel “Catch 22”.

Catch 22 is probably my favorite novel of all time, I have bought it at least 5 times and read it many times more than that. Catch 22 is one of those rare books that you can open at any page and just start reading, it really doesn’t matter where you start so long as you read it all.

This is a an excerpt in which Heller satirizes the American passion for exaggerated public displays of patriotism. Heller is often subtle, but not here. He  lampoons ideological purity and faux patriotism with sledge hammer blows of unmitigated derision. He laughs openly at those sad people who gather reassurance from being surrounded by identical little clones.

The book was written half a century ago but never was a line more relevant to today’s fact free political discourse than: “You never heard him denying it until we began accusing him, did you?”

Read on and enjoy this excerpt from one of the greatest satirical novels ever written.

QUOTE

When fellow administrative officers expressed astonishment at Colonel Cathcart’s choice of Major Major, Captain Black muttered that there was something funny going on; when they speculated on the political value of Major Major’s resemblance to Henry Fonda, Captain Black asserted that Major Major really was Henry Fonda; and when they remarked that Major Major was somewhat odd, Captain Black announced that he was a Communist.

“They’re taking over everything,” he declared rebelliously. “Well, you fellows can stand around and let them if you want to, but I’m not going to. I’m going to do something about it. From now on I’m going to make every son of a bitch who comes to my intelligence tent sign a loyalty oath. And I’m not going to let that bastard Major Major sign one even if he wants to.”

Almost overnight the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was in full flower, and Captain Black was enraptured to discover himself spearheading it. He had really hit on something. All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third loyalty oath for Lieutenant Balkington, the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around there was another loyalty oath to be signed. They signed a loyalty oath to get their pay from the finance officer, to obtain their PX supplies, to have their hair cut by the Italian barbers. To Captain Black, every officer who supported his Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a competitor, and he planned and plotted twenty-four hours a day to keep one step ahead. He would stand second to none in his devotion to country. When other officers had followed his urging and introduced loyalty oaths of their own, he went them one better by making every son of a bitch who came to his intelligence tent sign two loyalty oaths, then three, then four; then he introduced the pledge of allegiance, and after that “The Star-Spangled Banner,” one chorus, two choruses, three choruses, four choruses. Each time Captain Black forged ahead of his competitors, he swung upon them scornfully for their failure to follow his example. Each time they followed his example, he retreated with concern and racked his brain for some new stratagem that would enable him to turn upon them scornfully again.

Without realizing how it had come about, the combat men in the squadron discovered themselves dominated by the administrators appointed to serve them. They were bullied, insulted, harassed and shoved about all day long by one after the other. When they voiced objection, Captain Black replied that people who were loyal would not mind signing all the loyalty oaths they had to. To anyone who questioned the effectiveness of the loyalty oaths, he replied that people who really did owe allegiance to their country would be proud to pledge it as often as he forced them to. And to anyone who questioned the morality, he replied that “The Star-Spangled Banner” was the greatest piece of music ever composed. The more loyalty oaths a person signed, the more loyal he was; to Captain Black it was as simple as that, and he had Corporal Kolodny sign hundreds with his name each day so that he could always prove he was more loyal than anyone else.

“The important thing is to keep them pledging,” he explained to his cohorts. “It doesn’t matter whether they mean it or not. That’s why they make little kids pledge allegiance even before they know what ‘pledge’ and ‘allegiance’ means.”

To Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a glorious pain in the ass, since it complicated their task of organizing the crews for each combat mission. Men were tied up all over the squadron signing, pledging and singing, and the missions took hours longer to get under way. Effective emergency action became impossible, but Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren were both too timid to raise any outcry against Captain Black, who scrupulously enforced each day the doctrine of “Continual Reaffirmation” that he had originated, a doctrine designed to trap all those men who had become disloyal since the last time they had signed a loyalty oath the day before. It was Captain Black who came with advice to Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren as they pitched about in their bewildering predicament. He came with a delegation and advised them bluntly to m ake each man sign a loyalty oath before allowing him to fly on a combat mission.

“Of course, it’s up to you,” Captain Black pointed out. “Nobody’s trying to pressure you. But everyone else is making them sign loyalty oaths, and it’s going to look mighty funny to the F.B.I. if you two are the only ones who don’t care enough about your country to make them sign loyalty oaths, too. If you want to get a bad reputation, that’s nobody’s business but your own. All we’re trying to do is help.”

Milo was not convinced and absolutely refused to deprive Major Major of food, even if Major Major was a Communist, which Milo secretly doubted. Milo was by nature opposed to any innovation that threatened to disrupt the normal course of affairs. Milo took a firm moral stand and absolutely refused to participate in the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade until Captain Black called upon him with his delegation and requested him to.

“National defense is everybody’s job,” Captain Black replied to Milo’s objection. “And this whole program is voluntary, Milo – don’t forget that. The men don’t have to sign Piltchard and Wren’s loyalty oath if they don’t want to. But we need you to starve them to death if they don’t. It’s just like Catch-22. Don’t you get it? You’re not against Catch-22, are you?”

Doc Daneeka was adamant.

“What makes you so sure Major Major is a Communist?”

You never heard him denying it until we began accusing him, did you? And you don’t see him signing any of our loyalty oaths.”

“You aren’t letting him sign any.”

“Of course not,” Captain Black explained. “That would defeat the whole purpose of our crusade. Look, you don’t have to play ball with us if you don’t want to. But what’s the point of the rest of us working so hard if you’re going to give Major Major medical attention the minute Milo begins starving him to death? I just wonder what they’re going to think up at Group about the man who’s undermining our whole security program. They’ll probably transfer you to the Pacific.”

Doc Daneeka surrendered swiftly. “I’ll go tell Gus and Wes to do whatever you want them to.”

Up at Group, Colonel Cathcart had already begun wondering what was going on.

“It’s that idiot Black off on a patriotism binge,” Colonel Korn reported with a smile. “I think you’d better play ball with him for a while, since you’re the one who promoted Major Major to squadron commander.”

“That was your idea,” Colonel Cathcart accused him petulantly. “I never should have let you talk me into it.”

“And a very good idea it was, too,” retorted Colonel Korn, “since it eliminated that superfluous major that’s been giving you such an awful black eye as an administrator. Don’t worry, this will probably run its course soon. The best thing to do now is send Captain Black a letter of total support and hope he drops dead before he does too much damage.” Colonel Korn was struck with a whimsical thought. “I wonder! You don’t suppose that imbecile will try to turn Major Major out of his trailer, do you?”

“The next thing we’ve got to do is turn that bastard Major Major out of his trailer,” Captain Black decided. “I’d like to turn his wife and kids out into the woods, too. But we can’t. He has no wife and kids. So we’ll just have to make do with what we have and turn him out. Who’s in charge of the tents?”

“He is.”

“You see?” cried Captain Black. “They’re taking over everything! Well, I’m not going to stand for it. I’ll take this matter right to Major —— de Coverley himself if I have to. I’ll have Milo speak to him about it the minute he gets back from Rome.”

Captain Black had boundless faith in the wisdom, power and justice of Major —— de Coverley, even though he had never spoken to him before and still found himself without the courage to do so. He deputized Milo to speak to Major —— de Coverley for him and stormed out impatiently as he waited for the tall executive officer to return. Along with everyone else in the squadron, he lived in profound awe and reverence of the majestic, white-haired major with the craggy face and Jehovan bearing, who came back from Rome finally with an inuured eye inside a new celluloid eye patch and smashed his whole Glorious Crusade to bits with a single stroke.

Milo carefully said nothing when Major —— de Coverley stepped into the mess hall with his fierce and austere dignity the day he returned and found his way blocked by a wall of officers waiting in line to sign loyalty oaths. At the far end of the food counter, a group of men who had arrived earlier were pledging allegiance to the flag, with trays of food balanced in one hand, in order to be allowed to take seats at the table. Already at the tables, a group that had arrived still earlier was singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in order that they might use the salt and pepper and ketchup there. The hubub began to subside slowly as Major —— de Coverley paused in the doorway with a frown of puzzled disapproval, as though viewing something bizarre. He started forward in a straight line, and the wall of officers before him parted like the Red Sea. Glancing neither left nor right, he strode indomitably up to the steam counter and, in a clear, full-bodied voice that was gruff with age and resonant with ancient eminence and authority, said:

“Gimme eat.”

Instead of eat, Corporal Snark gave Major —— de Coverley a loyalty oath to sign. Major —— de Coverley swept it away with mighty displeasure the moment he recognized what it was, his good eye flaring up blindingly with fiery disdain and his enormous old corrugated face darkening in mountainous wrath.

“Gimme eat, I said,” he ordered loudly in harsh tones that rumbled ominously through the silent tent like claps of distant thunder.

Corporal Snark turned pale and began to tremble. He glanced toward Milo pleadingly for guidance. For several terrible seconds there was not a sound. Then Milo nodded.

“Give him eat,” he said.

Corporal Snark began giving Major —— de Coverley eat. Major —— de Coverley turned from the counter with his tray full and came to a stop. His eyes fell on the groups of other officers gazing at him in mute appeal, and, with righteous belligerence, he roared:

“Give everybody eat!”

“Give everybody eat!” Milo echoed with joyful relief, and the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade came to an end.

UNQUOTE

Foot notes:

The novel was published in hardback in 1961 to mixed reviews, with the Chicago Sun-Times calling it “the best American novel in years”, while other critics derided it as “disorganized, unreadable, and crass”. It sold only 30,000 hardback copies in the United States in its first year of publication.

Reaction was very different in the UK, where, within one week of its publication, the novel was number one on the bestseller lists. After its release in paperback in October 1962, however, Catch-22caught the imaginations of many baby boomers, who identified with the novel’s anti-war sentiments.The book went on to sell 10 million copies in the United States.

The novel’s title became a standard term in English and other languages for a dilemma with no easy way out. Now considered a classic, the book was listed at number 7 on Modern Library’s list of the top 100 novels of the century. The United States Air Force Academy uses the novel to “help prospective officers recognize the dehumanizing aspects of bureaucracy.”

The movie rights to the novel were purchased in 1962, and, combined with his royalties, made Heller a millionaire. The film, which was directed by Mike Nichols and starred Alan Arkin, Jon Voight and Orson Welles, was not released until 1970.

Post-truth

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

New Zealand’s recent earthquakes being caused by seismic boats reminded me of similar nonsense from forty years ago.

“Six 1000 m high towers monitor dynamite explosions as Giant seismic ship drills on the Great Barrier Reef”.

So ran the headline in a Queensland newspaper back in the late seventies. I was the Party Manager of the cited giant seismic ship apparently wreaking such cavalier havoc on the barrier reef. The giant seismic boat in question was the GSI operated M/V Eugene McDermott, I’m not sure that McD’s 150 foot length qualified it as a giant of the seas but I do know for an absolute certainty that it conducted no surveys on the Barrier reef. All of us know that seismic boats do not do anything so crass as to drill for oil, and marine seismic exploration had long spurbed the use of dynamite.

What about 1000 m towers monitoring none existant dynamite explosions? the 1975 CN Tower in Toronto at 553 m held the record back then and wasn’t surpassed in height for 30 years when the 829.8 m Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai. Our Argo navigation system did use 100 foot towers however.

We docked in Cairns a few days after the story was published and a reporter came aboard with a request to interview me. Now talking to the press was frowned upon by GSI but I just couldn’t resist it. I asked the gentleman from the press if he would like to see our drilling equipmnt he appeared to be delighted at the prospect. I took him to the gunshack and showed him our drill press sitting on the work bench. I advised him that this was the biggest drill on board, I further advised him that if he didn’t fuck off immediately he would be thrown overboard and so off he fucked.

The Oxford English Dictionary has recently named “post-truth” the 2016 international word of the year after its usage spiked around the Brexit vote and the US election. Lies, bullshit and lazy reporting have sadly been a staple of the press for a long long time.

Flight 9

Flight 9
Simulated image of Flight 9

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them under control. I trust you are not in too much distress.

Such was Captain Moody’s understated announcement from the cockpit of British Airways Flight 9 on 24 June 1982 in the ash clouded skies over Indonesia.

True to his word, Capt Moody and his crew began four engine restart procedures and repeated them over and over again as their stricken aircraft glided inexorably towards disaster. Finally; after 14 minutes of incredible airmanship and dogged persistence they got the engines running again and safely landed their aircraft at Jakarta International Airport.

The passengers owed their lives to the crew’s refusal to give up on what another flight crew might have considered an impossible task. Another crew might have thrown their hands in the air and accepted the inevitability of their fate with the thought that “we are in God’s hands now”, perhaps muttering “In sha’Allah” or some such.

I don’t want to fly behind any crew that is willing to abdicate their responsibility to some Mickey Mouse imaginary co-pilot at some higher altitude. I want a crew that believes in itself and in its skill to get me and my fellow passengers back on the ground.

Same goes for the planet, If you think some sky pilot is in control then get the hell back to your church, mosque, tabernacle or whatever and let those with actual knowledge get on with doing their damdest to get us all to a safe landing.

Vote Bernie in California

This  by Robert Reich

This morning I heard from an old friend here in California who said “I’m for Bernie, but he doesn’t really have a chance anymore. So isn’t my vote for him in the California primary just prolonging the agony, and indirectly helping Trump?”

I told him no, and gave him four reasons why he needs to vote for Bernie Tuesday and get others to vote for him as well:

1. True, the electoral numbers are daunting, and Bernie faces an uphill task, but a win Tuesday will help enormously. One out of 8 Americans lives in California.

2. Regardless of the electoral math, Bernie’s candidacy has never been mainly about Bernie. It’s been about a movement to reclaim our democracy and economy from the moneyed interests. And a win for Bernie in the California primary (and in other Tuesday primaries in Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota South Dakota, and New Mexico) will send an even clearer signal to Washington, the Democratic Party, and the establishment as a whole, that a large and growing share of Americans is determined to wrest back control.

3. The goals Bernie has enunciated in his campaign are essential to our future: getting big money out of politics and reversing widening inequality; moving toward a single-payer healthcare system and free tuition at public universities (both financed by higher taxes on the richest Americans and on Wall Street); a $15 minimum wage; decriminalization of marijuana and an end to mass incarceration; a new voting rights act; immigration reform; and a carbon tax. All will require continued mobilization at all levels of government. A win Tuesday will help continue and build on that mobilization.

4. Bernie’s successes don’t help Trump. To the contrary, they are bringing into politics millions of young voters whose values are opposite to those of Trump’s. Bernie has received majorities from voters under age 45 (as well as from independents). He’s won even larger majorities among young people under 30 – including young women and Latinos. Many have been inspired and motivated by Bernie to become political activists – the last thing Trump and the Republicans want. Those young people and independents need to be heard from Tuesday.

What do you think?