Are our political rats worse than their political rats? When I write "our" I mean mainly British and American because I know more about them than other democracies, and by "their" I mean any of the sundry dictatorships that litter our global pavements like so many dog droppings. I suspect, gloomily, that there isn't too much in the way of difference between them because it seems to me that it is precisely and exactly the same sort of people who go in for politics as a full-time occupation in whatever part of the world they are situated. They all share both that besetting vice of wanting to boss people around and the absolute conviction that they know best. Happily, they mostly also share another characteristic - sublime stupidity. Unhappily, that often makes them "useful idiots" in the hands of people we rarely see but who frequently operate the real levers of power, that is, the senior civil servants, trade union bosses, the generals and admirals, and occasionally, the odd philosopher or two. The great difference between the two types of polity is that in our democratic system we do get the chance every five years to toss the rascals out which at least keeps them slightly honest - not very, but slightly! The people of North Korea, to choose but one from a myriad, have absolutely no chance of giving their politicians a smack and that is why their country resembles Bedlam with the loonies in charge. However, the sophistry employed by our democratic leaders which rarely withstands more than 3.7 seconds of scrutiny is not much of an advert. "Government of the people, by the people, for the people" would only be accurate if you substituted the last two 'peoples' with the word 'politicians'! And anyway, government by the people would be ghastly; all the people I know are more or less clueless not least because they always disagree with me! Need I say more?
Hubble-bubble, Egyptian toil and trouble: There is a fascinating and well-worth reading book review at Democracy Journal by Marc Lynch. He is a middle-east politics swot and he is reviewing a book by Carrie Rosefsky called The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement. In it she describes the development of the movement and the way in which its almost non-stop persecution meant that over the years it retreated even further into dogma whilst persecuting its very own modernisers, and all of that meant that it was totally unfit to govern when Mubarak fell. After decades off shouting slogans the actually very messy business of governing is proving too much for it. Now, facing a hostile electorate, it is wondering whether or not to stick to democratic free elections, whilst its so-called democratic opponents are considering the advantages of an army take-over. Like its northern counterpart, Turkey, Egypt hovers on the cusp. Fascinating to watch, hell to partake!
A history of three beards: As so often I came across this amusing and elegantly written essay via the excellent offices of Arts & Letters Daily. This particular essay was written by Donald Hall, a poet and man of letters - and, no, I hadn't heard of him either although now I wish I had. During his life, he tells us, he grew three beards.
His second wife described the early growth of his beard, thus:
1. A page of exclamation points.
2. A class of cadets at attention.
3. A school of eels.
4. Standing commuters.
5. A bed of nails for the swami.
6. Flagpoles of unknown countries.
7. Centipedes resting on their laurels.
8. The toenails of the face.
Hall is both amusing and shockingly honest. Here he summarises a mutual seduction:
When she left the room to pee, I waited by the bathroom door for her to emerge.
I led her unprotesting to the bedroom, and a few moments later, gaily engaged,
she said, “I want to put my legs around your head.” (It was perfect iambic
pentameter.) When we woke up, we became friends.
At a moment like that only a true poet could be picking up the rhythm of an iambic pentameter. Go give it a read, it's worth it.
'Paddy' Obama falls for the 'Oirish' trick: According to the Paddies, Obama, like every single American president - ever! - is one fourty-seventh, or two twenty-sixths, or, well, indeed to goodness, somethin' or other, part 'Oirish'. Well, as good jokes go it's not bad but any joke told fourty-four times begins to pall.
So the menopause is all men's fault: Why am I not surprised? Everything is our fault according to 'wimmin'. Mind you, this piece of, er, research is based on computer modeling so, like global warming predictions, you can safely ignore it. CBS Pittsburgh reports the story and if you want a change from the wife telling you what else is your fault then give it a read - unlike the nagging at least it's short!
Beach reading: It's bucket-and-spade time again and you will need some good holiday reads, you know, the sort of books that you don't have to keep re-reading in order to follow the thread! I have just finished the latest Harry Bosch tale, as told by Michael Connelly in The Black Box. Harry went off a bit recently but he's back in form with this fairly straighforward police procedural dealing with a 20-year old 'cold case'. The 'Memsahib' bought it for me for my birthday so you can see she knows exacly how low my brow is! I really shouldn't recommend this next one because I'm only on page 79 but I'm lovin' it already! Defending Jacob by William Landay is a combined murder and courtroom legal fight and I just love those stories if they are done well. Landay has been compared by one critic to Scott Turow, than which, etc, etc. Anyway, so far, so excellent but if I am forced to give up at the halfway point I shall apologise!
No more rumbles today.