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Saturday, 01 March 2014

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Now then, Duffers, your having touched on swots, I must tell you of my new resolution. Each week I'll set you a reading assignment, and an essay. If you don't do this "prep" you will suffer from condign punishment.

Reading: you are to scoot to your public library and turn to p6 of the current TLS. There you will find a long letter on Mr WS. Read, mark, and inwardly digest its last para.

Writing: you are to read the fascinating letter on the Malayan Emergency on p4 of the current LRB. (Also available here http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n05/letters) Write an essay on said events, setting out your no doubt perspicacious views.

We had their equivalent in the 1950's. What happened?

No sooner said than done, Headmaster! Where shall I begin? Well, obviously, as a well-disciplined pupil, with a 'thank you' because I read another review of that book a few weeks ago and meant to buy it. Alas, within a few days I had forgotten the title and where I had read the review! So, thanks to your nudge I am now reminded and 'Mr. Amazon & Co.' will earn a few more bucks.

The 'business', and in some ways it is a 'business', of transforming one's self into another 'self' is, when you think about it, very peculiar and it gives rise to all sorts of deeper reflections on what precisely 'self' is, which is why, I guess, I tried to avoid such potentially disturbing thoughts when I was acting. Even so, when I delivered Falstaff's awful lines, like: "I will turn diseases into commodity" or "Now all the laws of England are at my command", then 98% of me really *was* that fat, evil rascal. At least, I thought so, but here the actor meets the deep unknown, you can never be sure whether the audience thought you were!

The 'Malayan Emergency', about which I know next to nothing will have to await further research but rest assured, Headmaster, it will be in a post up above fairly soon.

I think, Demetrius, the whole subject has risen to astronomical levels of complexity which, as I point out above, is way over the heads of most of our Brass, and, of course, the 'cyber nerds' can now earn fifty times the money in 'civvie street'!

Oh, if you know nowt about the ME you may change the topic for one of your choice.

How about this? What the devil is this about?
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2570996/At-27-dead-109-injured-gang-knife-wielding-men-attack-train-station-China.html

Well for a start I should think letting the soldiers, sailors and fly-boys have their own uncoordinated attempts would be totally hopeless and a gift to the baddies - whoever they might be. Those folk in the West Country do know a thing or two and yes the subject is v complex.

Then there is 'what do you expect to achieve?'. I reckon it would not be easy to 'reduce a society to chaos' by purely cyber means. For a start the gas, leccy and water infrastructure is easily protected if you choose to although Smart Meters look a threat/means of control but only the little people have those.

Despite the fuss about those wicked Chinese 'getting at' our security it turns out that the Americans are a far worse threat and American equipment and software is reportedly riddled with loopholes and backdoors. Indeed there are concerns that the entire chip fabrication industry could be subverted already - but this is known about and could be controlled by using 'simpler' kit. The real fun will start when those carefully conceived loopholes and backdoors start being used against their inventors.

But are the electronic spies now a busted flush? Surely every diplomat, bureaucrat, politician and terrorist knows the basic rules by now and knows the very advanced tricks used - so don't use anything electronic, back to the methods of le Carre (and don't use Amazon, pay cash) - unless you want to be listened to.

DM, I had no idea when that story first broke but I gather now that it is being filed under 'BIOTM' - 'Blame It On The Muslims'. Rushing around stabbing people is, er, well, so quaintly old-fashioned these days!

Roger you are entirely right in thinking that matters should not be left in the hands of the 'Major Humpty-Dumpty's' which is why I think it should mainly be staffed by reservists from our top IT companies. I have a sneaking suspicion that it would be all too easy to reduce our computer-controlled society to chaos, and certainly it would be a doddle to break down military C and C systems which are almost certainly 20 years out of date.

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