Bashing the 'boomers': Amongst the wittiest of American writers, P. J. O'Rourke turns his laser-like humour on his own kind - the so-called 'baby boomer generation' in America. He knows where-of he writes because he is, well, a less-than-proud member of it! His opening paragraph gives you the flavour:
We are the generation that changed everything. Of all the eras and epochs of Americans, ours is the one that made the biggest impression—on ourselves. That's an important accomplishment, because we're the generation that created the self, made the firmament of the self, divided the light of the self from the darkness of the self, and said, "Let there be self." If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you may have noticed this yourself.
There's poor and then there's, like, er, really, really poor: I shall forever remain grateful to Mr. O'Rourke who, in one of his books, provided me with the answer to a question I had asked constantly on various Left-wing blogs, that is, how exactly and precisely do you define 'poverty'? Lefties never stop prating about poverty but most of them seemed to think that living in a council flat on benefits and eating KFC three times a day is real poverty. O'Rourke, who has seen the grim reality in various parts of the world, gave this definition - no chickens! According to him, just about everywhere you go in the world's impoverished locations you will usually see a few chickens scratching around and you will know that whilst life is tough it is not totally lost. It's when there are no chickens to be seen that you have the stark proof of real poverty.
A right royal double-act: I am more and more impressed with our brace of royal grandsons, Wills and Harry. Like all the very best double-acts they appeal to both sides of our sentiments. Wills satisfies that part of us that understands that good sense and good behaviour are re-enforced by a good marriage and fatherhood. Harry, on the other hand, appeals to the 'wannabe' playboy in us all as he parties and shags for Britain whilst - and this is important - he does some time up the 'sharp-end' in Afghanistan and then takes part in some tough charity events, like trudging across Antarctica. Her Maj, of course, has been absolutely brilliant as Queen and if and when Charles takes over in his dotage he and his eccentricities will be looked on with fondness. By then Wills will be fully matured, and no doubt some American heiress will have pinned Harry down, so all's well with the Royal family - God bless 'em!
Bloody computers! I have remarked before on the unmitigated catastrophe that would ensue following a cyber attack. I don't think any of us have any real idea of just how much of our modern lives are utterly and totally dependent on the constant stream of 'mega-ga-zillions' of noughts and ones that go to make up 'information technology'. This week we have had two tiny reminders - 'tiny' because they are as nothing compared to a full shut down - when a bank's computer system went tits-up and then yesterday the air traffic control system followed suit. Instead of wasting money on two useless aircraft carriers the MoD would be better employed spending the money on cyber security systems. But then, when did they ever plan for the future war as opposed to the last one?!
Never trust the experts: Of course, by and large we do because we have no alternative but in a sea of uncertainty it never does any harm to cling to a buoy of scepticism. I am reminded of this by memories from two months ago when the 'footie' season opened and all, not just some but all, the experts on 'TOOOOORKSPOOOOORT' laid into M. Hulot, ooops, pardonnez-moi, I mean Arsene Wenger, the French manager of Arsenal F.C. and accused him of being a short-sighted (well, to be fair he never sees any of the fouls committed by his players but can spot an opposition penalty at 50 yards!), tight-fisted, stubborn, old fool who never spends enough on new players to refresh his team and they all predicted disaster. As of now (15.15 hrs.) his team is top of the table with four points more than his immediate rivals and with a match in hand, and after this evening he could be seven points ahead. As he might put it, "Celui qui rira le dernier ne comprend pas la blague!"
Film of the week: Not to be missed - and that's an order! On BBC1, Tuesday evening at 11.40pm, The Painted Veil. Based on the Somerset Maugham story, it is absolutely terrific - and not just the jaw-dropping scenery to be seen in the China scenes. A tale of moral weakness eventually reconciled by greater strengths. You are not to miss this film and you may have to write an essay on it Wednesday morning! Those of you living in Australia are excused!
Vermeer: Artist or Artificer? I have mentioned before my coolness towards the paintings of Vermeer which was enforced by reading that he, and some of the other 'masters', had used the camera obscura to aid their apparantly 'amazing' technique particularly in regard to perspective. Courtesy of the indispensable Arts & Letters Daily I have just read a fascinating article in Vanity Fair describing the activities of a certain Tim Jenison who can only be described as a monumental polymath. I hadn't realised that much of the, er, 'Arts' world were still adamant in their refusal to accept that Vermeer and his ilk had used anything other than their genius in executing their paintings. However, Mr. Jenison (with the aid of Penn and Teller, the famous magicians) has demonstrated exactly how Vermeer pulled off the trick. Worth reading!
No more rumbles today!