Notre Dame de Paris. The eldest daughter of Rome. Endless masses and hoop-la attracting the faithful, faithless, homeless and the merely curious. Tonight, however, is gala night. His Eminence Andre Vingt-Trois the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris was the Master of Ceremonies at Midnight Mass. I felt it might be quite a trip to trot along, not actually ever having been within pea-shooting range of a man who’s met the Pope. Slipping unnoticed near the front of the assembled multitudes awaiting admission, just as the gigantic, thirteen ton bourdon bell, Emmanuel, woke up all the drunks asleep on the rue de Rivoli, I passed through a rather desultory security check as frozen, disinterested members of the gendarmerie peered briefly into the odd handbag or two. I slipped past them like a spiritual terrorist almost at the head of the line, just missing ‘Adeste Fideles’. The old chap, fetchingly attired in white with little black crosses, wheezed through the liturgy, excellently choreographed, his august presence permanently incense-wreathed. I was surprised he didn’t have an asthma attack. He took the opportunity to address the crowd on the evils of abortion, warming sonorously to his theme not once but on a number of occasions during a twelve minute homily. it occurred to me that the brouillard of holy smoke which quite obviously followed him around wherever he went had had the effect of cosily insulating him against the messier aspects of human reproduction and the prohibitive cost of food, clothing and higher education. The Gipsy was outraged and muttered darkly throughout most of his address about the inappropriateness of celibate old men attempting to lecture the rest of us about the advantages of full quivers. She flawlessly joined in the Credo in Latin, however, which we both found worrying. The music was, of course, outstanding, but I left during Rutter’s “I saw Three Ships”, declining a piece of cake. Organ recital at La Madeleine tomorrow. What fun.
Paris at Christmas is much less exciting than London, provided that said excitement is measured in quantities of tinsel, kerbside Santas fragrant with cheap sherry and mindless, endless repetitions of Frosty the Snowman in the Oxford Street drizzle.
Paris is more restrained and street corners are not routinely bedecked with all manner of non-biodegradable material.Inside Galeries Lafayette, however, it’s quite another matter…
British Christmases were always rather jolly with turkey, mince pies, crackers which often failed to explode and paper hats which fell down over Uncle Dick’s nose as he slept off the excesses in front of the TV at three o’clock watching HM tell us how much she loved being Queen and so on.
Here, we’ll be doing things a little differently and making something special for Christmas Eve which will look a little bit like this. Nice.
Would anybody with a logical turn of mind like to point out the flaw in the reasoning?
He’s real! Santa Claus is in the Scriptures!
There is a prize of a hand-crafted Humility Badge for any reader who can correctly identify a) the passage b) the version and c) the denomination.
The last ‘ho’ in verse 6 has clearly been redacted.
The winner of the Badge will have it taken off him or her for wearing it.
Propaganda might be defined as getting people to believe exactly what you want them to believe by gently but persistently lying to them. When an opinion hardens into a principle which coalesces into a doctrine, the world becomes less flexible, less amenable to change and more susceptible to violent opposition to it. Most people don’t take the time or expend the requisite effort in order to unearth the truth – whatever the truth is. Jack Nicholson’s famous line from ‘A Few Good Men’ still reverberates “You can’t handle the truth!”
The plural ‘you’ perhaps. And, quite probably, we can’t. But Western style democracy gives us the platform from which to try, which is why Wikileaks is tolerated, students can protest loudly over tuition fees and the British prime minister is on record as asserting “I am proud to be a Zionist”.
The long Damoclean shadow which is Iran will present the free world with the next significant Doomsday scenario of the 21st century.
I found these two clips illuminating since they offer two separate propagandist perspectives. Iranium – buttressed by and weighted politically by ‘people who know’, is rebutted by a soft, dewy-eyed, we-wouldn’t-harm-a-fly response, the latter’s effect rather spoiled by images of bloodstained Palestinian children and the inevitable side-swipe at Israel.
Whatever remains of my hot prophetic blood, if not boiling, still gently simmers.
Conversing with a friend today, we were speculating about how ‘leakage’ actually happens, Is it brute force – battering a firewall down by repeated attacks like medieval siege works, hoping to punch holes in the bulwarks and gain entrance by force of arms? Probably not. The likelihood is that leakage takes place by a much more obvious mechanism. Military and diplomatic Internet isn’t the same as the civilian one. ARPANet runs home to mama in the form of the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) which is “a system of interconnected computer networks used by the United States Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of State to transmit classified information (up to and including information classified SECRET) by packet switching over the TCP/IP protocols in a ‘completely secure’ environment”. Thanks, Wiki. It also provides services such as hypertext document access and electronic mail. As such, SIPRNet is the DoD’s classified version of the civilian Internet. Accidental leakage is impossible since there’s no electronic connection between civilian and classified systems and as such it ought to be bomb proof. But it isn’t because people with classified clearance can just plug in a flash drive in a fit of pique and download all they want. PFC Bradley Manning’s motivation for leaking military information from SIPRNET to Wikileaks seems to be down to little more than disillusionment with American foreign policy. On the motivation scale, Manning’s motivation doesn’t seem urgent compared to, say, someone being blackmailed or being motivated by having a gun held to a family member’s head, or tempted by a hot tub full of jewellery and hookers. That’s real motivation. I’m not going to speculate on how much information has leaked from SIPRNET by people being “properly” motivated. But, I suspect that it’s rather a lot…
Bradley Manning was held for a time here in Kuwait, pending further legal proceedings and he faces up to 52 years in jail. The hole in the bucket here is simply giving military personnel with axes to grind a way of grinding them so as to cause a good deal of damage. Manning may pay yet more dearly than he imagined. At least one senator and a congressman have called for the death penalty.
Erich Maria Remarque’s seminal novel about the First World War is mistranslated into English. “All Quiet on the Western Front” in German translates more as “Nothing much happened on the…”
There’s often a sense here of ‘nothing much happening’. It quite gets the juices flowing when something does. Last summer I lent my car to HandyMan, being one of the few apparently trustworthy drivers I know. He told me that he’d run out of gas when the gauge still read 80km left. I nodded and smiled, privately thinking that he had just been careless and it served him right. Until this evening. Wall-to wall correction of exam papers is a dispiriting exercise since one is left with the impression that if what one’s students write down is any guide, one might as well have been lecturing in Vietnamese, thus I thought a trip to the Motor Show in Mishref might be a pleasant diversion. Just as I left the complex to come home, the car coughed apologetically like a dyspeptic sheep, with 98km remaining in the gas tank, and I was left wondering how I and the car could make it home before midnight.
Those who live here will find this hard to believe. An American lady, early thirties, well-presented – you get the idea – driving a brand-new, white Porsche Carrera 911 GT3 (with black leather interior) pulled up, asked if she could help, drove me exhilaratingly fast to the gas station, haggled with an Indian coolie to provide a container for a few litres of gas, dropped me back at my car and I was on my way within half an hour. I was so pumped I exceeded the speed limit in my freshly fuelled vehicle and probably picked up a ticket.
Not much happens here. A couple of throbbing engines from the Motor Show.