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Home | 2018 | March

Scrapbook for March 2018

16.03.2018 – Nerve gas: you ask, we answer.

  • Who was the target? Sergei Skripal? Yulia Skripal? Both of them? Someone else we don't know about? Don't know.
  • If the object was to assassinate someone, why do it like this, in just about the most spectacular and messiest way imaginable? No idea.
  • What was the weapon? A nerve agent? So we are told.
  • How was it administered? No idea.
  • Where was it administered? No idea.
  • Precisely when was it administered? No idea.
  • Where was it made? No idea.
  • Who made it? No idea.
  • Where did it come from? No idea.
  • Who carried out the attack on the ground? No idea.
  • For whose benefit? No idea.

So now that we have cast-iron proof, let's ramp up a cold-war conflict between the United Kingdom and Russia.

Only someone exceptionally dim could come up with this response. It wasn't, was it? Dim Theresa, who spent her six years as Home Secretary picking fights and losing them?

It takes a world-class idiot to drive rational people to agree with Jeremy Corbyn and Vladimir Putin.

01.03.2018 – The cheque's in the post

Joseph von Westphalen

Joseph von Westphalen Image: ©

Joseph von Westphalen (1945-), the witty German writer and satirist, published the last article in his Flaneur series for the Munich Abendzeitung on 27  June 2014. After 325 articles, one every Saturday, the newspaper dispensed with his services. Admittedly, during his long literary career he has become a legend in his time for his cavalier treatment of deadlines.

Three months after that last article, he reappeared on its comments thread to add his final words. He closed with the following mini-dialogue, which all working writers should commit to heart:

— Question: 'What do you think about the war in Ukraine?'

— My answer: 'Don't know.'

— Question: 'What kind of an ignorant answer is that? You disappoint me!'

— My answer: 'Give me 500 Euro, then I'll sit down for six hours and write out what I think about the war in Ukraine. Then we will both know. Before that, not.'

Thoughts are free. That's true. But not free.

Frage: "Was denken Sie über den Krieg in der Ukraine?" - Meine Antwort: "Weiß nicht." - Frage: "Was ist denn das für eine ignorante Antwort? Sie enttäuschen mich!" - Meine Antwort: "Geben Sie mir 500 Euro, dann setze ich mich 6 Stunden hin und schreibe auf, was ich über den Ukrainekrieg denke. Dann wissen wir es beide. Vorher nicht." Gedanken sind frei. Stimmt. Aber nicht gratis.

Our readers will not miss the irony that this seeming champion of paid writing was still submitting free comments to his own pieces three months after the cheques stopped coming and will draw their own conclusions from that fact.

11.03.2018 – Amelia Earhart

If we believe the latest reports, the aviatrix Amelia Earhart (1897-1937?) died on Gardner Island in the Pacific. She and her navigator Fred Noonan (1893-1937?) disappeared during a round-the-world flight attempt.

Some bones were found in 1940, sent to Fiji, measured and then 'lost'. A new analysis of the measurements suggests that they may indeed be Earhart's.

Perhaps. But at least we have an excuse to reproduce Howard Chandler Christy's (1872-1952) stunning portrait of her. It is no wonder that Christy was probably the most popular portraitist of his day.

Howard Chandler Christy, Amelia Earhart, 1933

Howard Chandler Christy, Amelia Earhart, 1933, created for the cover of Town and Country magazine, 1 February 1933. Image: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery / The Seligman Family Foundation, San Francisco, California. [Click to open a larger image in a new tab, 1976x3000px.]

04.03.2018 – Persil Man

It was all a terrible misunderstanding, it seems. The geneticist Susan Walsh at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis says we simply don't know Cuprinol Man's skin colour, as that fount of information the Daily Mail now tells us:

Dr Walsh believes that the tests can't prove Cheddar Man's skin colour and that his DNA may have degraded over the past 10,000 years.

Speaking to New Scientist, she said: 'It’s not a simple statement of "this person was dark-skinned".

'It is his most probable profile, based on current research.'

After such weasel words we can only conclude that Cuprinol Man was in fact a specimen of the well-known Persil Man who, without any consideration of racial sensitivity, had blacked up and was mimicking an immigrant. The bashed in head suggests he got his just deserts for this outrageous racist behaviour.

04.03.2018 – Dog-bites-man

Prodded awake to do my duty and announce that in Germany two-thirds of the SPD has voted for the party to participate in the Grand Coalition.

The man-bites-dog news would have been if the SPD had rejected this opportunity to have six ministerial posts plus associated underlings and dogsbodies. The party's current polling numbers are awful: the comrades may as well enjoy a few years whilst they are circling the drain.

Let's not be too blasé. This complete electoral cock-up and all the jamko-coko-groko shenanigans in Germany have now crowned the AfD as the official opposition in parliament. Just think about that: two years ago something to scrape off your shoe, today a robust parliamentary opposition party. A party of patriotism, fiscal responsibility and social conservatism in the German Federal Parliament. The last time that happened was probably 1980.

A time may even come when other parliamentarians start being respectful to them and mainstream journalists finally drop the lazy '[extreme] right-wing' epithet that is rolled out whenever the AfD is mentioned. In 1980 the phrase for exactly the same thing was 'prudent conservative'.

Indeed, a time may even come when the FDP realises that in the Venn diagram of German politics they have so much in common with the AfD that, if they jump over their own shadow, they have between them a chance of imposing some economic order on this mad government.