Sunday, August 31, 2008

How convenient of Gustav

This, of course, is Gustav V (his four forebears were in 1984, 1990, 1996 and 2002: the coincidence with even -numbered years is because male and female names alternate in precedence). All Gustavs to date seems to have been mostly harmless.

Gustav V's prime achievement so far is denying George W Bush an opportunity to show up at St Paul's Xcel Energy Center for his successor's coronation. Probably that is to the relief of all persons concerned.

Peter Baker, for the magazine section of this weekend's New York Times (from where the telling cartoon above also came, one of a telling sequence by R. Kikuo Johnson) wrote a long piece which sets out the tortured relationship between Bush and McCain, claiming the two men have not spoken since May:
Eight years after their epic Republican primary battle of 2000, the first-place finisher desperately needs the second-place finisher to win in order to validate his own legacy. And the runner-up now finds himself saddled with the baggage of a man he never much liked to begin with, forced to live with a record he personally considers deeply lacking and portrayed as if he were a clone of his longtime adversary. As John Weaver, McCain’s former chief strategist told me, “I’m sure McCain is thinking, Is Bush going to beat me twice?"

Anxious denizens of Bushworld worry that McCain will beat himself and in the process take down their best chance for deliverance when it comes to the verdict of history.
The article then considers at length what Bush's legacy will be: about which Baker is surprisingly positive. Then he addresses McCain's problems with Bush, before winding up by considering how Bush is increasingly regarded as irrelevant: the media caravan has moved on; and the dogs are barking elsewhere.

The essay is worth the reading. Even if it offers little validation of what it purports to describe.

Far more fun is Maureen Dowd.

In today's Times she is going on "a vacuously spunky and generically sassy chick flick" fantasy, and using her stilettos to puncture Sarah Palin's "black go-go boots":

The legacy of Geraldine Ferraro was supposed to be that no one would ever go on a blind date with history again. But that crazy maverick and gambler McCain does it, and conservatives and evangelicals rally around him in admiration of his refreshingly cynical choice of Sarah, an evangelical Protestant and anti-abortion crusader who became a hero when she decided to have her baby, who has Down syndrome, and when she urged schools to debate creationism as well as that stuffy old evolution thing.

Palinistas, as they are called, love Sarah’s spunky, relentlessly quirky “Northern Exposure” story from being a Miss Alaska runner-up, and winning Miss Congeniality, to being mayor and hockey mom in Wasilla, a rural Alaskan town of 6,715, to being governor for two years to being the first woman ever to run on a national Republican ticket. (Why do men only pick women as running mates when they need a Hail Mary pass? It’s a little insulting.)

Now that's writing.

Sphere: Related Content
It's a Charlie!

He had not been in Boston for the last decade, so perhaps we should excuse him.

Malcolm bought his ticket from the machine at Andrew on the Red line. Only then did he realise the profound significance. He was holding a "Charlie".

Are you sitting comfortably? It's story time!

Sixty years back, Walter A. O'Brien stood for election as Mayor of Boston. For the Progressive Party.

Now, Malcolm puts this as gently as he can, but sensitive souls should look away now.

The Progressives were actual ... err ... lefties. In UK terms, they could have existed quite happily to the right of Nye Bevan in Clem Attlee's Labour Party. In the growing US Red Menace (©Tricky Dicky Nixon), they were way beyond the Pale.

O'Brien could not finance publicity to match the two main parties, so he recruited the WPA singers and song-writers to aid and abet him. In fact, the names on the credit list for this song are Jacqueline Berman and Bess Lomax Hawes: sister of the great Alan Lomax, and former member of the Almanac Singers with Woody and Pete. This is the royalty of the folk-song revival. There is a full on-line exegesis of the song, including several excised verses: the point of departure there is public transport, rather than the music.

Inevitably, O'Brien finished bottom of the poll, and furthermore was on the hard end of a ten-dollar fine for breaching the peace of Boston, when he toured the town with a loudspeaker van. The song, though, had already entered the public consciousness and featured as a Bill Hanley cartoon for the Boston Globe:

O'Brien now retreats from Malcolm's narrative, to the great state of Maine, where for a further forty years he fulfilled a fruitful life as a librarian and book-seller.

But Charlie endures

Come 1958, the Kingston Trio went gold with Tom Dooley: they were an instant (and even deserved) phenomenon which marked the international arrival of the "Folk Revival".

Somehow the Kingstons picked up the song. Don't mock it, kids, this is as good as it got in the Dansette generation:

One credible version is that the story came to Bess Lomax and Jacqueline Berman Steiner from a San Francisco bar-owner known as "Specs", who cut him in for a third of the royalties. "Specs" passed the song to Will Holt (the adaptor of a Brazilian original into Lemon Tree), who recorded it in the 1950s. The good bigots of Boston objected to a song which lauded a "Commie" (O'Brien was never a Party member); and the disk was suppressed. The Kingstons (apart from that YouTube version above, where they are emphatic with the "Charlie O'Brien") seem to address just that problem in different recordings of the song, his name is replaced by "George" or even by "someone".

Charlie's climb to respectability was complete when the (now) MBTA launched the card in his honour. They roused up the legacy Kingstons (who are two-thirds ex-Limeliters), rigged them in Red Sox blousons, matched them with Governor Mitt Romney, and did a presentation at "the former Scollay Square" station (now Government Center):


The Rough Guide to Boston (page 187 of the fifth, April 2008, edition Malcolm has here: it's the one with Beacon Hill on the cover) lists The Muddy Charles Pub as one to visit. Malcolm feels you should not bother. The clues are in the description:
Right on the MIT campus, this popular student pub has incredible waterfront views, cheap pitchers of beer, and a casual, grandfatherly vibe ...
Well, it's a long-way back from the river, which is out of view when the trees are in leaf. It's effectively a single large room (do you want to drink in a lecture room?). The beer is cheap, but choice is severely limited. It's almost impossible to find: the Rough Guide helpfully says "MIT's building 50"; but no student knows where that could be, except as a vague waved finger. And it's likely to be full of MBA students on a sandwich course. After those pitchers, you'll eventually find the toilets, a small hike away in the basement; and very definitely student bogs. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 29, 2008

As the moth to the flame ... ... so ordure to the electric fan.

There should be a sub-title here,
something to the effect of "the joys of politics".

No sooner had the name of Sarah Palin hit the headlines, and the near-universal cries of "Who she?" faded, than the cow-pats came a-flying:
  • Before she became governor of Alaska (virtually a Republican Party feudal fiefdom), her administrative experience was limited to being Mayor of Wasilla City (pop. 6,715).
  • She was elected because it was a case of "anybody but Frank Murkowski". Murkowski had been a total disaster as Governor (but that's another story).
  • Her sole national recognition is an award from the National Arbor Day Foundation.
  • Oh, and Sarah Heath (as she then was) was runner-up in the "Miss Alaska" beauty pageant.
  • She raised sales tax to fund a recreation center in her home town.
  • She doesn't think polar bears should be an endangered species. This might have something to do with her links to the oil industry: oil men don't like sharing the tundra with the local wild-life.
  • She used her power as Governor to sack her ex-brother-in-law from the State troopers (see below for more).
  • She is currently under investigation for improper use of her authority.
That last bit needs a bit of expansion:
  • It seems that the Alaska public-safety commissioner, one Walt Monegan, was none too quick to accede to the governor's behest that the ex-brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, was defenestrated.
  • It took more than a score of calls from Governor Palin and/or her unelected husband before the end was achieved. The Palins were shrill in denying any involvement until the tape of one such call emerged.
  • There have been some questions about Mr Wooten's own character; and his custody battle with Governor Palin's younger sister, Molly, appears somewhat bitter.
  • Another view of that is most of the complaints (some 25 of them) against Trooper Wooten were lodged by the Palin and Heath families, strangely coincidental with custody hearings.
  • All the complaints were investigated, and dismissed -- except one. Wooten admitted shooting a moose without a permit. The moose was then butchered by Governor Palin's father, and the meat shared among the Palins, including Governor Palin herself.
  • Result: Mr Monegan found himself out of a job, and replaced by the former police chief of Kenai (pop. 7,400), the excellently-named Chuck Kopp. Kopp, by yet another coincidence, is a long-time acquaintance of the Palins. Small and intimate place, Alaska: only some 656,424 square miles.
  • Unfortunately Kopp had been on the receiving end of sexual harassment allegations. Kopp then claimed he had not received a letter of reprimand for this behaviour, but "a letter of instruction for future dealings with employees.”
  • Result: Governor Palin did not submit Kopp's name for approval by the Alaska Legislature. She had swiftly dispensed with him, too.
Not for nothing was the lady's College moniker "Sarah Barracuda", gained from her basketball prowess. She has lost little of her bite.

Doubtless there will be considerable back-slapping among the Republicans of Alaska.

The Democrats returning to their bases from Denver's Convention may well be quite chuffed, too.
Sphere: Related Content
"Everything but 666"?

From today's main article in the New York Times:
Even in invoking the [45th] anniversary of the [Martin Luther] King speech, Mr. Obama only alluded to race. But he quoted a famous phrase from Dr. King’s address to reinforce a central theme of his own speech. “America, we cannot turn back,” Mr. Obama said. “Not with so much work to be done.”

Mr. McCain marked the occasion of the speech by releasing a television advertisement in which, looking into the camera, he paid tribute to Mr. Obama and his accomplishment. “How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day,” Mr. McCain said. “Tomorrow, we’ll be back at it. But tonight, Senator, job well done.

The advertisement stood in stark contrast to a summer of slashing attacks on Mr. Obama by Mr. McCain that apparently contributed to the tightening of this race.
Ah! How sweet! How gentlemanly!


How appallingly calculated and calculating.

In a parallel article, Alessandra Stanley (on page A15 of the Times) comes closer to the cynicism needed here. She watched the stadium event, as most Americans would have done, on television:
In an unusual turn, even Senator John McCain, the expected Republican nominee, felt compelled to pay tribute to Mr. Obama’s historic milestone with a television advertisement congratulating his opponent on “a job well done.” (No good ad goes unpunished: after Mr. McCain’s spot on CNN came a Mutual of Omaha commercial about retirement plans for the elderly, and another promising to reverse baldness.)
Look closer, and the turn is hardly unusual, nor the deed as "good".

What does McCain's ad remind the audience?

Well, look at the Washington Post's coverage, and note the editorial elision:
Even McCain acknowledged what he called "truly a good day for America" with an advertisement before and after the Democrat's address, saying: "Too often the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed. So I wanted to stop and say congratulations. . . . Tomorrow, we'll be back at it. But tonight, Senator, job well done."

The writers, Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray, have spotted the elephant trap in that phrase, "on this historic day", and removed it. Now McCain appears to be playing up, and playing the game.

But the game's not cricket.

If anyone hasn't anticipated Malcolm's train of thought, try this: subtly, almost subliminally, McCain's phrase makes the connexion between Obama and race.

It is the "dog-whistle politics" that was introduced into British politics by Lynton Crosby, from the Australian Right, and exploited by the Conservatives in the 2005 campaign. Crosby, let us also recall, was back to work, largely unheralded, for Blasted Boris during the recent London Mayoral campaign. The cur returns to its vomit.

David Gergen is professor of public service at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of its Center for Public Leadership. He has been ahead of the curve here:

Even before Gergen, the Wall Street Journal (8th August) had spotted what was going on:
An Internet ad launched last week by the McCain presidential campaign has attracted more than one million hits by appearing to mock Barack Obama for presenting himself as a kind of prophetic figure.

The ad has also generated criticism from Democrats and religious scholars who see a hidden message linking Sen. Obama to the apocalyptic Biblical figure of the antichrist ...

The Obama campaign declined to comment. Earlier this summer, when asked about similar concerns circulating in Appalachian Ohio, David Wilhelm, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said the Obama campaign has no option but to confront voters' concerns head on.

"You let people know what makes you tick and what your values and proposals are," said Mr. Wilhelm. "Ultimately, they will make decisions that will reflect their economic interests and their sense of values."

The End Times, a New Testament reference to the period surrounding the return of Christ, were popularized in recent years by the "Left Behind" series of books that sold more than 63 million copies. The Rev. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the series, said in an interview that he recognized allusions to his work in the ad but comparisons between Sen. Obama and the antichrist are incorrect.
This is nasty stuff ...
... as ruthless and despicable, cunning and loathsome as it can get:


Yet, the scriptures have a word of advice to McCain and his evangelical dog-whistlers:

He that toucheth pitch shall be defiled therewith;
and he that hath fellowship with a proud man
shall be like unto him.
[Ecclesiasticus 13:1]
Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mind the Venetian Gap

Malcolm is, quite frankly, rather taken by Venice's new bridge, the Ponte di Calatrava, across the Grand Canal. Only the fourth crossing point, to Malcolm's eyes it appears at least as attractive as two of the others.

It will provide a much-needed link between the Santa Lucia railway station and the wasteland of the bus station at Piazzale Roma, rather than the hike via the Ponte degli Scalzi. Answer to any and every question prompted there: find the nearest ACTV landing point, buy a period ticket by inserting credit card into machine (say €31 -- €18 for a student -- for 3 days), and enjoy.

The bridge is two years behind schedule and considerably over budget. To add cross-braces, stairs were installed: thus causing problems for wheelchairs (all those other bridges in Venice, some centuries old, seem to overcome that problem). Inevitably, too, it is now embroiled in the alternative universe that is the political life of Italy.

For the truly bizarre, as the vaporetto trundles past Piazzale Rome (yes; do make sure your time includes the circular tour, no. 82 as Malcolm remembers, via the Canale della Giudecca, as well as the trip, no. 71 and 72, out to Murano), notice that you are passing L'Automobile Club Venezia. Think about it. Sphere: Related Content
A Santa Rosa, by any other name,
would smell as sweet?

As the great clear-out goes on, a curiosity dropped into Malcolm's ken, onto his foot, and with great force.

It was an AST "lap-top" computer from about 1992 or 1993. No wonder male impotence became a medical phenomenon about that time. The battery alone is the size of a fold-up umbrella, capable of being used as a small hand-weapon (but, amazingly, still capable of holding a charge).

AST, once a Fortune 500 corporation, has long since become one with the Norwegian Blue:
Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!
To Malcolm's surprise, even astonishment, feeding the AST 240 volts provided life, albeit in glorious LCD monochrome on a five inch (to be generous) screen. The menu then turned up Word, Excel and Notes, even Windows 3.1, and all on a hard-drive of 80 MB. The wonder driving the box of tricks is a 386SX, running at 25 MHz. All this and an ethernet connection. What else could a road-warrior desire?

At that time Malcolm's weapon of choice was a Mac with a similar configuration: a IIvx, with a 68030 CPU running at 32MHz, another 80MB hard drive, but also .... a CD ROM. That is also still in working condition (though it needed a motherboard transplant a couple of years into its long life. That, along with a Power Mac, a 6100 from a year or so later, and a couple of pizza-box LC630s, are kept in the attic on the theory that one day, one day, they may be needed to run obsolete software, such as the Oxford English Dictionary ROM. In fact, since the OED is now on line (along with the DNB) -- thanks to the agreement with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council -- that is just an excuse for clutter.

This train of thought was complicated by trying to comprehend a Computerworld article which was supposed to explain the naming of Intel chips, specifically that the "Nehalem" is now "Core i7". Hopeless.

And for his next trick, Malcolm explains the off-side rule. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, August 24, 2008

An aching void

To Malcolm's knowledge, the Sunday, extended, Doonesbury strip is not available via the mainstream British Press.

The short-lived Sunday Correspondent carried it. Malcolm seems to recall it appearing in the Sunday Tribune (which, also sadly, seems no longer to appear in London newsagents). And that was that.

So Malcolm has to go to the Net to get his dose.

Today's is a gem, starring Alex and Kim (two of the eight cells only: go to the original for the full skinny). Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Malcolm promises ...

... yes, really promises.

He is genuinely trying to enthuse about Joe Biden as the next Vice-President of the United States. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, August 21, 2008

To every season there is a Tory U-turn

This post will also appear on Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service

Last Saturday, Diddy Dave Cameron upped and flew to Tbilisi: to no great effect except as personal-image burnishing. There was even a sequin of foreign policy with which to dazzle us:
Cameron adopted a more robust, anti-Russian stance than the government has. He called for Russia to be suspended from membership of the G8 group of industrialised nations and for Georgia's entry into Nato to be brought forward.
Yesterday, more discreetly, the Tories were trying to unscramble their lines over cooperation in the Council of Europe. By the by, Denis MacShane played a blinder on their confusions:
Denis MacShane, the Labour former Europe minister, said it was hypocritical for Cameron to pose as anti-Russian in Georgia when Conservative MPs were sitting alongside parliamentarians from Putin's United Russia party in the Council of Europe ...

MacShane told that it was hypocritical of Cameron to advocate firm anti-Russian policies "when he leads the only major European party that works with the Kremlin in the Council of Europe".
The bottom line there is that Tory Euroscepticism prevents the natural alliance with respectable European parties. Instead they have lumbered themselves with the "European Democrat Group", which is hardly "European" in any positive sense, and its other members, largely from Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic, on only vague nodding terms with "democracy".

The constitution of the EDG tells us most of what we need to know:
7. The Group believes that free market economics, the pursuit of free enterprise, private ownership and minimal government have proved to be the principle [sic] catalysts to individual freedom and a growing source of both personal and national prosperity; that the wealth of nations grows with individual enterprise and the inheritance of generations; and that it is the ambition of parents for their children to be richer and freer than they.

8. The Group believes that citizens should be encouraged to exercise ever greater private responsibility in the provision of education, health, social services, security in old age and employment. The role of the State is to guarantee provision of those services for all.

Private health, private wealth, and the pursuit of capitalistic happiness.

Then, suddenly, out of the darkest blue, the Tories changed tack:
A spokeswoman said: "Given the recent events in Georgia, we do not believe that the current arrangement in the European Democrat group in the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly can continue as it is.

"We are already in the process of consulting our partners within the group, such as the Polish Law and Justice party and the Czech Civic Democrats about the way forward."

She said that talks about a new grouping had been going on for some time and were not just prompted by the "hypocrisy" allegations. She also said that, because negotiations were under way, it was not possible yet to say what the outcome would be.


You won't be if you address yourselves to the Ratbiter column (not on line) on page 8 of the current issue (i.e. 22 Aug - 4 Sep) of Private Eye:
The party of the thoroughly modern David Cameron ought to be able to work with those other successful centre-right politicians Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. But because Sarkozy and Merkel support greater EU integration, the Tories will have nothing to do with them. They ally instead with assorted deadbeats and nutcases from fringe nationalist parties in the European parliament. When they move beyond the EU, they cut deals with Putin’s far more formidable and far more dangerous United Russia Party and try to advance the careers of its apparatchiks ...
There then follows six more paragraphs, detailing how Tories in the Council of Europe pushed a former KGB man for president, tried to prevent Saakashvili of Georgia speaking at Strasbourg, and generally acquired the reputation of being Putin’s pawns.

What was that about “a week being a long time in politics”?

Meanwhile, in the jungle something stirs ...

... and it ain't nice.

And, if Diddy Dave and Co. have anything to do with it, it ain't gonna be on public view.

Back in June, John Redwood flew a kite about Cameron and Obama maintaining the "special relationship":
I think David Cameron would get on fine on a personal level with [Obama]. The policy disagreements on economic and tax matters would not, on the whole, matter, as they are largely domestic decisions in each country. I suspect an Obama presidency would end up looking more like a Bush presidency, once the Pentagon had sucked him in to their more warlike view, and once the Treasury and Commerce Departments had explained to him the advantages of freer trade. McCain still has plenty of room to push for victory, and the McCain relationship has been developed by David Cameron in Opposition.
In yesterday's Telegraph, Irwin Stelzer took the notion a stage further. He was comparing the merits of Brown versus Cameron and McCain versus Obama in terms of the UK/US connection:
In foreign affairs, Britain needs a leader with the best chance of retaining the nation's historic ability to punch above its weight - to borrow Douglas Hurd's phrase.
However, Brown has:
... low standing in Washington. Brown's refusal to allow British troops to come out of their airport sanctuary to help tame Basra is something a McCain administration will remember when deciding which allies it can count on.
Miliband is even more despised:
"spineless" is a word bandied about by those least impressed with this David's ability to take on the Russian Goliath.
But here comes the new hero:
David Cameron has managed to remain a blank page in the book of America's foreign friends. But US policy-makers know that his foreign secretary-to-be, William Hague, has made it clear that he regards Britain's relationship with America as central to Britain's foreign policy.

So, if you believe that one of the keys to Britain maintaining a voice that will be heard in foreign affairs is its close relationship with the US, Cameron is your best bet.

Pick the bones out of that.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 18, 2008

Of blogs and bosoms
Hear me now, oh, the bleak and unbearable world:
Thou art base and debauched as can be
And a knight with his banner all bravely unfurled
Now hurls down his gauntlet to thee!
His nearest-and-dearest mock him for it. Even the most "successful" (that is: brash, pushy, meretricious and mercenary) of the local blog-artists have taken the time vulgarly to abuse him for it.

He ploughs his solitary furrow regardless.

He has never, even to himself, fully described what he aims to do.
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go.
To dream, in hope of doing: that is the point. Entirely and only to his own satisfaction, for he is his own most demanding critic.

Then he sees an example and expostulates, as his sixth-form history-teacher would to a correct answer, like an Archimedes brought to Dublin: "That's it! That's it!".

And all is, for the moment, made clear.

Thus Malcolm, through a the end of a bottle of burgundy, darkly.

Item: Stanley Fish

Stanley has been at, with, and through half the American Universities of worth (sometimes, it seems, simultaneously): UPenn, Yale, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Chicago, to arrive at FIU. He is one of those scholars that other wannabes now write their theses about.

He has pulpits in
half the liberal trendy publications of North America; but, for Malcolm, chiefly via the New York Times.

Today, Stanley is lauding the great sex-symbols of his youth:
... two of the most erotic moments one can find on film feature no nudity and bodies just touching.
They are:
  • the 1951 A Place in the Sun, [which] pairs a ravishing 18-year-old Elizabeth Taylor with Montgomery Clift
  • 1955’s Picnic, [where] the sparks fly between Kim Novak, then 22, and William Holden.
Steady, Stanley!

Let's clear up any ... err ... ambiguities here:
  • A 30-odd year old bisexual (to be generous), hitting on teenage Liz?
  • A 37-year old Holden, who had been Ronnie Reagan's best man, appreciating Kim's impressive cleavage?
Yeah: well.

The rest of this worthy essay is a defence of Novak as an actress and zeitgeist. Fish's conclusion is:
“that kind of image” — of the inwardly fragile beauty dependent on the men who wish only to possess her — was no longer what the movie-going public was looking for after the early ‘60s, and that model of female behavior has not come into favor again (although Scarlett Johansson comes close to reviving it in some of her movies, especially Woody Allen’s “Match Point”). But however retrograde it may be, that role was performed to perfection by Kim Novak, who, after all these years, can still break your heart.
Ahem ... say no more.

Malcolm found this piece a fair example of what he, himself, would like regularly to achieve: a piece of candy-floss spun into something of substance. Here we have a good holiday frisk for a mid-August frolic, but with a hard edge to it.

Allowing for Stanley's more advanced age, Malcolm's own prejudice might tend to embrace those great Thespians, Tuesday Weld and the late Sandra Dee (which adjective makes Malcolm feel antique).

Oh dear, a preference for blondes.

Still, let's not tell Malcolm's dark lady of all these years.

There is a serious point lurking somewhere here.

A large number of our prejudices are formed very early in our lives, and that's not merely the (attributed) Jesuit dogma.

Our sporting allegiance is certainly likely to be cemented in our early teens (hence Malcolm's regular Sunday morning rendezvous with the doings of Norwich City). The fantasy female (or whatever way one wags) follows soon after.

So, where do we acquire our social idealism?
And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.

Sphere: Related Content
Whimsy, to gar the tyme be schort

Yes, he's there, or rather his near homophone is, at the other end of the same shelf as Steinbeck and RLS (who, at least, have California in common, before it went to perdition).

Malcolm is in the process of de-booking the house, shifting box-loads to shelves in the attic.

In the futile hope of being able, in future, to find things, some sense of order is required. So authors are finding themselves classified by genre. Drama and poetry are currently below fiction, but above history. It begins to look as if history will have to be hived off to further shelving, inevitably so with Will's venerable burthen yet to be hoiked up from the hallway.

Then, as the novels slowly went into alphabetical order, Malcolm noticed strange associations. A quirky caprice (is that a redundancy?) came to occupy his mind.

Do books talk to each other in the peace of the night?

Is it a quiet meditative, library murmur, or is it full-blooded
aunt calling to aunt like mastodons bellowing across some primeval swamp?
"Plum", of course, is down quite a bit, beyond the Great White Wilderness (Edmund, T.H., ...) where Updike and Gore Vidal can share a mutual scorn, kept apart only by Vernes surviving from Malcolm's childhood.

Does Joyce have anything to share with his coeval Kafka?

Perhaps they could exchange views on sexual guilt, or the decay of great empires.

There's celticism galore (adopted, affected, and the real McCoy) on a middle shelf where Nye butts up to O'Brian, while the fragrant Edna consorts with Flann.

Above their heads, Lord Horatio has to rub along with Sir Harry, with only the enigmas of John Fowles intervening.

Can anyone explain the coincident congregation of teccies and mysteries, where Connelly shoulders up to Crais, Deighton to Dexter, with Michael Dibden on close nodding terms to Dickens, just a shelf above Doyle? Does Morse show due respect to Bucket's precedence and age? Is Aurelio Zen too distant to converse with Guido Brunetti?

Verse and worse

But the real possibility of trouble brewing is much lower down.

Catholic Belloc close to Anglican Betjeman: hmm.

A whole clutch of Thomases: Dylan, Edward, and R.S.

Famous Seamus only a Henryson away from Hughes. Bibulous Kavanagh kept from Kipling only by vinous Keats.

These poets can be vicious.

And so Sunday afternoon was passed in productive reverie, and with the occasional piece (this one, last visited c.1964) of serendipity:
Sa lyis thair ane doctrine wyse aneuch,
And full of fruit, under ane fenyeit Fabill.

And Cler
kis sayis it is richt profitabill
Amangis ernist to ming ane merie sport,

To light the spreit, and gar the tyme be schort.
On second thoughts: modern rendering of that here.

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It never rains but it pours

Austin, Texas, is suffering a drought.

The local water utility is urging restraint in water use.

Last month, the most profligate domestic consumer of Austin's water was Lance Armstrong, the cyclist.

Armstrong was not even in town:
He has been in Colorado and California all summer and only noticed the surge in water use when he saw his bills go up.
Armstrong owns a
lush Spanish-colonial home, with an acre of gardens and a swimming pool
(see right) in Austin, and was billed $2,460 for 330,000 gallons in July:
38 times what the average household in the city uses in the summer.
Special thanks to the New York Times for this information, and particularly for the name of
Daryl Slusher, an assistant director of the Austin City Water Authority in charge of conservation.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch:
Torrential rain has been causing widespread flooding across Northern Ireland.

In Belfast, the newly-constructed Broadway Underpass in west Belfast is currently under 15 feet of flood water.
Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kermit unmasked?

There's whole hop of Kermits, stemming from the marriage of (later President) Teddy Roosevelt's second marriage to Edith Kermit Carow.

The first in the line was Kermit Roosevelt I, a brilliant linguist who served as a Captain, and won a Militiary Cross, in the British Machine Gun Corps.

Posted to the Mesopotamia campaign as a transport officer (the War Office wanting to keep such a sensitive "asset" out of the front line) he learned Arabic within four months, and became the recognised translator.

[The wikipedia illustration, left, is identified as " John Singer Sargent's sketch from the cover of his book on his wartime experiences in Mesopotamia called War in the Garden of Eden." This is somewhat confusing. The book is Kermit's own 1919 memoir; and the sketch is dated "July 8th 1917", so was probably done while Sargent was in the US].

Therein started a continuing link between Kermits and "Mesopotamia".

Meanwhile, Malcolm pauses to note that brother Brigadier General "Teddy" Roosevelt, commander of the 26th Infantry at Utah Beach, recipient of the Medal of Honor, is buried at Coleville Military Cemetery (but see important correction in comments to this post). His grave is next to that of his youngest brother, Quentin, who was shot down in July 1918.

Kermit I turned to the demon drink, having once again volunteered for service with the British Army (in the "Winter War" in Finland, no less), from which he was discharged in 1941. The family then prevailed upon cousin FDR to find Kermit a commission in the US Army, who posted him to Alaska, where in 1943, he shot himself. He is memorialised in the naming of a ghost town in Roosevelt County, New Mexico, a small town across the state line in Winkler County, Texas, and a very short road in Maplewood, New Jersey (UK customs officials always seem to doubt that address when it is given for reclaiming the payment of VAT: strange that).

Meanwhile, the focus shifts to his son, Kermit, Jr (right, in 1950).

In 1953 MI6 and the CIA ran Operation Ajax to oust Persian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and any vestige of democracy, so to establishing a Iranian régime more friendly to the West (and to western oil interests). The plot was largely managed and engineered by "James Lockridge"(a.k.a. Kermit Roosevelt). This gives us a shibboleth to determine a historian's bias: did Roosevelt, by queering the pitch of Mossadegh, save Iran from Communism, or, by restoring the Shah, guarantee a tyranny which led to the 1979 Khomeini Revoution?

Today's Washington Post, and other journals of repute, are noticing an A.P. story that the US National Archives now have three-quarters of a million pages of documentation, from the OSS records of the 1940s, naming 24,000 names of former agents. Quelle surprise! Or not. Our Kermit's name is, indeed, one of them.

The dynasty continues. Since 2007, the Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, with specialisms in constitutional law and conflicty of laws is ... Kermit Roosevelt.

"Kermit", a decent Scottish fore-name, which the books tell Malcolm is corrupted from Macdiarmuid, fell from popularity as the Green One's proportionately rose. That most famed of the Kermits was named for a friend, Kermit Scott, from Jim Henson's childhood home in Leland, Mississippi.

The town still trades on the connection, "spawned in Henson's mind" (see left). Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

That colossal wreck

One poem that's worth every effort, is unfailingly in any anthology, is badly taught (or was: the dumbed-down National Curriculum rendered such study irrelevant), and so passes over the head of most students, has to be:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Shelley's sonnet was a spear-carrier behind David Aaronovitch's holiday soliloquy for the Times last Saturday:
Nowhere offers as much to the ruin-lover as does Turkey. From the Armenian churches and graveyards to the relics of the empire of Seleucus, the kingdoms of the Hellenistic era, the remnants of the civilisation of Midas, the Ottomans, Venetians, Crusaders, Hittites, Romans, the scattered reminders of strange sects and powerful religions, the almost unvisited yet complete Greek hill towns, it lies all around the visitor, requiring only his or her curiosity.

But almost anywhere will do. A stone in a wood, a piece of tile swept by a 1950s flood towards the banks of the Severn, an old brick wall, the shadow of a Victorian advertisement on a gable, these are sufficient. It is all, as Shelley put it in Ozymandias, “a shatter'd visage”, a reminder of the end of things, and - because we are there to find it - of their continuation.

And there is something else - about our own mortality and what we leave behind us. Shelley's Ozymandias was written in 1817 as part of a sonnet-composing session with the mostly forgotten poet Horace Smith.
He then quotes the sestet from Smith (of that, more in a moment).

Whichever beak at William Ellis imposed Ozy upon Aaronovitch left a permanent mark, for it appeared previously, when Aaonovitch had the decency to associate with the better class of journos of the Farringdon Road:
It was a strange thing to wake up early on Sunday morning, and see the first light catch, not the tip of the wife's alabaster nose, but the gigantic brown cheek of Pharoah Amenophis III. Further down the hall, under the arm of another Ozymandias, three small boys lay like caterpillars in their sleeping bags, while opposite me a dad snored immensely, stretched out next to a basalt clerk from a later dynasty.

I've been doing this for the past couple of years, bringing a child or two to the sleepovers organised by the Young Friends of the British Museum. Late at night when the visitors are all long gone, 150 or so of us make masks, listen to stories, or dance among the sarcophagi and statues. On my second visit a friend of my daughter's (a real London boy) celebrated our privileged access to the Greek gods by bringing along a metal tape measure, and ostentatiously measuring all the marble penises he could find. Different aspects of the past affect people in different ways.
That's a piece, by the way, which develops into the pillage of the Baghdad museums.

Until last Saturday, Malcolm wotted not of "the mostly forgotten poet Horace Smith". So, inspired by Aaronovitch's hint, he went looking and found (original spelling) -- and liked:
In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desart knows:—
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
The story so far

The original idea is derived from a Greek "historical library" by Diodorus of Sicily (90-21 BC). "Ozymandias" is the name Greeks used for Ramses II. Shelley and Smith wrote their poems in competition (the Shelleys seemed to make a thing about such contests: that's supposedly how Frankenstein was drafted). Shelley and Smith both had their sonnets published in Leigh Hunt's The Examiner (issues of January 11 and February 1, 1818).

And that's about it. One poet, and poem prospered and became universal. The other, unfairly on this evidence, lapsed into obscurity:
If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
Your favours nor your hate. ...
We've all done it

We stood and looked and wondered, and muttered that tag from Shelley.

Malcolm finds himself doing so, as Aaronovitch's second paragraph nicely describes, and perhaps more so at modern, rather than antique ruins. It is part of us, and (in Aaronovitch's neat word) of our "continuation" -- and, implicitly, the anticipation of our own demise.

Ancient decrepitude is explicable: we all accept the ravages of time (though the megalomania of a Ramses or a Nero deserves special scorn). Our own times have produced enough plangent shatter'd visages. There's all those bits of Fritz Todt's Westwall lying around, for a start, memorialising those who built them, and who had no "continuation".

The site of this forgotten Babylon

Some years back, Malcolm led a family trek through the southern skirts of Nürnberg to find the Zeppelinfeld.

There, too, was Speer's unfinished Congress Hall, where the Nazi Party were to assemble to be berated by the Fűhrer. It was, when Malcolm visited, the municipal store yard and dump.

There was only one other visiting car that day, another British couple. Surprising that? Or not? As Malcolm and his family came through the entrance tunnel, someone, somewhere tipped a load of rubble. The echo was an uncomfortable half-echo from a Leni Riefenstahl sound-track. Flesh crawled. Older spines shivered. Ozymandias was only barely appropriate.

What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

Malcolm experienced this, most painfully, at the Fulton Street viewing platform, overlooking Ground Zero (how many using that term recognise the irony of a reference to Hiroshima?)

But it does not have to be so epic, so epochal, so apocalyptic as that.

We often hit on a marvel of recent vintage, as Aaronovitch noted. It is now neglected or declining into decay or being trashed for something new. We are, indeed, all of us different to Ozymandias only in the scale of arrogance and presumption. Let's count in here the dying months of the old Wembley. The dereliction of industrial Britain, steelyards and garden sheds: north Sheffield, anyone? Those dead steam behemoths, lined up, rusting, redundant and on the way to scrap (see right). That motor-cycle, forever idle at the back of the garage, passed on from a younger Malcolm.

A dominie reminisces

Smith's sonnet, though, prompts Malcolm to remember even "difficult" classes would respond to particular short stories. One that worked repeatedly was Arthur C. Clarke's The Forgotten Enemy.

After a sudden climate change, northern Europe becomes uninhabitably cold. Professor Millward, alone, remains in London, camped in the Senate House tower of London University, among the books to which he had dedicated his life:
Three hundred feet below, the broken sea of snow-covered roofs lay bathed in the bitter moonlight. Miles away the tall stacks of Battersea Power Station glimmered like thin white ghosts against the night sky. Now that the dome of St. Paul's had collapsed beneath the weight of snow, they alone challenged his supremacy.
After a couple of decades, he starts hearing thunder, then:
the cry of a wolf from somewhere in the direction of Hyde Park.
Did Clarke recall Smith's sonnet from Huish's Grammar School?
By the end of the week he knew that the animals of the north were on the move. Once he saw a reindeer running southward, pursued by a pack of silent wolves, and sometimes in the night there were sounds of deadly conflict. He was amazed that so much life still existed in the white wilderness between London and the Pole. Now something was driving it southward, and the knowledge brought him a mounting excitement. He did not believe that these fierce survivors would flee from anything save Man.
This , of course, is only the momentary lessening of dramatic tension before the climatic conclusion:
As a watcher from the walls of some threatened fortress might have seen the first sunlight glinting on the spears of an advancing army, so in that moment Professor Millward knew the truth. The air was crystal-clear, and the hills were sharp and brilliant against the cold blue of the sky. They had lost almost all their snow. Once he would have rejoiced at that, but it meant nothing now.

Overnight, the enemy he had forgotten had conquered the last defences and was preparing for the final onslaught. As he saw that deadly glitter along the crest of the doomed hills, Professor Millward understood at last the sound he had heard ad-vancing for so many months. It was little wonder he had dreamed of mountains on the march.

Out of the north, their ancient home, returning in triumph to the lands they had once possessed, the glaciers had come again.
That appeared in 1949, likely to have derived in part from experiencing the horrendous winter of 1946-7. Of course, in the aftermath of the War, dystopias were the norm. Clarke predates The Day After Tomorrow by a full half-century (though, the last time Malcolm used the story, that connexion was shrewdly proposed by the anorectal agony in the back-row).

For the full effect, though, of Smith's image, we need another visual.

Now what comes to mind? Ah! yes!

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 11, 2008

Of pigs and souls

(previously posted at Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service)

Malcolm's daughter, a pert little piece, never fails to press home on him her better and more recent History degree. She is fond of quoting the wit and wisdom of President Josiah Bartlet. Her current favourite aperçu, in a different but obvious connexion, is that the Democratic Party eats its own young.

An immediate ancestor of that remark is Joyce's Stephen Dedalus:
Stephen, following his own thought, was silent for an instant.

-- The soul is born, he said vaguely, first in those moments I told you of. It has a slow and dark birth, more mysterious than the birth of the body. When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.

Davin knocked the ashes from his pipe.

-- Too deep for me, Stevie, he said. But a man's country comes first. Ireland first, Stevie. You can be a poet or a mystic after.

-- Do you know what Ireland is? asked Stephen with cold violence. Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.

This reflection was forced on Malcolm, reading Liam Clarke in the Sunday Times, who was poring over Anthony McIntyre's Good Friday: the Death of Irish Republicanism (so newly republished that Amazon seems not to have listed it yet):
McIntyre, a former IRA commander who served 18 years for murder and then did a PhD in republican history, is right. The Provisional IRA — and the army council that plotted its campaign — is on its death bed. It may thrash around like a headless chicken for a few years, but it is past reviving. If the IRA ever re-emerges, it will be a new organisation with new people.

So, as you were, stand easy.

If K-waves exist in history (Ah! those Kondratieff cycles! another marxist construct to emerge like Krakens from the despised depths), they wash over Ireland more frequently than elsewhere: about every 30 or 40 years, perhaps.

We were surely last here in the 1960s:
... the Republican movement had split down the middle in a crisis that was as public and almost as damaging as that which led to the formation of Fianna Fail itself. The stated issue was the recognition of the 'partition parliaments' of Dublin, Stormont and Westminster. The I.R.A. had held a secret convention in mid-December [1969] which had voted 39 to 12 in favour of recognition and the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis meeting (in the incongruous surroundings of the American-financed Intercontinental Hotel) was supposed to do likewise and give Sinn Fein a mandate to oppose foreign investment and set about the 'reconquest of Ireland, shop by shop and factory by factory.
That was where, contemporaneously with the moment, Tim Pat Coogan finished the first part of his The IRA.

When Coogan resumed, ten years later, adding Part II, it was with a penetrating rhetorical question:
How did the blackened, almost unarmed and certainly very largely discredited I.R.A. resurrect itself to become a national force moving the North of Ireland issue to the fore throughout all the dismaying events of the last decade?
His explanation comes down to:
  • street-wise opportunism on the one hand; and

  • bone-headed and stumbling governmental reactions on the other.
Fair enough. Malcolm reckons Coogan's chapter 16: The Roots of the Conflict has stood the test of time; and needs to be taken as a complete course of treatment.

An earlier cycle

De Valera came to office in 1932 with the slogan On to the Republic! So who would restore the republic? And how? What, in the context of a decade of self-government, and a changed world since 1916, was the "republic"?

Support for Fianna Fáil and the IRA was coterminous: farming communities, and urban workers. Stopping land annuities to Britain strengthened De Valera's position with the countryside. The reprisals, tariffs on Irish exports, was characterised as the "economic war": in such terminology, De Valera was seen as fighting for the republic. There was no room for him to be outflanked by the IRA.

Yet, it was a desperate time: even before the tariff wall went up, unemployment in the Saorstát was 133,000 and rising rapidly; central Dublin -- 25,320 families cammed into 4,830 tenements -- was remarkable only in numbers for urban squalor. The Hierarchy, on the back of the Eucharistic Congress and readily echoed by Cosgrave's men, were shrill in a 'red scare'. The Blueshirts (easily conflated with Cumann na nGaedhael and international finance as bogeymen, real or imagined) were in the ascendant. Only the declaration of the 1932 election had forestalled the IRA re-arming against the Cosgrave coercions and gaolings.

Two days into his new administration, De Valera had met the IRA command and demanded that the government be recognised: the implication, and stumbling-block, was tacit acceptance of partition, and the anathema of a de facto 26-county republic. De Valera then further undermined the IRA through patronage: jobs, service pensions for old IRA men, and Frank Aitken's Volunteers for the younger element.

The IRA had to change in this new dispensation. Was it to be:
  • A nationalistic body, anti-imperialist and also 'anti-fascist'? Or

  • A force for social and political change (The Communist Party of Ireland launched in June 1933 and claimed '50 per cent of the delegates to the Congress are members of the IRA')?
When the I.R.A. General Army Convention met, on St Patrick's Day, 1934, it split "almost evenly" over proposed changes of policy which, many felt, might address those issues. Mick Price, Peadar O'Donnell, Charlie Gilmore and Frank Ryan lost to the Executive and Army Council by a single vote: they took up their ball and went to play at Athlone.

Two weeks later 200 met at Athlone and issued a manifesto:
to make the Republic the main issue dominating the whole political field and to outline what are the forms of activity that move to its support.
When the Manifesto was published, in the first of a regular weekly Republican Congress, it carried a motto from Connolly:
We cannot conceive of a Free Ireland with a Subject Working Class.
Now, as Malcolm sees it, the story of 1934 takes an extraordinary turn.

Let him, first, back-track to the last day of September, 1932. It was the Friday evening after the outdoor-relief workers had voted to strike for an increase in assistance, for an end to task-work, and to payments-in-kind. Lord Craigavon, bizarrely onlie-true begetter of the British jigsaw puzzle library, was moving a vote of thanks to Belfast Corporation, as the Northern Ireland Parliament went to occupy the new Stormont. Jack Beattie, the NILP MP for East Belfast, grabbed the mace; denounced the motion; and yelled it should instead be a debate about:
"the serious position of unemployment in Northern Ireland ... The House indulges in hypocrisy while there are starving thousands outside."
He threw the mace to the floor; and strode out. The massed Unionists replied by starting up God Save the King.

Tommy Henderson, an Independent Unionist from the Shankill, raised his voice to answer, "God save the people".

Beattie and Henderson had a strong case:
  • There were nearly 80,000 unemployed: for the period 1931 to 1939, 27% of the insured workforce was out of work: it reached nearly 30% in February 1938.
  • Life expectancy was 57 years.
  • Maternal death-rates were rising -- by a fifth between 1922 and 1938.
  • Half of all juvenile deaths were through infectious disease (a quarter more than urban England).
  • TB was rampant, 20% higher than anywhere in the UK.
A decade of Unionist supremacy had brought the city of Belfast from being among the most profitable and prosperous of the Kingdom to abject paupery.

On the following Monday the demonstrations started. On Wednesday the police repeatedly baton-charged the protesters, driving them back to Sandy Row. The Government banned all marches.

By the following Tuesday, Catholics from Seaforde Avenue were attempting rescues of Protestants from Black Marias. There were barricades in the Lower Falls, where police fired shots: two deaths (one Prod, one Mick: fourteen wounded). A curfew was called. There was a further death from shooting.

The Government capitulated and the relief substantially increased. The funerals of the victims became demonstrations of cross-community solidarity.

In 1934, the Republican Congress was successful in organising in Belfast, including among Protestants in the Shanklin and Ballymacarrat.

This led to a moment that defies credence or analysis.

Large numbers from Belfast went south to the Wolfe Tone commemoration on June 17, 1934. On the way they laid a wreath on Connolly's grave at Arbour Hill.

The IRA leadership believed some Republican Congress stunt was intended. They forbade all banners at Bodenstown. The Shankill contingent had banners, such as:

Wolfe Tone Commemoration 1934
Shankill Road Belfast Branch
Break the Connection with Capitalism.

The Tipperary IRA followed instructions, and moved in to confiscate the banners:
The Belfast men defended their banner. The Tipperary men saw it as a Communist banner. Bodenstown has not witnessed a more ironic scene: Catholics attacking Protestants trying to honour Wolfe Tone ...
Thus Seán Cronin, in the (sadly, out-of-print) Frank Ryan biography. Much of the rest of the preceding section derives from Jonathan Bardon. No apologies for a good story.

To conclude:

McIntyre is sadly, badly mistaken. His 'republicanism' may have gone to execution on Good Friday: no great loss therein. The true radical moment, north and south, is yet to come.

For the time being, the northern economy has the shock-absorber of that £9+ billion of Westminster subsidy. The RoI Government makes gestures, and NI politicos regularly head to Dublin, like Oliver Twist, in hope of a few more crumbs. Let it be remembered (as Bardon pertinently noted, apparently using figures from the early 1990s):
If the republic ... had to take over the annual subsidy from the United Kingdom exchequer to Northern Ireland, it would cost every citizen there on average £570 -- more than fifteen times the present sum for every person in Britain.
As we enter, perhaps, a decade of a Kondratieff winter, such largesse is not going to repeat itself, and not going to be underwritten by Dublin.

Then there is the changing political environment.

The Cameroonies are using Blasted Boris in London as a test-bed. On present performance that means cuts, cuts, cuts to fund the core vote in the leafy suburbs in a later pre-election give-away. No great departure in Tory policy there, then. How much a few DUP or UUP Parliamentary votes are worth, to either Party, depends on the English electorate of 2009, or whenever.

Public pensions, health and education apart (all heavily dependent on continuing Westminster subsidy and on the lavish public expenditure by Labour in recent years), the Northern Ireland salariat and wage-earners have more in common with mortgagees and tenants down south than with those in Finchley or Harrogate.

Once that penny drops, there will be a truly revolutionary moment.

Now, what was that about the soul's slow and dark birth,
more mysterious than the birth of the body?
Sphere: Related Content
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