Friday 19 January, 2024


Well, it is cold around here just now.

Quote of the Day

”The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”

  • André Gide

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Sony Terry & Brownie McGee | Bring it on home to me


Decades ago, I heard them play in the Cambridge Guildhall. The kind of evening one never forgets.

Long Read of the Day

 Davos duplicity

This is the week of the nauseating annual gabfest in Switzerland, in which powerful elites gather to smooch and do virtue-signalling. It’s mostly pass-the-sickbag stuff, but this year’s edition is really OTT: the ‘theme’ is “Rebuilding Trust”, which is beyond satire, given that most of the big US corporations are there.

Robert Reich’s blog post nails it. These titans have been confessing, apparently, how worried they are that Trump will be re-elected.

“Yet”, observes Reich,

”many of them are fueling Trump and political upheaval in America by continuing to bankroll the 147 members of Congress who refused to certify Joe Biden’s victory on January 6, 2021.

Recall that after the certification vote and storming of the Capitol, a cavalcade of big corporations announced with great fanfare that they had stopped making political contributions to these 147.

Since then, most have resumed campaign donations to them — thereby helping the deniers get reelected and threatening the stability of American democracy.

All told, at least 228 of America’s biggest (Fortune 500) corporations — representing more than two-thirds of some 300 companies with political action committees — have given $26.3 million to election deniers during the 2021-2024 election cycles…

Do read it. But check your blood-pressure first.

My commonplace booklet

Invisible Ink: At the CIA’s Creative Writing Group

What, you didn’t know the CIA had a creative writing group? Me neither. Not the propaganda department, either; ‘Real’ creative writing. But first you have to negotiate the parking problems at Langley.

Fabulous essay by Johannes Lichtman in The Paris Review.

On the agreed-upon morning a few weeks later, I left my apartment in D.C. and drove into the haze of Canadian wildfire smoke that was floating over the city. By the time I turned off the George Washington Parkway at the George Bush Center for Intelligence exit, and on to a restricted usage road, I was already nervous. I’m the kind of person who weighs and measures my suitcases before flying, lest I be scolded at the airport, and I do not like driving down roads with signs like EMPLOYEES ONLY and WILL BE ARRESTED.

At the gate intercom, I gave my name and social security number—Vivian had gathered this information and more ahead of time, over a series of phone calls, each from a different phone number—and a police officer gave me a visitor’s badge that was to be displayed on my person at all times. He warned me that I was to be escorted at all times.

I met Vivian in a lot between the first gate and the second gate, where her car was the only one parked. She gave me another badge that appeared identical to the first. I left my phone in my car as instructed, and we got into Vivian’s car and drove to the second gate. That was when things started not going as planned.

Four agitated police officers blocked our way.

“He can’t leave his car here!” they yelled when Vivian rolled down her window.

“But I cleared this ahead of time,” Vivian said.

“He can’t leave his car here. It’s a security risk.”

“But how am I supposed to escort him if we can’t drive together?”

“Ma’am,” one of them said, “I just do parking.” Read on.

It gets better. Nice to know that the fate of Western civilisation is in the hands of these guys.


Something I noticed, while drinking from the Internet firehose.

  •  How is AI education going to work?. In two different ways, according to Tyler Cowen.

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