Tuesday 27 April, 2021

In a rural garden

Max Hastings is not carried away by the new ‘Global Britain’ aircraft-carrier

This interview on yesterday’s BBC Today programme made my day. I hope it also makes yours.


Quote of the Day

“I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son-of-a-bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in gaol.”

  • Harry Truman on General Douglas MacArthur

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Chris McMullan playing Amazing Grace


I’ve always thought of this as a somewhat hackneyed tune. Not this version, though.

Long Read of the Day

What Substack is really doing to the media

Insightful essay by Will Oremus.

The current excitement about Substack (the outfit that I use to publish the daily version of this blog) is a classic case of how intellectual chatter falls into Michael Mann’s trap of “the sociology of the last five minutes”. Substack is great for writers because it enables them to earn a crust — or a fortune — from their work and ‘liberates’ them (if that’s the right word) from media organisations that were formerly their employers. But it does little or nothing for news — the lifeblood of a functioning liberal democracy because a huge proportion of what’s on Substack is just opinion. Nothing wrong with that — a vibrant public sphere needs a diversity of opinion. But Substack does nothing to solve the existential problem of the withering away of organisations that do real journalism — the heavy lifting of holding power to account.

Well worth your time.

Dan Kaminsky RIP

A celebrated — and much-loved — information security expert has died from diabetic ketoacidosis at the age of 42.

Iain Thompson has a lovely obituary of him on The Register.

When your Register hack asked Kaminsky why he hadn’t gone to the dark side and used the flaw to become immensely wealthy – either by exploiting it to hijack millions of netizens’ web traffic, or by selling details of it to the highest bidders – he said not only would that have been morally wrong, he didn’t want his mom to have to visit him in prison.

If you want to see what he was like, try this DEFCON talk.

And thanks to Cory Doctorow for spotting a bad typo (now fixed).

Boris Johnson as Lear?

Lovely blast from Jonty Bloom.

There has been much talk this weekend about how the PM has been ranting about the betrayal of Dominic Cummings and is now like King Lear driven half mad. Wrong play, wrong King.

Boris Johnson is Macbeth; he seized the crown in an act of utterly selfish betrayal, destroying any semblance of honesty, integrity and decency along the way. Then he purged those who didn’t support him, trust him or believe him; in a bloodbath that left him surrounded by sycophants, liars, chancers and back stabbers.

It would be nice to think this all might end like Macbeth. With the usurper destroyed and a rightful and decent leader supported by the whole country once again in power. The trouble is if the PM does fall he will be replaced with another courtier, quite possibly even worse than he is. Yep.

How to improve your writing

This, from Dave Winer’s blog, is good advice.

It reminds me of something I read somewhere but can’t remember where (you know the feeling) which went like this: “always re-read your work carefully, and whenever you come upon a particularly fine passage, strike it out”. I thought it was Sam Johnson, but it’s not. Wonder if anyone out there knows it

Other, hopefully interesting, links

  • Huge ‘superyacht’ squeezes through narrow Dutch canals. Link A reminder — if you needed one — that any mogul rich enough to own one of these ludicrous vessels ought to be taxed until his pips squeak.

  • Earth has shifted on its axis due to melting of ice Link

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