I Liked Ike

Susan Eisenhower, the granddaughter of Dwight D Eisenhower, wrote an article for the Washington Post in 2011 with the title 50 years later, we’re still ignoring Ike’s warning. Her article referred to the ‘Farewell Address to the Nation’ made by her grandfather 50 years earlier, in which he said:  

“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together”. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation, January 17 1961

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Marrano – a short story

How many times have I gazed at his sketches and read his letters I muse, fifty, one hundred, more? Sometimes smiling, sometimes quietly weeping, sometimes doing both, afraid that failing in this ritual would eventually lead to all memories of Abraham fading. Perhaps this visit to Abraham’s favourite Café is really a pilgrimage? There’s L’église Saint Germain des Prés, just as Abraham sketched it and the cartoon clearly shows a view of …

My recognition of the scenes around me are interrupted by someone excitedly calling, “Señor Hubsch! Señor Hubsch!” A waiter is trotting towards me, his face a beaming smile, his arms outstretched, finally embracing me as he might a returning son. Stepping back his face assumes a sad expression, there are tears in eyes as he places his hands on my shoulders: “Señor Hubsch, I never expected to see you again, they took so many and so few have returned. I’m so sorry, so sorry,” almost whispering, “Where is Mademoiselle Rebecca?” Confused, I don’t answer. He breaks my silence, saying in a consolatory manner: “Never mind Señor Hubsch, you’re back and look, your favourite table is free. Please – come and sit down while I bring your café.” Leading me to the table, he pulls out a chair for me and sits me down, briefly patting my shoulder before vanishing back into the restaurant. Read more of this post

A Tale of Two Maggots

An article that I read supporting Malthusian theory and a post on My Telegraph concerning vegans and speciesism, reminded me of entomophagy, which I introduced in Jiminy Cricket. Those readers who recognise ‘A Tale of Two Maggots’ as an allusion to Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, should be aware that the French connection is not Les Deux Magots. This is the name of a famous Paris restaurant that I used as my setting for Marrano. Located in St-Germain-des-Prés, the restaurant is named after the two figurines (les deux magots) on display and has no connection with maggots or entomophagy. Read more of this post

Number 6

Do the press see their readerships more as citizens or as consumers?¹

The philosopher Jürgen Habermas has argued that modern capitalist society has seen the decline of ‘the public sphere’ and that the mass media encourage a view of people as consumers rather than as citizens. Research into some British Newspapers suggests that Habermas is right. Read more of this post

The Magic System


In the last hundred years […] advertising has developed from the simple announcements of shopkeepers and the persuasive arts of a few marginal dealers into a major part of capitalist business organization. This is important enough, but the place of advertising in society goes far beyond this commercial context. It is increasingly the source of finance for a whole range of general communication, to the extent that in 1960 our majority television service and almost all our newspapers and periodicals could not exist without it. Further, in the last forty years and now at an increasing rate, it has passed the frontier of the selling of goods and services and has become involved with the teaching of social and personal values; it is also rapidly entering the world of politics. Advertising is also, in a sense, the official art of modern capitalist society: it is what ‘we’ put up in ‘our’ streets and use to fill up to half of ‘our’ newspapers and magazines: and it commands the services of perhaps the largest organized body of writers and artists, with their attendant managers and advisers, in the whole society. Since this is the actual social status of advertising, we shall only understand it with any adequacy if we can develop a kind of total analysis in which the economic, social and cultural facts are visibly related. We may then also find, taking advertising as a major form of modern social communication, that we can understand our society itself in new ways. Read more of this post

Grading The War On Terror

Lincoln, Civil Liberties, and the Constitution proposes a grading system for those Presidents of the United States of America who enacted special ‘internal security measures‘ in a time of war. Mark Neely ‘graded’ four American Presidents, according to an analysis of their administration’s response to the internal security measures they enacted. He asked three simple questions that were all about behaviour and not about the law. Read more of this post

Lincoln, Civil Liberties, and the Constitution

My post Grading The War On Terrorwas prompted by my listening to a talk given by Mark Neely – McCabe Greer Professor in the American Civil War Era (Penn State University). The talk, given on behalf of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, is shown as the first video and the following text is my – edited – transcript of that talk. There are links added to my transcript where something useful may be found. Mark Neely frequently refers to ‘Our Lincoln’, which is a reference to the book Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World, a collection of essays compiled and edited by Eric Foner (pdf reviewed by Jason Miller). Mark Neely contributed the essay ‘Civil Liberties and the Constitution’ to the book and this is the essay to which Neely refers in his opening remark.  Read more of this post

Whom the Gods would destroy

 My posts on matter considered obscene, reminded me of the 1930 case when Sir Ethelred Rutt K.C., had the misfortune of appearing before a full Bench of magistrates on behalf of the headmaster (a clergyman) of Eton College. Certain publications had been found at Eton College by a Police Constable Boot in his zealous discharge of a special warrant, whereupon the headmaster was charged under Lord Campbell’s Act, England’s first obscenity statute. The headmaster admitted that the publications kept on the premises were to be ‘sold, distributed, lent, or otherwise published’ – within the meaning of the Act – to the students under his charge, who were from thirteen to nineteen years of age. Read more of this post



AT Windsor to-day, before a full Bench of magistrates, a serious charge was made against the Head Master of Eton, a clergyman, who appeared to feel his position acutely. Police-Constable Boot gave evidence in support of the charge, which was preferred under the – Obscene Publications Act, 1857, commonly known as Lord Campbell’s Act. Read more of this post

Philip Larkin meets the moderators.

The My Telegraph site arbitrarily imposes automated censorship on expletives, which seems like a neat solution but it completely disregards the context. I was recently unable to call King Charles II ‘a bastard’, an expletive that I had cause to believe was an apt description of his vindictive pursuit of the ‘regicides’. By way of a response to this – unwarranted – moderation I posted Everything in moderation? which was replete with ‘bastards’. While the gratuitous use of obscenities is forbidden by The Telegaph, the presumption being that profanities are forbidden, gratuitousness is dependent on context.

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