Drunk neat at room temperature: oh, no.
To be continued…
There'll be a better way of summing up what follows than the title I chose, but it'll do. I'm referring to the monologue Andrew Neil delivered a couple of nights ago, a bunch of words strung together to invoke national pride on our past, and which was subsequently described as, well, read the article here:
"'Churchillian!' Viewers hail Andrew Neil's INCREDIBLE monologue on Westminster attack". (from The Daily Express newspaper, 2017-03-24.)
I happen to like Andrew Neil. His no-nonsense approach to interviewing sits well with me. His sarcasm, always it seems tinged with an impish glee upon finding a politician wanting, fits my needs far better than the always-annoyed Jeremy Paxman ever did, he doesn't needlessly interrupt his guests as they're answering his questions as does Andrew Marr. But his monologues irritate me. They always go on a bit too long, and always keep me from why I watch his late-night programme: to learn what's going on in the world of politics.
Before I continue, I haven't watched this edition of his show, I'm relying on the Daily Telegraph's editors to show me a full picture of what transpired on the night. Yeah…
The key phrases from Mr Neil are:
"Do you have any idea who you’re dealing with? This is the country that stood up alone to the might of the Luftwaffe, air force of the greatest evil mankind has ever known. If you think we’re going to be cowed by some pathetic, Poundland terrorist in an estate car with a knife, then you’re as delusional as you are malevolent."
Fine words that would have made sense in an era vastly-different from the one in which we live, an era in which it was easy to spot the source of terror, the evil across a tiny stretch of water known as the English Channel.
Fine words which conveniently ignore the fact that this isn't the 1940's.
During those times, and in general terms only, the only loose parallel I can make is that of an entire nation aspiring to impose its ideologies upon the rest of the world. That as-opposed to taking over other nations by armed might and controlling them by repressive regimes; something the British would conveniently ignore. When their politics failed to spread much beyond the German border, war became inevitable, at which point other alliances were built, sides taken.
It was a war propelled by the industrial might of nations, their armed forces' skills honed by regional conflicts outside, initially at least, Germany's borders. It was a war of technological superiority, of a rapid development of new instruments of war applied effectively against adversaries who didn't expect another conflict, especially with the smug, humiliating victory of The War To End All Wars.
And then there's the media. During the Second World War the British were lucky to read or hear about major events within days, even if the British government deemed it acceptable that ordinary citizens knew what was going on. The newspapers were censored; the radio was mostly censored, save for the enemy's propaganda broadcasts; the newsreels shown in cinemas showed only British propaganda. No satellite-fed coverage, no 24 hour telly, no social media gossip-spreading, no instant messaging.
People all over the world listened to what Mr Churchill said, and believed it. They listened to what Mr Hitler said and believed it. There was nothing else.
'Intelligence' is a word often derided nowadays when a terror attack happens. The futility of the security services monitoring everything for that 'just in case' scenario was shown up nicely by the events of mid-last week; a man simply not monitored for links to terror plunges a nation into crisis.
But how was it during WWII? Well, the British successfully created fake airfields filled with fake aircraft, and the high-level (or fast low-level) reconnaissance flights provided compelling evidence that the enemy strategists were fooled. Fields of fake tanks and other fake armoured vehicles at other times had the same effect. Surveillance technology was simply ineffective against what might now be termed laughable subterfuge. Maps were often hopelessly out-of-date; even the things we take for granted now: accurate digital mapping, aerial and pseudo-3D street-level walkthroughs were the stuff of next-millennial science fiction.
Nowadays it's well established that the industrial might of a nation can be trivially assessed by picking up a phone and Googling for statistics. Seventy years ago it was guesswork, all of it. If the enemy had known how close Britain's Air Force was to running out of aeroplanes and the means of manufacturing more, this world may have been a vastly different place. Intelligence failed. Perhaps it'd be kinder to say the British resolve triumphed, because that's what we want to believe.
In short what we're facing now is utterly unlike anything we've experienced previously.
I say 'we' conveniently ignoring the millions in the Middle East who must deal with this kind of hell on a daily basis.
It's not the threat of a nation clad impeccably and riding iron steeds, no. It's the threat of the ordinary man or woman or child radicalised by the unending and implacable hatred of those who simply don't care about anyone but those with whom with imagined special relationships are key. It's the threat that each and every one of them needs only a knife and a car to commit unspeakable acts. It's the knowledge that anyone can kill or maim or destroy using the most basic of tools, the knowledge that just because someone looks different or doesn't look different they can achieve the same ends.
I intended to close with the sarcastic 'Aren't we lucky to live now?', intending to show that ignorance was indeed bliss 70 years ago. Not knowing how perpetually close to defeat Britain was helped morale immensely. Not knowing that the rationing of basic foodstuffs and household essentials would last far beyond the end of the war, it helped too.
I'll instead close with this blog post from 2016, 'Nice' which refers to my near-identical post from 2015. If I'd started blogging earlier there'd be others pointing out the folly of allowing ignorance to fester, of allowing jingoistic nationalism to grow unchallenged.
As is usual I've not proof-read this knee-jerk reaction.
The doorbell was rung a few minutes ago: 2 guys, one introduced both as security consultants. I said 'no thanks, I'm not interested', and moved to shut the door, and here's where the depressingly-predictable thing occurred…
Yes, as the pattern usually unfolds, he actually asked me, and condescendingly of course: "Do you know what we're selling?" His exact words.
Um… I'm no rocket scientist but he had a few brochures fanned out in his hand, he'd introduced his profession, they both had impressive ID cards on lanyards, so I hazarded a guess, a wild stab at "Well, you're security consultants, is it alarms? It's alarms."
He seemed surprised.
Cold callers expect their cheery welcome to be reciprocated. This one didn't even try.
We've had someone purporting to be registered by the local authority asking, after my "yes" to "are you a family man?", how many children I have and what their ages are, and where they go to school and…. She was surprised, visibly offended that I said "it's none of your business, if you want the data get the authority to write to me for it." The best bit, my wife told me she'd called earlier that day, had been rebuffed then too.
Others who introduce themselves by "We're not selling anything…" are annoyed by my Captain Obvious "Yes you are, what are you selling?"
Double glazing salesmen, given a sniff at a replacement window but told to wait a few months as we couldn't afford it that close to Christmas, getting their telephone sales department to ring not even 5 minutes after departing. He put the phone down on me as I was explaining how unimpressed I was.
I could go on but what would it achieve?
New Year's Resolutions kept: none, though the subtleties of the choices made leave me a modicum of wriggle room.
I just finished making dinner for me and the girls and realised something quite profound. My web site has existed in various forms and at various hosts over the 20 years since I arrived online. That's not the important thing, no. 2017 is the first year that events outside my control rendered the vast majority of its content obsolete.
Yes, this is another post about the collateral damage resulting from App.net's demise; though this one will thankfully be brief. Being honest, I don't see much point in writing much about the past now, the future is much more important. It's actually very easy for me to say that; the majority of people who made App.net special are at 10centuries.org or pnut.io right now. A nicely-distributed 'ADN2'. (http://adn2.larryanderson.org)
Back to my Wiki-type site. First the volunteer-driven App.net Wiki I helped edit expired, I stepped away from iOS, and then the network the App.net Wiki documented disappeared. Well, at least its infrastructure did. Ahhh…
My focus changed over the last year-and-a-half to blogging about what I'm thinking about, what I'm doing, and what makes me tick. A typical personal blog.
Maybe I should redirect incoming site requests to my 10C blog. or the more complete but less-social GitHub.com version or, heck, the trial self-hosted blog currently unloved and waiting for me to reconnect the Raspberry Pi 2 B mirroring it from the GitHub repo.
Talking Heads have had a major influence in my life. Subtle but major nonetheless. I'm now accustomed to the fact I'll never see them play live; it's taken me decades…
Prior to App.net's shut down for good I'd hoped a song could be played during the final #MondayNightDanceParty. Due to an unfortunate typo by yours truly that didn't happen. No matter, it's this:
Heaven (YouTube video)
It sums up what I think of ADN. Especially poignant is… oh, listen to it!
Tidying up my emotions after ADN's termination, here's a song which looks forward:
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) (YouTube video)
This user-requested software upgrade exchange didn't happen. I've made it up. Yes.[1337. Er… No, that's not exactly true. However the names have been changed to protect the identities of the guineapigs involvZzzz…]
"[folder name] There is a launcher in here [program name].exe which should install the shizzle."
Me, feeling cocky:
"We iz installing the shizzle on Jason’s machine. We think. :)"
Unfortunately due to the way [program name] works, its installer had a lie down instead of exhibiting the outward trappings of a performant conclusion.
Me, somewhat circumspect:
"Could you please start the [program name] upgrade on a few more machines after lunch/1pm? Ben, Zeb, John-Boy and John. Maybe Olivia and Mary-Ellen tomorrow."
'Please see below for the correct way to submit a request, as one of your colleagues seemed to nail it!
"Oh Great One,
Your humble servant requests that you fix [another program name] on my PC what not working (but did last week).
"Dear Sir or Madam of Awesomesauce,
This obsequious underling (initially examining but not limiting said examination to in this regard the relative vertical offsets between uppermost portions of cranial body parts) is desirous of your physical presence around these environs after the commencement and subsequent termination of the half-hour period in which the majority consume their midday repast to effect the increase in [program name]-related CAD and/or design productivity (post-button-fiddling-and-bitwise-cogitation) of a small number of my esteemed colleagues, to be occasioned by a heretofore successful manual implementation of a ‘soft ware upgrade’; those colleagues being namely by name: Ben of Sausage, Zeb of Sausage, John of Sausage, and John-Boy the, er… And, upon successful termination of the afore-to-alluded-to procedural black-box magic incantations, to examine the possibility of repeating the procedures on two further colleagues’ computing devices at a point not limited to a limited time within the limits of the next working day; those personnel being namely Olivia The Great of A-Specific-Sausage-Name-Analogy and Mary-Ellen The Great of Many-Bread-Product-Name-Analogies.
Yours in eager and trembling anticipatory raptures,
Mr or Mrs Turner.
p.s. The writer has determined that his or her [another program name] is also what not working (but what did earlier in the year.)"
Yes, of course he did it, tsk!
Just short of a millennium ago, and handily beating Project Gutenberg, the Chinese invented movable type. Thus began the slow march of the dissemination of things important and unimportant (though perhaps entertaining) through the intervening ten centuries towards this, our almost ephemeral, digital age.
As App.net (ADN) haltingly passes into the realm of myths and fables an 11th-hour equitable stay was granted by the legend that is @berg; time to fix and thus allow the network's inhabitants to download and unpack their digital memories.
24 more hours, the blink of an eye, and an ending somehow slightly less-memorable than of The Ides Of March; a date I'm sure that was chosen to be symbolic. Symbolic of what though?
How many Orcs though, how many Goblins, Men, Elves, nameless dark forces from the east, how many Trolls were slain during the time ADN shone? How many Adventures were had along the road? How many people met, spoke in hushed (and not-so-hushed) tones, whilst forging lasting alliances over cloudy ale and Elven Lembas bread?
Ok, enough allusions to Tolkien-esque worlds; wasn't it fun‽
I have invitation codes for both networks, just ask.
Do it, do it now, lest ye be eaten by a grue or (shudders) settle for Twitter!
Have you done it yet‽
Who knows, before we know it, people could be telling tales of our later legendary exploits.
Quite a few people have written (and spoken) quite a few words on the subject of App.net's imminent oblivion. I've written (and spoken) my fair share too! Right now I'm going to restrict myself to a very narrow definition of what helped make App.net (ADN: short for App Dot Net) special for me. Characters.
Yes, the people inhabiting the social network weren't your usual crowd, but it's not the people's characters I'm thinking of right now, no. It's the social post length. 256 characters of often lovingly-crafted posts on pretty-much any subject one could care to imagine. A chance to relax into the prose or the poem, the metaphor or the precise, the mundane, the interesting, exciting, the newsworthy (whether global, local or the deeply-personal) or the hyper-focused chats about topics directly-related to ADN.
I've never been able to summarise, so having the ability to footnote a social post still brings pleasure to me. 256-character posts allow one to relax knowing the chances of misinterpretation, if not entirely eliminated, are certainly lessened.
So there you have it. Or rather you don't; it'll be gone shortly: the plug will be pulled sometime during 2017-03-15 (though if living in a timeline to the east of San Francisco it's likely it'll be the 16th when things go dark.)
App.net: in total 2012 Q3 to 2017 Q1 with me from 2013 Q2 to the end; thanks to all you lovely people.
(An approximately 256 word post.)