10
Sep
08

Mid-week misanthropy, vol. 16

This week’s misanthropy is tempered by a great (and rather unusual) altruism.  The good folk at CERN fired up the Large Hadron Collider today.  If you want to see some physicists see some muons, you’re in luck:

It warms my heart to know that, despite the seemingly insurmountable levels of idiocy in the world at large, we as a species and as a society can pull off this sort of science and engineering on an epic scale.

So far, the LHC has very ungraciously failed to end the world.  Its contribution to science won’t just be looking for the Higgs boson, but also showing once again that it doesn’t matter how hard you believe something (“something” in this case being “zOMG teh LHC is gonna kill us all!!1”) if reality disagrees.  A lot of people have invested a lot of time, money, and self-image in the dubious edifice of LHC paranoia, and to their detriment they’ve neglected the actual physics behind their claims.  I’d snark more, but Stingray of Atomic Nerds has penned a masterwork on the subject:

Go thou and read.

——

I’ve come across a few Brits with perhaps more enthusiasm for nationalism than for history who suggest that a return to the “times of Kipling” would cure what ails the Empire.  On the face of it, it seems understandable: the Royal Navy wasn’t a sideshow yet, the colonies had yet fully to sever their effective (rather than merely symbolic) links with “home”; all in all, Britain was the world’s largest superpower.

But folks, if you tempt Fate like that, she’s going to get angry.

A hotel that refused a wounded soldier a room, forcing him to spend the night in his car, was backed into a “grovelling” apology yesterday after receiving a barrage of abusive phone calls.

[…]

The attack on the switchboards came after it emerged that Corporal Tomos Stringer, 24, had been told by hotel staff that it was company policy not to accept members of the Armed Forces as guests.

Disgusting.

Somehow, I don’t think the golden-agers mentioned above had this work of Kipling’s in mind:

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

——

Speaking of the Brits and their armed forces: it’s been a while since I’ve had the occasion to complain about data privacy matters, and one of Her Majesty’s civil servants has given me a chance to do so.

One is often told that the government, in many ways a store-house of sensitive and personal data, is also diligent at protecting that data from loss or theft and subsequent abuse.  After all, they’re the government: bogeyman of thousands of bad novels and worse conspiracy theories, with legendary (and legendarily expensive) intelligence services.  One may be told this with particular heat by the British government, which displays an enthusiasm for indiscriminate domestic espionage that puts the Stasi to shame.

One is of course being — shall I put this delicately? — misled.

The discovery at a Cornish nightclub of a computer memory stick with details of troop movements on it is being probed by the Ministry of Defence.

The USB stick, outlining training for 70 soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, was found on the floor of The Beach in Newquay in May.

Times, locations and travel and accommodation details for the troops were included in files on the device.

Well, everyone fucks the dog once or twice, right?  It’s not as if this is a routine thing for the MoD.  Is it?

More than 120 USB memory sticks, some containing secret information, have been lost or stolen from the Ministry of Defence since 2004, it was reported earlier this year.

Some 26 of those disappeared this year – including three which contained information classified as “secret”, and 19 which were “restricted”.

Fuck.

——

Moving back across the pond: You might remember a Tory MP named Maxime Bernier.  No?  Too busy focusing on his hot at-the-time-girlfriend Julie Couillard?  That might explain some of the Tories’ recent poll numbers.

Fortunately for you, this chunk of misanthropy is only indirectly about Bernier, and more directly about Couillard.  Her autobiography will be released about a week before the federal election in October:

Julie Couillard is releasing her autobiography ahead of schedule, before the federal election, a decision that could embarrass the Conservatives with revelations about her affair with former cabinet minister Maxime Bernier.

The 320-page book was originally to be released on Oct. 14, Canada’s election day — but the English version will now be available in bookstores on Oct. 6.

It’s about damn time that we got some tawdry pillow-talk scandals going on again in federal Canadian politics.  The best this election’s produced to date is an animated puffin shitting on Stephane Dion — and, dammit, I know we can do better than that.

——

And finally: BC’s provincial Liberals have decided that showing up to work for the next four months is kind of a hassle, and they’re not going to bother:

Kind of gives the lie to the facile notion that they’re working for us.


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