Sunday, March 23, 2014

Poetry Sunday - Old Misunderstandings

Old Misunderstandings

I have a fear that in three thousand years,
When science texts become the bible,
But people stay the same
As they came three thousand years ago
when tribal,
That when they read about our quantum deeds
And quirky quarks with spin and charm
They'll be alarmed.
Religiously they'll say it is not so
But libel.
Our scientists, then, will likely be condemned
In that time for preaching lies
When all they tried
To metaphorically record
The grand, uncertain plan or story
Of something they didn't understand
In all its glory.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Quote for St. Patrick's Day

The English language brings out the best in the Irish. They court it like a beautiful woman. They make it bray with donkey laughter. They hurl it at the sky like a paint pot full of rainbows, and then make it chant a dirge for man's fate and man's follies that is as mournful as misty spring rain crying over the fallow earth….  Rarely has a people paid the lavish compliment and taken the subtle revenge of turning its oppressor's speech into sorcery.

T E Kalem

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Quote of the Day

Before John le Carré became a writer, he was an agent for both MI5 and MI6.  While still in the service, he got to know John Bingham, the famed British counter-intellignce agent.  Described as a “genius” agent,  Bigham ran a brilliant operation convincing British Nazi sympathizers that he was a representative of the Gestapo looking for people who could be relied on to help in the event of an invasion.  See The spy who turned Hitler’s British supporters into unwitting double agents.  In any event, Bingham ended up being part of the inspiration for le Carré's George Smiley.

Anyway, with this context I present you with the quote of the day (adding to the discussion, perhaps, about the current revelations of NSA surveillance and drone strikes):

SIR – John Bingham and I were indeed close friends and colleagues. I had, and shall always have, unqualified admiration for his intelligence skills and achievements. He was a most honourable, patriotic and gifted man, and we had wonderful times together.
And surely there can be few better tributes to a friend and colleague than to create – if only from some of his parts – a fictional character, George Smiley, who has given pleasure and food for thought to an admiring public.
But Bingham was of one generation, and I of another. Where Bingham believed that uncritical love of the Secret Services was synonymous with love of country, I came to believe that such love should be examined. And that, without such vigilance, our Secret Services could in certain circumstances become as much of a peril to our democracy as their supposed enemies.
John Bingham may indeed have detested this notion. I equally detest the notion that our spies are uniformly immaculate, omniscient and beyond the vulgar criticism of those who not only pay for their existence, but on occasion are taken to war on the strength of concocted intelligence.
David Cornwell (John le Carré)  
London NW3
Letter to the Daily Telegraph March 5, 2014.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

For Poetry Sunday, this is from Renee who heard it from her 12th grade history teacher and has stuck with her since.

When you get all you want and you struggle for pelf,
and the world makes you king for a day,
then go to the mirror and look at yourself
and see what that man has to say.
For it isn't your mother, your father or wife
whose judgment upon you must pass,
but the man, whose verdict counts most in your life
is the one staring back from the glass.
He's the fellow to please,
never mind all the rest.
For he's with you right to the end,
and you've passed your most difficult test
if the man in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
And think you're a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world,
down the highway of years,
and take pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
       if you've cheated the man in the glass.
                       Dale Wimbrow, (c) 1934