Thursday, February 03, 2011

Fly Navy? No, Fly Neptunus

Neptunus Lex, that is.

If you don;t ever stop by, you really should. He's been blogging up a storm lately, and they're well worth the read. Such as:
  •   This piece on the accidental sinking of a Indian Navy frigate by a merchant ship. (We can laugh -and grumble - over this one; fortunately no one was hurt in the mishap.)

    Sayeth Lex: "Merchant ships entering harbor at a flank bell is why we can’t have nice things…"

  •   Or Lex's laconic summary of Western-Islamic relations:
    Anyone who has paid any attention to what’s left of the Ottoman Empire since it faded into dust has realized that the region remains afflicted to a greater or lesser degree by backwardness, economic dysfunction, corruption and political malaise. In fact, apart from Africa, scourged with its own unique diseases, no other region of the world so typifies these characteristics. The question of “what went wrong” to what had- not so very long ago – been one of the world’s most successfully aggressive empires has been asked and (mostly) answered: It will not do for a society desiring the fruits of modernity to, 1) close its mind to science and philosophy, even if it leads in uncongenial directions, 2) idle half its intellectual capital.

    Here, from an admittedly Orientalist point of view, is a ridiculously brief history of the last 1400 years or so:

    1. Who are you lot, and will you mind removing that spear from my side, it hurts.
    2. I’ll bash you for that, and take back the Holy Land as well.
    3. Fine then, have it. But I wouldn’t mind a bit of that algebra and medical science, if it’s all right.
    4. More Holy Land, please and if you don’t like it we’ll see you off.
    5. Fine then, have it.
    6. Wait, the Mediterranean is our ocean.
    7. Fine, have half.
    8. Wait, Constantinople is the capital of our faith.
    9. Fine, have it. (We need bigger ships.)
    10. It’s called “Spain,” not “al Andalus.” And what are you still doing here? Off you go.
    11. Wait, Vienna is a capital of our culture. And no, you can’t have it. No matter how many times you ask.
    12. (Some of those big cannon would go well aboard those ships, don’t you think?)
    13. We’d like the Med back, and are all too willing to take it – see those ships, and all those cannon? There’s a good culture.
    14. My name is Napoleon. Lovely place you have here, Egypt.
    15. Fine, have it back, courtesy of La Perfide Albion. You couldn’t have done it by yourself, you know.
    16. Train your military? Certainly, why not? We’re dreadfully good at industrial scale slaughter; it takes practice. And industry. We’ve got both.
    17. Fight your military? Certainly, why not? Especially when you’re going to ally yourselves with the Hun.
    18. Rather a mess you left behind, old boy. Shall we help you sort it out?
    19. What’s this, oil? Fascinating.
    20. We’ve invented fascism: Have some!
    21. Sorry about that.
    22. We’re busy among ourselves just now, can’t it wait?
    23. What a bother, you lot. Can’t you see we’re tired?
    24. Just call that fellow over there “king,” and we’ll be on our way. Do write.
    25. We’ve invented socialism: Have some!
    26. Sorry about that.
    27. I know you’re rather a mess, but then you always were. Want some expertise to get that oil out of the ground? There’s money in it. Win-win.
    28. I really wish you wouldn’t treat your people that way. More tea?
    29. I REALLY wish you wouldn’t treat our people that way. Stand by for a case of the a**.
    30. With nation building.
    31. Jesus C*****, this is hard!

    All caught up.

  •   And then, in a far more somber vein, is this contemplation of The New York Times' revelations about its role in the Wikileaks scandal.

    There’s obviously a self-serving element in Keller’s description of the events. The NYT and Guardian manage to carefully thread the needle between preserving the public’s right to know while responsibly declining to publish names that might get anyone killed. Directly, I mean. They don’t actually link to the Wikileaks site, containing the unredacted messages.

    They just, you know: Publicize it.

    The distinction helps them sleep at night.

    There's more; read the whole thing.