Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Thought Police

Bill Clinton is right – the U.N. will prove to be a lot worse than the NSA.

Bill Clinton may be a crook (well forget the “may be” – he is a crook), but that does not mean he is not right – indeed it gives him an insight into corrupt minds. And not being in the service of a political ideology (being an “honest thief” rather than a “bitch” [a servant of the Soviets] – in the language of GULAG) he has no reason not to say what it is going on.

We now see what the Edward Snowden thing was really about (as well as giving the FSB some tips in the cyber war – stuff they most likely guessed at anyway). It was about discrediting United States control of the internet – thus giving Mr Obama an excuse to do what he always wanted to do. Hand over control of the internet to the United Nations international telecommunications union (read Russia, China and the Islamic powers). The NSA just wants to know what you are saying – the new masters of the internet (with no pesky First Amendment) will want to stop you saying it.

Was Mr Snowden just a useful idiot – or an FSB agent all along? I do not know – but the censorship of the internet (not practical under American control of the internet) is now a real possibility. Barack Obama may get his dream (control of speech – by P.C. doctrine) by the back door of the “international community”.

The young people (the ones who nod their heads at the “libertarians” on Mr Putin’s “Russia Today” television station) will not (yet) believe me. But the NSA (and yes the CIA also – people such as Mike Baker who risked his life so many times for young people who think he is a “Fascist”) were not the enemy (they never were). They (the NSA and the CIA) were not out to censor you. It is your “saviours” (the people you hero worship) who want to censor you.

“We are techno people, no censorship will work on us” – oh you silly people, that is not what censorship is about. Censorship is about the average person not seeing something.

The Egg Dance

I’ve recently got back from Amsterdam. Now I suppose it is moderately unusual to collapse into giggles in the Rijksmuseum’s section on Dutch 12th-17th Century art but I managed it. This is a detail from the picture that made me laugh…

That is a detail from The Egg Dance by Pieter Aertsen.

What made me laugh though was the caption next to it…

At right, in this brothel, a young man does an egg dance to the music of a bagpiper. While dancing, he had to roll an egg within a chalk circle – without it breaking – and to cover it with a wooden bowl. This ‘pointless’ amusement, along with the dissolute behaviour of the other figures, served as a moral warning against debauchery.

Emphasis mine. I just loved the phrase “This ‘pointless’ amusement”. Sums up life really. Less, seriously though, this was painted in 1552 and I guess you had to make your own amusement back then. The Rijksmuseum does also boast a large collection of impedimenta for drinking games. An inventive (if drunken) lot those renaissance Dutch.

In fact it stuck in my mind so much that upon my return I googled (I think the term is so ubiquitous as to have lost the capital like “hoover” has) the picture. I found this.

Now one of the first things I wondered was why the Rijksmuseum was so sure it was a brothel. To me (and my wife) it just looked like a fairly chaotic party in a home…

At the back of the room an old man is playing the bagpipes. Because of its shape, the instrument often symbolised the male genitalia. In the window is a jug containing a leek, a vegetable of the onion family. A sixteenth-century viewer would immediately have realised that the scene was a room in a brothel. Onions were supposed to be a stimulant. All around lie onion flowers, leek leaves and mussels, which were supposed to have the same quality. It was also thought to be true of eggs, the theme of the painting.

OK, the bagpipes I kinda got already. That’s a bit of a classic (cf Hieronymous Bosch)…

… Or indeed this. It is amazing how, across culture, time and geography, symbolism can be both steady yet sometimes obscure like the leek. Though that might explain the perennial appeal of Sir Tom Jone