Logical boomerangs

October 20, 2006

Unfunny but interesting Tate Britain Lecture given by Armando Iannucci. He quotes a couple of “stunning reversals of all logic”. First George Bush’s remark made last year about the constant attacks on US troops in Iraq: “The insurgents are being defeated; that’s why they’re continuing to fight.”
Secondly, ‘an even stranger utterance from Tony Blair at Labour’s 2004 Conference when he defended his actions by saying: “Judgments aren’t the same as facts. Instinct is not science. I only know what I believe.” I only know what I believe. I find that one of the most chilling statements uttered by a seemingly rational politician. Apart from the fact that it overturns about 16 centuries of western philosophy and questions the entire principle of scientific inquiry, it’s also, surely, how the Taliban get through their day.’

To his credit, Blair also included this sentence in the same passage:
‘I’m like any other human being, as fallible and as capable of being wrong.’ The trouble is Mr Blair seems to fall back on these overtly humble admissions whilst at the same time justifying his decisions in terms of faith rather than reason.
One or two other choice reversals of logic from my collection:
– Nelba Blandon, of the Nicaragua Interior Ministry: “They [La Prensa] accused us of suppressing freedom of expression. This was a lie and we could not let them publish it.”

– A spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, Tasnim Aslam : “Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence.”

– Councillor Priestley, Mayor of Lincoln c. 1958 “There is no homlessness problem in Lincoln. This is just a rumour put about by people who have nowhere to live.”

– “Outside of the killings, [Washington] has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.” — Marion Barry, Mayor of Washington, D.C.

– I want the Nobel Peace Prize and I’m going to fight for it. — Ronaldinho

– Finally, in a different vein, the unnamed doctor’s receptionist the last time I tried to register for a doctor in the UK. ‘Are you in good health?’, she asked ‘because if you’re not, we can’t take you on’.


quotes about diplomacy

September 10, 2006

Here are some quotes about diplomats and diplomacy. Oddly enough, not all of them are complimentary.
A diplomat is a man who always thinks twice before saying nothing. Marion Howard
In diplomatic life something always happens in the midst of something else. Lord Gore-Booth
Diplomacy is the art of saying “nice doggie” until you can find a rock to throw, William Catlin
Diplomacy is to do and say
The nastiest thing in the nicest way. Isaac Goldberg
In order to be a diplomat one must speak a number of languages, including double-talk. Carey McWilliams
Diplomacy is the art of fishing tranquilly in troubled waters Christopher Herold
Diplomacy: the art of jumping into troubled waters without making a splash. Art Linklater
Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way. Daniele Vare
I have discovered the art of fooling diplomats: I speak the truth and they never believe me. Di Cavour
American diplomacy is easy on the brain but hell on the feet. Charles Dawes
Hypocrisy is the Vaseline of diplomatic intercourse Author Unknown
America never lost a war or won a conference. Will Rogers
Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us. John F. Kennedy
The principle of give and take is the principle of diplomacy – give one and take ten. Mark Twain
A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age. Robert Frost
An ambassador is an honest man who is sent to lie abroad for the good of his country. Sir Henry Wotton
How is the world ruled and how do wars start? Diplomats tell lies to journalists and then believe what they read. Karl Kraus
In archaeology you uncover the unknown. In diplomacy you cover the known. Thomas Pickering
Diplomacy without an army is like music without instruments. Frederick the Great of Prussia
In any country diplomacy and the press are uneasy adversaries. The diplomat believes the less said the better. The press thrives on public utterances. David Newsom
Diplomacy is unfashionable in the world of knee-jerk reaction and the dogmatic sound bite on television. Douglas Hurd
All war represents a failure of diplomacy. Tony Benn
International arbitration may be defined as the substitution of many burning questions for a smoldering one.
Ambrose Bierce
Sincere diplomacy is no more possible than dry water or wooden iron. Joseph Stalin
A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip. Caskie Stinnett
To say nothing, especially when speaking, is half the art of diplomacy. Will Durant
Diplomats are useful only in fair weather. As soon as it rains they drown in every drop. Charles de Gaulle
When a diplomat says yes he means perhaps; when he says perhaps he means no; when he says no he is no diplomat. Author Unknown
A diplomat’s life is made up of three ingredients: Protocol, Geritol, and alcohol. Adlai E. Stevenson
A Foreign Secretary is forever poised between the cliché and the indiscretion. Harold MacMillan
Diplomacy: The business of handling a porcupine without disturbing the quills. Author Unknown
Diplomacy: The patriotic art of lying for one’s country. Ambrose Bierce
Alliance: In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted into each others’ pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third. Ambrose Bierce
Whatever it is that government does, sensible Americans would prefer that the government do it to somebody else. This is the idea behind foreign policy. P.J. O’Rourke, Parliament of Whores
A nation with a goofy foreign policy needs a very serious policy of defense. P.J. O’Rourke
Diplomacy is verbal massage Author Unknown
To act with doubleness towards a man whose own conduct was double, was so near an approach to virtue that it deserved to be called by no meaner name than diplomacy. George Eliot
Consul. In American politics, a person who having failed to secure an office from the people is given one by the Administration on condition that he leave the country. Ambrose Bierce
An ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle. Walter Bagehot
Two words that are anathema to diplomats are ‘true’ and ‘know’. Diplomats are not interested in what is true but in what is convenient. They want as few people as possible to know as little as possible about almost nothing. Author Unknown

Actually, my favourite is not a quotation at all. I found it in an ironmongery shop in Istanbul (forget the Bosphorus, the Grand Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, when you’re in Istanbul be sure to visit the ironmongers- for one thing they are less likely to be the target of extremist attacks). I found a retractable ruler which was called simply ‘the Diplomat’. Curious to see why it had been given that label, I read further and discovered that “when pressed, retracts immediately.” Well, I thought it was funny, anyway.

They play a very mixed style of football, maybe because of their geography.(Sven-Goran Eriksson)

When asked about the rift and comments from Southgate’s book, the England manager (Eriksson) said: ‘I haven’t read what he said, but everyone has his opinion about things. ‘We live in a democratic country and have to accept that. I don’t have any problems with that. I am what am and at my age I cannot change that.”

Would he confirm his intention to see out his contract, which began in February 2001 and is due to expire after the 2006 World Cup? Well,” he said, “if you take the position I had one week ago, nothing has changed. Nothing has changed.” (Eriksson)

“I am happy when our fans are happy, when our players are happy and our chairman is on the moon.” (Claudio Ranieri)

“If you count your chickens before they’ve hatched, they won’t lay an egg.” (Bobby Robson)

“He’s very fast and if he gets a yard ahead of himself nobody will catch him.” (Bobby Robson)

“Some of the goals were good, some of the goals were sceptical.” (Bobby Robson)

“Tottenham have impressed me – they haven’t thrown in the towel even though they have been under the gun.” (Bobby Robson)

“Alan Shearer has done very well for us, considering his age. We have introduced some movement into his game because he has got two good legs now. Last season he played with one leg.” (Bobby Robson)

“I’d say he’s the best in Europe, if you put me on the fence.” (Bobby Robson)

“We didn’t underestimate them. They were just a lot better than we thought.” (Bobby Robson)

“When Gazza was dribbling, he used to go through a minefield with his arm, a bit like you go through a supermarket.” (Bobby Robson)

“I hear Glenn Hoddle has found God, that must have been one hell of a pass.” ( Jasper Carrott)

“…and now it’s Keane with Butt spread wide” Radio 5 Live during commentary on a Man Utd game

“Tell the Kraut to get his ass up front. We don’t pay a million for a guy to hang around in defence.” NY Cosmos executive, on Beckenbauer’s positioning
“The only way we will be going to Europe is if the club splash out and take us all to Eurodisney.”
Dean Holdsworth, Wimbledon

“I never comment on referees and I’m not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat.”
Ron Atkinson

“Jean Tigana has spent the entire first half inside Liam Brady’s shorts.” immy Magee

“I couldn’t settle in Italy – it was like living in a foreign country.” Ian Rush, (ex-Liverpool) when asked how he enjoyed his time at Juventus

“I came to Nantes two years ago and it’s very much the same, except that it’s completely different.” Kevin Keegan

“It took a lot of bottle for Tony to own up.” Ian Wright, on the Arsenal captain’s confession to alcoholism

“I’ve told the players we need to win, so that I can raise the cash to buy some new ones. Chris Turner, Peterborough Manager,before the League Cup Quarter Finals in 1992.”

“I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars, the rest I just squandered.” George Best

“If we played like that every week, we wouldn’t be so inconsistent.” Bryan Robson, Manchester United, 1990

“That’s great, tell him he’s Pele, and get him back on.” John Lambie, Partick Thistle Manager, when told his concussed striker did not know who he was.

“If the players want to make it hard for me, I’m happy to make it twice as hard for them.” Wendy Toms, the first female referee to officiate in a professional game.

“Macho? Moi?”
“He didn’t like heads, did he?” on Henry Moore

The Today programme’s host John Humphrys asked whether Members of Parliament would be allowed to debate the issue of military action in Iraq and whether they would be allowed to make any decisions. Mr Prescott explained: ‘The Prime Minister has said when the matter becomes a decision or if these matters are taken into consideration, there will be a debate on it.’ Later in the interview he said: ‘The Prime Minister has made it quite clear that at the appropriate time there will be a discussion in Parliament if such decisions have been taken.’ ‘There will be a decision in Parliament?’ enquired Mr Humphrys. Replied Mr Prescott: ‘There will be a kind of decision. Because every time we have had decisions on these matters they’ve usually been on the adjournment of the House, but that will be judged at the appropriate time. The Prime Minister will make the decision. That is why he is the Prime Minister, and Parliament will be involved in the debate.’

“On housing and charities you have difficulties about the financing of long-term finances affecting those housing, very real problems and I’m sure that we agree with them, but it was good for conference but it wasn’t much action, it was an awful lot of getting the conference going, yes I will give way.”

“I would like to make some start in my speech.”

“The city of York already is a city, as is my own city of Hull is a city, and that I think is the definition of city and town.”

“It’s not the sanity of the picket lines that bothers me, it’s the sanity of human life.”
Labour “will reduce and probably eliminate the homeless by 2008.”

“On housing and charities you have difficulties about the financing of long-term finances affecting those housing, very real problems and I’m sure that we agree with them, but it was good for conference but it wasn’t much action, it was an awful lot of getting the conference going, yes I will give way.”

“The agreement is taking place. I tell him properly that if his judgement to make a judgement on the public interest and the safety of the community. That is not my judgement, it is the judgement given to the Attorney General.”

“On the other hand, when I look at the urban cities and I look at how we use our money, there are issues where the need to buy issues, quite frankly, and it’s bought at a price and a very discounted price, which we all agreed to be doing, but then it’s sold at a very high price back to the state when they want to do something about improvements. Well, that’s costing us literally millions of pounds.”

“For the first time hypothecating any real increase in fuel duty to roads and public transport and I invite them to say if this hypothecation they are compared to adopt it.”

“I think that we are prepared to tolerate that, because it’s not a policy difference only, it’s all those peoples who haven’t got homes, the doctors and nurses, the people who are in homeless, they’re the ones who’ve been carrying the pain for that.”

“If I decide it is right to make a statement to this house, that’s what I do, that’s what I have done, and it didn’t come from anybody else.”

“The objectives remain the same and indeed it has been made clear by the prime minister in his speech yesterday that the objectives are clear, and the one about the removal of the Taliban is not something we have as a clear objective, it is, but is, but is possibly a consequence that as the Taliban clearly giving protection to Bin Laden and the UN resolution made it absolutely clear that anyone who finds them in that position declares themselves as an enemy and that clearly is a matter for these objectives.”

Posing with a crab in a jar at the Millennium Dome, while Peter Mandelson was standing for election to Labour’s ruling national executive committee, he said to cameramen: “You know what his name is? He’s called Peter. Do you think you will get on the executive, Peter?”

* When asked why a car was transporting him and his wife 200 yards to the Labour Party Conference in 1999: Because of the security reasons for one thing and second, my wife doesn’t like to have her hair blown about. Have you got another silly question?”

“the sceptre of unemployment is stalking the north east”.

* On the Millennium Dome: “If we can’t make this work, we’re not much of a government.”

* “The green belt is a Labour achievement, and we mean to build on it.” (Radio interview, January 1998)

* On the Tories at the 1996 Labour conference: “They are up to their necks in sleaze. The best slogan for their conference next week is ” Life’s better under the Tories” – sounds like one of Steven Norris’s chat-up lines.”

* When asked by a journalist about Peter Law’s decision to quit the Labour Party after 35 years: “Why are you asking me about this? I don’t care, it’s a Welsh situation, I’m a national politician.”

some wise words on love

August 15, 2006

People are wrong about love. They think they are altruistic because they desire the good of some other being often to their own disadvantage. But in exchange they desire wholly to possess that other being and become furious if their love is not reciprocated.   Nietzsche

Of course there is such a thing as love or there wouldn’t be so many divorces. Ed Howe

L’amour fait passer le temps. Le temps fait passer l’amour. French proverb

Religion has done love a great service by making it a sin. Anatole France

It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one’s neighbour.  Eric Hoffer

Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other. Carl Jung 

We are effectively destroying ourselves by violence masquerading as love. RD Laing 

How alike are the groans of love to those of the dying.  Malcolm Lowry

I loved not, yet I sought what I might love, loving to love St Augustine

Love comes from blindness, Friendship from knowledge.  Bussy-Rabutin,  Comte de

Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love: it is the faithless who know love’s tragedies. Oscar Wilde

The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less. Eldridge Cleaver

We are nearer loving those who hate us than those who love us more than we wish. le Rochefoucald

Scratch a lover and find a foe  Dorothy Parker

But hatred was not an emotion he could sustain for any length of time, unless it was the obverse side of love John LeCarre

Why do we love the mothers of this life even if they were lousy caretakers ? Are we born with blank hearts , waiting to be imprinted with any imitation of love ?  Amy Tan

The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.   G.K. Chesterton

Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.  Ambrose Bierce

He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.   Buddha

Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species. Somerset Maugham
The love that lasts longest is the love that is never returned.  Somerset Maugham

We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.  Somerset Maugham

En amour, ce qu’on aime c’est sa propre image flatteuse que l’autre vous renvoie de vous-même. Sempe

Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls   Kahlil Gibran
Love possesses not nor will it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love  Kahlil Gibran

Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation   Kahlil Gibran

Lovers embrace that which is between them rather than each other    Kahlil Gibran

To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from notloving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness    Woody Allen

I give her my heart but she wanted my soul    Bob Dylan

A small selection of choice gaffes

There’s nothing wrong with pregnancy. Half the people wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for women being pregnant. –Sarah Kennedy
Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.– United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
I want the Nobel Peace Prize and I’m going to fight for it.   — Ronaldinho
They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist… —  General John Sedgwick
Mark my words, in 50 years there’ll be one of these in every city in the US.  –The American Senator who saw a telephone in the 1920’s:
Who the hell wants to have a computer in their own home ?  — Ken Olsen President Digital Equipment) 1977
For God’s sake, go down to reception and get rid of a lunatic there. He says he’s got a machine for seeing by wireless. Watch him- he may have a razor on him.– Editor of Daily Express about Baird 1925
This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us. — Western Union internal memo 1876
“His weapons of mass destruction programme is active, detailed and growing. The policy of containment is not working. The WMD programme is not shut down, it is up and running now. The intelligence picture is extensive, detailed and authoritative”  — Tony Blair September 25, 2002, in the House of Commons
‘I’m a pretty straightfoward guy’ — Tony Blair
“Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.” —George W. Bush LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000
“Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” —George W. Bush Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004
“They misunderestimated me.” —George W. Bush Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000
“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” —George W. Bush Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004
‘I’ve never wanted to leave. I’m here for the rest of my life, and hopefully after that as well.’ — Alan Shearer
‘I was watching the Blackburn game on TV on Sunday when it flashed on the screen that George (Ndah) had scored in the first minute at Birmingham. My first reaction was to ring him up. Then I remembered he was out there playing.’ – Ade Akinbiyi
‘I can see the carrot at the end of the tunnel.’ – Stuart Pearce
‘I always used to put my right boot on first, and then obviously my right sock.’ – Barry Venison
‘I definitely want Brooklyn to be christened, but I don’t know into what religion yet.’ – David Beckham
‘All that remains is for a few dots and commas to be crossed.’ – Mitchell Thomas
‘My parents have been there for me, ever since I was about 7.’ – David Beckham
“I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father” (Greg Norman)
“Sure there have been injuries and deaths in boxing – but none of them serious” (Alan Minter)
I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.– Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made  — Dan Quayle
It will be years – not in my time – before a woman will become Prime Minister. — Margaret Thatcher
If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.  –Prince Philip, to British students in China during a 1986 state visit.
“Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed.”  — Prince Philip at the height of the recession in 1981
It is not true that there a re a lot of homeless in Lincoln. This is just a rumour put about by people who happen to have nowhere to live. — Mayor of Lincoln 1958
The future will be better tomorrow.  — Dan Quayle
We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.– Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
Outside of the killings, [Washington] has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.” — Marion Barry, Mayor of Washington, D.C.
“There are two kinds of truth. There are real truths, and there are made up truths.” — Marion Barry, on his arrest for drug use.
“[I want to] make sure everybody who has a job wants a job.” — George Bush, during his first campaign for the presidency.
“If crime went down 100%, it would still be fifty times higher than it should be.” — Councilman John Bowman, commenting on the high crime rate in Washington, D.C.
“Things are more like they are now than they have ever been.” — Gerald Ford
“The theories — the ideas she expressed about equality of results within legislative bodies and with — by outcome, by decisions made by legislative bodies, ideas related to proportional voting as a general remedy, not in particular cases where the circumstances make that a feasible idea…” — Al Gore
“The streets are safe in Philadelphia — it’s only the people who make them unsafe.” — Frank Rizzo, ex-police chief and mayor of Philadelphia.

some choice insults

July 20, 2006

To describe Jeffrey Archer as an ‘asshole’ is totally unfair. The asshole is a humble, useful and hardworking part of the anatomy.
When he was circumcised the doctor threw away the wrong part.
Making love with him is like having a large wardrobe fall on you with the key sticking out.
…he once asked a politician why everybody instantly disliked Peter Mandelson, to be told: “It saves time.”

A few clowns short of a circus
A few coupons short of a pop-up toaster.
A few fries short of a Happy Meal
Doesn’t have all his cornflakes in one box
The wheel’s spinning but the hamster’s dead
Elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor
One taco short of a combo plate

If I were married to you, I’d put poison in your coffee.
– – – Lady Astor (to Winston Churchill)
If you were my wife, I’d drink it.
– – – Winston Churchill, in reply

Do you mind if I smoke?
– – – Oscar Wilde (to Sarah Bernhardt)
I don’t care if you burn.
– – – Sarah Bernhardt, in reply

Arnold Schwarzenegger looks like a condom full of walnuts.
– – – Clive James

Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.
– – – Edgar Wilson “Bill” Nye

Jade Goody says Keira Knightley’s breasts are like “two aspirins on an ironing board”.

he hid his barrel under a light
Because Poll’s enlarged head is so far up his own backside it meets his whistle on the
way back out of his mouth.

John Prescott listened with the expression, according to one MP, of a bulldog chewing a wasp.