I’ve got a Little Black Book

Apparently Jean Claude Juncker has a little black book on his enemies, so in his honour, to the tune of Nobody Home by Pink Floyd;

 

I’ve got a little black book with my foes in
My favourite restaurant they serve hoisin
I’ve got a fish spa to dip all of my dainty toes in

I like to quote from Pascal’s “Pensées”
While I eat out on expensées
Entertaining the worlds dictators and excellencies.

I’m in the commission
And I’ve got a mission
I’ve amazing powers without election
And that is how I know
When you want to be through
With me and the EU
You’ll never take your powers home

I’ve got the obligatory elite scorn
And as inevitable as the morn
In the book of my enemies I hold all of the dirt
I’ve got alcohol damage to my liver
Twenty eight countries on a chain
I’ve a conference table to prop up my mortal remains

I’ve got wild staring eyes
And you have a strong urge to fly
But you have no where to fly to
Ooh babe. You can pick up the phone
You’ll never take your powers home

CJ, Reggie and Milo

At a social media company in a nearby alternate reality. The boss, known to all as”CJ” is chairing an early morning crisis meeting in his private office known as The Nest.
CJ: OK team. Are we all here? I didn’t get where I am today by having meetings starting late.
Reggie: (Arriving late) Sorry I’m late CJ. Slow puncture on Nob Hill.
CJ: Sit down everybody.
Yes Men: Great. Super.
Everyone sits at the same time. Air is pushed out of seat cushions causing their chairs to emit a cascade of beautiful bird song. Reggie’s chair appears to be faulty and makes a Bronx cheer.
CJ: Thank you all for coming in early. We have had a lot of complaints about hate speech. It is clear that we need to find a way to make our platform a safe space for the vulnerable.
Yes men: Great. Super.
Reggie: Right Ho CJ. Who are these poor fragile flowers who need our protection? Are they ethnic minorities, the disabled, single mothers?
CJ: Many vulnerable individuals have contacted me recently. Sony and Disney just this week.
Reggie: Pardon CJ? Sony and Disney?
CJ: Why yes Reggie. These poor vulnerable corporations have spent a fortune on our platform, promoting their products, and then some of our users start saying these products are rubbish.
Reggie: Is that not just because they are rubbish?
CJ: Well of course they are, but they don’t appreciate their potential customers being told they are. Honestly Reggie, the reason we headhunted you from Grot industries was your experience in selling absolute rubbish to the public.
Reggie: Right you are CJ, but I thought the core of your business model was free speech?
CJ: Of course it is. But free speech must not get in the way of paid for speech. I didn’t get where I am today by turning down money.
Reggie: In that case CJ there’s a few steps we need to take. Tech have gone through the statistics for me. Although independent voices on the platform are numerous, they are generally amorphous and unimportant if we exclude nodal posters. This handful of people have large numbers of followers and so have disproportionate influence.
CJ: Of course! We pay them off!
Yes men: Great. Super.
Reggie:  Sorry CJ. We’ve bought off the ones we could, but most of them seem to either enjoy trolling their enemies too much to stop, or actually believe in something. Sometimes both.
CJ: They believe in something! I always find it hard to believe such people exist. I didn’t get where I am today by believing in things. So what do we do about them? Ban them?
Reggie: Hopefully not necessary. We can make their presence less visible. Software ‘errors’ so not everyone sees what they post. Automated accounts who reiterate opposing viewpoints. But we may need to ban now and then. So we will need for it to look like we have standards.
CJ: Don’t worry about standards. Have you met Anita here?  She is a harassment and diversity expert, so she tells me. I’ve appointed her to a committee on free speech standards. Isn’t that right.
Anita: (Stridently) Yes CJ!
CJ: Did you tell me what the committee’s been named? (laughing) You haven’t chosen anything too Orwellian have you.
Anita: (mumbles answer)
Yes men: Great. Super.
Reggie: There is a risk however. If people are on our platform for free speech they may leave it if we censor too much.
CJ: Reggie, you really shouldn’t worry. Advertisers don’t care what free thinkers think anyway. They will work out for themselves what they need. The most important market is the one that passively accepts being marketed to. Dumb people is where the smart money is.
Reggie: In that case CJ we have a few more ideas.
Yes men: Great. Super.
Reggie: The Alt-right we plan to ignore and sideline. The left just need a bit of a nudge using the right people. They generally follow the herd. For this reason they are in fact the audience which will be most attractive to our advertisers. We can program automated bot accounts to like the things we are promoting. These bots are surprisingly sophisticated. We are ready in fact to replace your yes men with a software simulation.
Yes men: (Hesitantly) Great. Super.
Reggie: We can’t replace all accounts with simulations unfortunately. We have tried and failed to produce a convincing SJW bot. It’s extremely difficult to program a computer with that degree of irrationality. Although those bots have got more accurate since we added Voxday’s three laws to the algorithms.
(There is a sharp screech. The sound of nails being dragged down the surface of the conference table.)
CJ: Yes Anita? Is there a problem.
Anita: (Who has been triggered by the utterance of The Name That Shall Not Be Named speaks through gritted teeth.) CJ. I think we do need to set an example.
(She slides copies of a user file to all on the table. A photo of silver haired young man is clipped to the front. )
Reggie: Ah yes. We have been watching him. We discussed him at a previous meeting. I thought we agreed that as a gay man he had additional free speech rights?
Anita: Not necessarily. Have a look at this.
She brings a series of graphs up on the conference room display monitor.
Anita: This is the latest data from the SJW100. That’s a summation of the opinions of the current 100 most influential social justice warriors. It’s a bit like the FTSE100 or the Dow Jones is for shares, but it’s far more volatile. Here is the chart showing us the current victimhood league table. As you can see, taking account of him being gay, but being male, right wing and not portraying himself as a victim, he would currently be outranked by a black woman. So that’s where we hit him. Call him racist.
Reggie: Is that dog going to hunt? I hear he is quite fond of black men. Plus, how come I’ve never heard of this data “the SJW100.” Did you just make this up.
Anita: Sexism! Harassment! Don’t you believe a woman can do…
CJ: That’s enough Anita. That won’t work here, and I need Reggie more than you. I didn’t get where I am today by letting people throw their weight around in my boardroom. That is my prerogative.
Anita: Sorry CJ.
CJ: Anita, I can see you carry a grudge against this man. (tapping the photograph on the desk) And I am not prepared to let you use my firm for your grudges.
Anita: Sorry CJ.
CJ: However, in this case we are going to go ahead and ban him. This is why I called you here today. Our colleagues in Sony have been on the phone complaining constantly to me about this man. We have been promoting one of their new products heavily recently, for which we have received a considerable sum and this, (Tap tap tap), person, has posted an atrocious review. Sony have made it clear, that if we cannot police our social network properly for the good of the advertisers, there are other social networks that will.
Yes Men: Great. Super.
CJ: Reggie, when can we replace those two with bots?
Reggie: This afternoon CJ.
CJ: Great. Super. Now here’s the plan. One of the ladies who worked on Sony’s latest piece of crap is going to start complaining about her treatment. As per Anita’s recommendation she is a person of colour. Hopefully if she is vocal enough, this will stir up more trouble. If it doesn’t get bad enough, it’s your job Reggie to set some attack bots to insult her.
Reggie: Yes CJ.
CJ: Then she will quit the network, but not before contacting me for help. I will white knight it in and take compassionate charge of the situation. We will ban this character here as a warning to all and demonstrate how virtuous and anti-racist we are. Our advertisers will recognise that our priorities are correct and continue to spend their money here. That’s the plan. It’s the job of the team here to make sure it works. Any questions?
Anita is playing with the photograph on the desk. Prodding it with a manicured nail. She is smiling. It is not a smile which makes her attractive. Reggie shudders inwardly as he looks at her, but reminds himself of the mortgage he has to pay. At least his life can’t get any worse he tells himself. He turns back to CJ.
Reggie: Oh yes. Questions CJ. Since I came to work here, I’ve wondered what the reason is for all the bird themed paraphenalia here. What’s it all about?
CJ: Well Reggie, funny you should ask. I’ve always wanted to be a super villain. Specifically the Penguin. Stay behind after the meeting and I’ll show you my costume.

Boris is Foreign Secretary.

Chinese politicians and generals will all have studied the seminal book on warcraft and politics The Art of War, by Sun Tzu. My copy has notes by a former Red Army General.

Consider this quote.

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

Now consider this picture.

boris

The Chinese are now absolutely terrified of how strong we are.

The EU is the Village. Be seeing you!

In The Village, every few months there is a new face in the role of Number Two. The current Number Two (Also known as EU co-president) is talking to one of his charges, Number Six.

Number Six: Where am I?

Number Two: In the Village.

Number Six: What do you want?

Number Two: Information.

Number Six: Whose side are you on?

Number Two: That would be telling.

Number Six: Who are you?

Number Two: The new Number Two.

Number Six: Who is Number One?

Number Two: You are Number Six.

Number Six: I am not a number! I am a sovereign nation!

Number Two: [laughs]

Number Two takes Number six on a tour of the village. An army of workers is transporting the contents of one parliament building to another parliament building for one week. This happens every month. Number Two appears not to notice the chaos and smiles approvingly at all that goes on.

Number Two: Quite a beautiful place, really, isn’t it? Almost like a world on its own.

Number Six: I shall miss it when I’m gone.

Number Two: Oh, it will grow on you.  Any complaints?

Number Six: Yes. I’d like to mind my own business.

Number Two: So would we. Do you fancy a chat?

Number Six: I have a choice?

Number Two: Of course. You can do as you want.

Number Six: As long as it’s what you want.

Number Two: As long as it is what the majority wants. We’re democratic. In some ways.

Number Six: And how does your democracy work?

Number Two: If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue’.  But that is not how we like to do things.  

We decide on something, leave it lying around, and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back.

There can be no democratic choice against the The Village’s treaties. I have never understood why public opinion about The Village’s ideas should be taken into account.

Number Six:  Is that all right, if I call you a ‘piece of work’?

Number Two:  I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious … I am for secret, dark debates.

Number Six: Debates? So you do not all agree.

Number Two: The village-group decisions are always taken unanimously.  Society is a place where people exist together.

Number Six: Yes, sir. (mocking)

Number Two: That is civilization.

Number Six: Yes, sir.

Number Two: The lone wolf belongs in the wilderness.

Number Six: Yes, sir.

Number Two: You must not grow up to be a lone wolf.

Number Six: No, sir.

Number Two: You must conform.

Number Six: Yes, sir.

Number Two: It is my sworn duty to see that you do conform.

Number Six:  Then you have a problem. I also have a problem. I’m not sure which side runs this Village.

Number Two:  It doesn’t matter which “side” runs the Village.

Number Six: It’s run by one side or the other.

Number Two: Oh certainly, but both sides are becoming identical. What in fact has been created is an international community–perfect blueprint for world order. When the sides facing each other suddenly realize that they’re looking into a mirror, they will see that “this” is the pattern for the future.

Number Six: The whole Earth as the Village?

Number Two: That is my hope. What’s yours?

Number Six: In that case I’d like to be the first man on the moon.

Tiring now of Number Six’s inability to accept the inevitable Number Two takes them back to the Village cafe for some light refreshments. Number Six asks who is paying. Number Two takes Six’s wallet from his own pocket.

Number Two: You are of course.  Do you still think you can escape, Number Six?

Number Six: I’m going to do better than that.

Number Two: Oh?

Number Six: Going to escape, come back.

Number Two: Come back?

Number Six: Escape, come back, wipe this place off the face of the Earth, obliterate it and you with it.

 

 

Tall Tales and Tough Choices. Part Two

Part two. Boris Johnson.

Boris was on the victorious side in the recent referendum, but when someone wins, it’s fun to consider, is that actually what they wanted? You can play the game, hoping to lose, because that is what serves your interests best. This was the plot of the Producers. Lose, and the bigger you lose, the more you win. But if you win, you lose everything.

But why would Boris want to lose?  Well lets pretend for a moment that Boris isn’t some loveable oaf. Lets pretend he is a very intelligent and scheming politician who considers everything through the lens of what is best for him? Apart from the intelligent part, such politicians are very common after all.

Prior to Boris joining the Brexit campaign, all the smart money was on Remain. So why would a self serving politician join the losing side? Consider how things would have played out from there.  Boris joins team Brexit. Makes a decent impact. Gets a lot of TV exposure for himself, helping to build the Boris Brand in the long run. Throughout the campaign, he tones down the buffoon image, pivots into intelligent eccentric. Despite his best efforts however, Remain are victorious just as the polls had warned him before he threw his bicycle helmet into the ring. Boris loses with great magnanimity.

David Cameron, having backed the winning side stays on as Prime Minister. The leadership contest for the Tory party now happens 1 year before the next general election. Boris comes forward as a unifying character for the party. The pro Brexit MPs give him their support as one of their own, but so do many who had backed Remain. It turns out Boris is a very likeable loser. Here he is with his speech accepting Tory party leadership.

(Backstage, last minute preparations. He combs his hair. Dishevels it. half combs it again. crumples his tie. Then he straightens it but leaves it falling off centre. He shuffles his shoulders in his suit. For a moment there, it almost looked like it fitted him properly. In all he spends half an hour making it look like he has paid no attention to his appearance. His speech similarly, he has been writing for weeks, but he will read it as if he is making it up as he goes along. At times he will pretend to confuse himself, varying his speed, putting in distracted pauses. All part of the performance art character that is the public persona of Boris Johnson. For today he plans to be jovial and non threatening in introduction, but bring some steel towards the end)

“My dear friends and colleagues. Thank you for doing me the great honour of choosing me to be the leader of our great party.

The past two years have seen major change. Little did I suspect when our erstwhile leader Mr Cameron called a referendum for the British public, to decide on our future with Europe, events would unfold leading to me standing before you now.

It was the best of times! It was the worst of times! It was a tale of two demoses. Demoses? (Ruffle own hair in thought.) Yes that must right. I apologise if I am getting my Greek plurals confused in the heat of the moment.(Pause.)

But  I digress! I digress! Yes! The first demos!

In the referendum, we consulted the demos of the British Public, and the public gave us our answer. We are to stay within the EU. Now, although I campaigned for us to leave, I must  accept that the people have spoken, the case is closed. The peoples will shall be upheld!

I shall not, like some latter day Cato the Elder be declaring Brussels Delenda Est at the end of each and every speech. To those of you who did not benefit from a classical education, Cato the Elder was of course the father of Inspector Clouseau’s man servant.

I will however fight the UK’s corner from within the EU. You can rely on me to battle Brussels barmy bans on bendy bananas, and any other alliterative awfulness.

The second demos I had to face was you my dear colleagues. It has been said that the Tory parliamentary party is the most sophisticated  electorate there is. Well, as you selected yours truly, I am forced to agree. I look fondly back on those little confidential chats I had with so many of you. How we laughed as some of you made little jokes at my expense over the referendum result. I am not however a sore loser.

I look forward to some more private chats with you as we discuss cabinet posts. Oh! How we shall laugh once again!”

His speech continues. The rest of it primarily aimed at the general public as the general election approaches rather than the people right in front of him. Once again, good loser Boris, who will still fight the UK’s corner is seen as a unifying figure.  He is elected Prime Minister with a resounding majority.

But.

Boris didn’t lose the referendum. He won it.

Boris-“Bug**r. Never mind. Plan B. Let the wounds heal. I’ve still got a good chance of party leadership in a couple of years.”

Cameron resigns. Election now.

Boris-“Bugg**r. You b*stard Dave. Quitting your job just to spike my progress. Never mind, I might still manage it. I still have allies I can rely on.”

Gove is running against you.

Boris-“Bugg*r! Bugg*r, bugg*r, bugg*ry bugg*r! Hmm. Tactical withdrawl I think. But I will return!”