Tuesday’s Word of the Day is blowback, in praise of Chalmers Johnson, a CIA analyst who chronicled the effects of US power. Shamelessly plagiarising yesterday’s Guardian third editorial, It also enables Word of the Day to shoehorn in a topical reference to the US embassy cables and the Wikileaks controversy under the guise of lexicography.
Elsewhere in the same edition of the paper, Simon Jenkins notes that some US diplomats are less diplomatic about their own country’s policies:
Some stars shine through the banality such as the heroic envoy in Islamabad, Anne Patterson. She pleads that Washington’s whole policy is counterproductive: it ‘risks destabilising the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and the military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis without finally achieving the goal’. Nor is any amount of money going to bribe the Taliban to our side. Patterson’s cables are like missives from the Titanic as it already heads for the bottom.
Hardly news to seasoned observers of the subcontinent’s recent history – but a lesson our own recent Prime Ministers might have heeded, as pointed out (ahem) even here.
This Thursday’s Thought from Word of the Day asks if Swarming in the Statusphere, a ‘guide to the top 50 new trends’, is a sign of the end of civilisation as we know it. As John Crace notes in The Guardian this morning, ‘Fancy a tweetup with some b&bs’ seems to indicate that we’ve reached a pretty low point. (If you really ‘want to see the future’, as Shine claim they have, you can read Swarming in the Statusphere online.)
Worse is to come: elsewhere in the same paper, Hugh Muir points out, under the strapline ‘Educashun, edukation, educayshun. The strange ‘practices’ of Michael Gove’: ‘”We will review the operation of the current ‘basic skills’ tests of literacy and numeracy which teachers are required to pass before they can practice,” says the official transcript of the speech made by the education secretary. And once teachers have had enough practice, who knows, he may even allow them to practise.’
The one Hugh Muir calls ‘Professor Gove’, holder of a degree in English from one of our prestigious universities and the beneficiary of a luxury education in one of Scotland’s noble colleges, must have intended this to be a lesson in irony. Surely?