Whereas the common population of this sceptered isle was attached to answer the Lords Farage of a plea why they refused to serve — whereas it is ordained that any man and woman of the Queens’s realm of England, being able of body and below the age of sixty years, not living by trade or practising any specific mystery or having his own land about the tilling of which he can occupy himself, not being a servant to another, if he should be required to serve in a service considered fitting to his estate, shall be bound to serve him who so requests and shall take only the wages, liveries, rewards, or salaries which were in force, in the place where he should serve, in the sixty-fourth year of her Gracious Majesty or the average in the five or six preceding years. — Now the said common population was found guilty as charged, are required to till in the fields and raise crops from the earth as villeins nativus and shall to their home church by Tuesday 7 June for service, at the failiing of which to take the stocks for three days and thereafter be imprisoned.
I based it on a text from a proclamation from the Middle Ages when most tenants were under some kind of mutual obligation with the landlord and not free to come and go and be tenants of whomsoever they pleased and in the period of disruption during the black death some tenants were arguing that they were freed from their obligation and so the Lords took them to court and the proclamation was that they were bound and they had to work in the Lord’s fields.
This painting is in the National Portrait Gallery in London. I was there a couple of days ago and immediately thought of the long tradition of lounging on the benches.
That was before I read the description to the painting that refers to the very word ‘lounging’ where it says”:
“a rare and informal view of…. lounging back on one of the green front benches in the House of Commons..”
That caused me to chuckle as I thought of Jacob Rees-Mogg (see below).
Here is the full description of the painting:
JOE CHAMBERLAIN and ARTHUR JAMES BALFOUR, 1st EARL OF BALFOUR A rare and informal view of two great statesmen, lounging back on one of the green front benches in the House of Commons, evidently taking part in a debate. Chamberlain (1836-1914),the MP for Birmingham, had deserted the Liberal Party over the issue of Irish Home Rule. He joined the Conservative government in 1895 as Secretary of State for the Colonies. Balfour (1848—1930) became leader of the Tories and succeeded his uncle Lord Salisbury as Prime Minister in 1902.
Painting by Sydney Prior Hall (1842-1922) Oil on canvas, c.1895
There’s Lounging And Then There’s Lounging
As the newspapers reported last September:
A prominent pro-Brexit politician sparked outrage — and a meme — Tuesday when he stretched out across a bench in Parliament, appearing bored as British lawmakers heatedly debated the country’s exit from the European Union.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative leader of the House of Commons known for his aristocratic mannerisms, sprawled himself out in the front row of Parliament on Tuesday night, spurring some lawmakers to shout “Sit up, man!”
Anna Turley, a Labour MP, called Rees-Mogg’s posture “the physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our parliament.”
The Labour MP Anna Turley took this photograph of Rees-Mogg.
Jacob Rees-Mogg Today
More or less since that incident, Jacob Rees-Mogg has been very quiet and has kept out of the limelight.
As of today, Jacob Rees-Mogg is Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council.
Wikipedia describes the functions of the Leader of the House and of the Lord President of the Council:
The Leader of the House of Commons is generally a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom who is responsible for arranging government business in the House of Commons.
The Lord President of the Council is the fourth of the Great Officers of State of the United Kingdom, ranking below the Lord High Treasurer but above the Lord Privy Seal. The Lord President usually attends and is responsible for presiding over meetings of the Privy Council, presenting business for the monarch’s approval. In the modern era, the holder is by convention always a member of one of the Houses of Parliament, and the office is normally a Cabinet post.
The Field Upon Which The Knights Shall Joust
We shall see how it all plays out in the current mood of the Government seeking to curtail the powers of the Supreme Court. I imagine the Privy Council will have a part to play in the constitutional tussle.
Just in case anyone is feeling sympathetic to the effort I took to type out the fulling description of the text that accompanied the painting, I didn’t actually do that.
In the gallery I took the photograph of the description with my iPhone. I then cropped it to show just the text and put it into Picatext, an application for Mac OS that extracts ASCII text from JPEGs.
That way I didn’t have to copy and type out the description, just copy and paste.
In seismic shift, Britain orders immediate moratorium on fracking
That’s a Reuter’s headline from today.
A seismic shift in position to match the seismic events – the earthquakes that have followed fracking explorations in the north of England.
Such low-hanging fruit is better left hanging on the tree. The pun on the word seismic is too cute, and better resisted.
The facts cry out for a headline that puns, the journalists might say. Well, not exactly the facts, some assert. Some say that the statement is just a pre-elction publicity stunt, and that the Government will reverse its position as soon as (if) it wins the election on December 12th.
It’s a hard one to come back from, but some people believe that some Governments change their minds, or never intended to carry out their promise in the first place. They fudge evidence and show how contrary to what they said earlier, the truth is now the opposite.
A decent amount of time, a few months, other more important business to conduct, and a quiet Government statement that floats out under the wire, and fracking begins again. That’s how the critics see it.
Newspapers won’t be able to use the headline again. A seismic shift in intent that follows an earlier seismic shift that followed a previous course of action? No, that’s too many seismic shifts. What would it have to be, next time? It would need a ‘full and thorough investigation’ (or some equally high-sounding phrase) that reveals that fracking is no threat to the stability of the landscape.
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom (a loathsome person in the eyes of some) said on the radio that the Government has always been clear that it will follow the science, and that as they cannot be certain that shale gas can be extracted safely, they are imposing a moratorium until the science changes.
Until the science changes. Hah! Those opposed to the cull that is wiping out tens of thousands of badgers have the backing of science. But the Government presses on killing badgers.
There’s a scene in the film Full Metal Jacket where a raw recruit joins the platoon and is instructed not to leave the path. He is of limited ability and unable to follow instructions. No sooner does he join the platoon than he leaves the path and is skewered in a Vietcong man trap.
In Apocalypse Now there’s a scene where the young soldier, hardly able to follow any orders, wasted on dope, starts shooting wildly. He is out of control, as much a terrified observer as an active combatant.
And in Forrest Gump the hero joins the army and miraculously manages to survive and do well despite being odd and below average in IQ. The way things work out well for him are fantastical. That’s a device used repeatedly in the film.
The connection between Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, and Forrest Gump is the that the war in question in each film is the Vietnam War.
You might wonder how men of below average IQ ever got into the army. I knew people from poor backgrounds, disproportionately black, were the ones who were most likely to be drafted, but I didn’t wonder at all beyond that. I just watched the films.
But today I watched a talk by Hamilton Gregory, a man who volunteered for service in Vietnam. He was a college graduate, so he could well have avoided the draft. Many middle class young men did. They didn’t have to try hard; there were exemptions of which they could take advantage.
But Mr Gregory volunteered and as chance would have it, he was ordered to escort another recruit to Fort Benning in Georgia. That recruit was educationally subnormal. He didn’t know that America was at war. He didn’t know in which state he had been born.
Hundreds of thousands of men like him were drafted under Robert McNamara’s Project 100,000. That was the project under which young men of poor IQ were inducted each year.
Robert McNamara was the U.S. Secretary of Defence, so it was his call. The army couldn’t get people to go to Vietnam, So McNamara lowered the IQ requirement. He said that the army was one of the world’s best educators, and it could raise the IQs of the draftees. So people who were previously unfit to server were now fit.
In battle they were too slow to react, too slow to understand what was going on, two slow to formulate a plan. They were poor marksmen, erratic and a danger to themselves and their fellow soldiers. And they died in Vietnam at three times the rate other soldiers were killed.
Unofficially, the soldiers in McNamara’s Project 100,000 were called McNamara’s Morons. Nice, eh?
Hamilton Gregory was so appalled by Project 100,000 that after the war he gathered whatever evidence he could and wrote McNamara’s Folly: The Use Of Low IQ Troops In The Vietnam War. And that is what he was talking about in the video I watched.
So now I wonder whether the makers of Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, and Forrest Gump knew all about Project 100,000 and whether they were making an oblique reference to it?
Netflix showed a documentary about what went on in the campaigns to change people’s viewpoints in the US election and the EU referendum.
Christopher Wylie, the data scientist who worked for Cambridge Analytica said:
Cambridge Analytica are not a data analysis company: They are a data propaganda company.
About an hour into the video, Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica said:
We are a behaviour change agency
Brittany Kaiser, who worked for Cambridge Analytica, said they used the data they got from those who did Facebook quizzes – which also gave them access to the data of those people’s friends.
Armed with that they profiled millions of US voters and then targeted those who were ripe to be persuaded – the ‘persuadables’ as they called them.
They sent them ‘news’ (real and fake) until, as she said:
…they saw the world the way we wanted them to see it.
The parent company of Cambridge Analytica is/was SCL, which started out as a military contractor contracted to use research to influence behaviour of hostile audiences.
SCL was granted provisional “List X” status by the Ministry of Defence until 2013, giving it access to secret documents.
In 2014, MoD officials worked with SCL Group on “Project Duco” to analyse how people would interact with certain government messaging.
Guardian article 28 April 2018:
The UK Foreign Office, in 2008 signed a contract with Strategic Communications Laboratories, the former name of SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, for a project to help tackle extremism by providing research and surveys into public opinion as part of an initiative to help Pakistan deal with extremism and radicalisation issues that could affect the UK.
From the UK Government website:
“List X contractors are companies operating in the UK who are working on UK government contracts which require them to hold classified information. This information is at ‘Secret’ or above or international partners information classified ‘Confidential’ or above, and is held their own premises at a specific site.”
Don’t hold me to it, but I think the allegation was that SCL passed their data to Cambridge Analytica, who used it to influence British voters in the EU referendum.