Friday Cocktails: Elvis Presley Night

Searching as ever, gentle readers to give you a theme for your Friday night cocktails, we lit upon an inspired idea. Why not consult our old friend and erstwhile collaborator Mrs Margaret Foster of Dorset? There’s little enough she doesn’t know about the food and the drink that wasn’t worth knowing afore, as they used to say along the Grand Union Canal of yesteryear. And, after favouring the matter she came up with this: Elvis Aaron Presley.

Elvis Presley (1935-1977) [1] was a cultural and musical item of enormous magnitude. Confession: we at LSS always thought that Chuck Berry was a better musician, and Bill Haley the original pioneer. But no one stands over his decade and his genre with quite such power as the Man from Memphis. Alright, maybe his contribution to music wasn’t quite in the same league as JS Bach, nor his contribution to cinema quite up there with Martin Scorsese. Nevertheless his string of hummable hits were the introduction to Rock and Roll for the many. As John Lennon once remarked “without Elvis, there would be no Beatles”. So, to pay tribute to this remarkable artist we present three delicious recipes directly inspired by Elvis’ oeuvre. Thank you very much!

Blue Hawaii: we link here to the fantastic website called The Spuce Eats, plus they also have some fantastic pictures! [2] This was a 1961 film. But the drink is a delicious mix of rum, blue curacao, pineapple juice and coconut cream, and garnished with enough tropical fruits to make Carmen Miranda’s head sag. Perfect for the warm nights of that exotic island paradise!

Blue Suede Shoes Not wishing to overdo the blue theme, even if Elvis did, we offer our homage to a sassily-named site called Recipezazz.[3] Basically we are talking rum, pineapple juice and curacao again, but presented in a different way. as for the song, Carl Perkins wrote and first released it, and Elvis followed up in 1956. One for the money, two for the show-and down it goes!

All Shook up Actually a bit of a cheat-because you can do this with so many cocktails. James Bond preferred his cocktails stirred but not shaken (like his women) but we can’t to better than recommend the classic Martini, because if you’re an Elvis fan you can have it the other way round. This is the BBC[4] As for the song, Elvis topped the Billboard charts for eight weeks for this, back in 1957. A long, long time ago!





The importance of communications: a personal view

We at LSS have always believed in the value of good communications and shared mutual understanding. We believe our own organisation is an example at all times. Even when things ago awry, as they did the other day with that unfortunate mixed message, we think the LSS building is a shining example of how things can run, and our readers will benefit from seeing how things work in a modern, diverse, open, goal-driven , customer-facing, efficient organisation . And how they might apply these lessons themselves, in their own lives, and countries and workplaces.

Which brings us back to the other day. When things do go slightly wrong, and we’re not saying that message was right, you detect a certain change in atmosphere. Of some of the employees towards the Editorial Board, for example. Subtle, and an outsider would never notice. A slight froideur in the lifts perhaps. Odd, mysterious changes, that make you wonder. Why has the Editor’s car parking space been closed “for health and safety reasons”, for example, when all the others around it seem to be working fine. Why can no department give a clear answer? Building services say it’s all down to subsidence. Security talk about the danger from “roaming gangs of feral youths.” Why have the board never seen these youths? Why do they only threaten one car parking space? Until then, the Editor-the Editor, goddammit, has to park in the Councillor Nigel Stokes Shopping Centre car park like ordinary people. What’s that going to cost us in parking fees?

Communications sometimes go awry, and the person responsible knows clearly what they did. Obviously, the clearest communication of all is that, in the current climate, no one’s job is safe . That gives all much to think about, especially in the long walk from the car park of the Councillor Nigel Stokes Shopping Centre to our desk.

Cocktail night will be tomorrow.

Afghanistan and the fall of Great Powers

Great Powers rise according to the strengths of their economies. The Industrial Revolution gave Britain an incomparable advantage which enabled its hegemony for over a century. Britain waned as it exported more and more resources into policing its widespread empire and less and less into renewing its human and industrial capital. America and Germany displaced Britain by virtue of their newer and more productive economies. Spain wasted its entire bullion bonanza on profitless wars. Once Rome‘s frontier became too thin, the end was catastrophic. The pattern is deep and universal.

Imagine a tap in a concrete yard. You want to cover the whole yard in water-to make it your empire, if you like. Near the tap, the water spreads strongly, easily covering the concrete. But you must brush the water further out if you want to cover outlying areas. Weaken the flow from the tap or turn it off and you must start to use water from the centre to keep covering the outer areas. In the end both dry more quickly, and your empire is lost.

In this light, President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan makes sense, however cruel the consequences for the Afghan people. America has spent trillions of dollars of capital in foreign wars, while its own infrastructure decays. It even seems unable to protect large numbers of its citizens from disasters such as floods. Meanwhile China, India and other potential rivals effortlessly forge ahead. Afghanistan has proved intractable for three overreaching imperial powers-Britain, the USSR and the USA. Others would do well to keep out.

Nations are not social services departments. Armies exist to fight wars and Ministries of External Affairs to negotiate the best interest. A sure route to long term decline is to neglect the internal economy for the sake of foreign interventions. Our reading list today is longer, but we hope even a cursory study will illustrate our point.

Edward Gibbon The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire CUP 2013

Paul Kennedy The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers Random House 1987

Corelli Barnett The Collapse of British Power Pan Macmillan 1972

Henry Kamen Imperio Punta de Lectura 2004

#USA #China #India #Britain #Russia #India #Rome #Imperial Spain #President Biden

A big thank you

From all of the staff here- editorial, production, finance, administration, distribution and not forgetting our stalwart legal team, a big thank you to all our contributors, readers, sharers and visitors for another month-thank you. As the skies darken, at least here in the northern hemisphere and the leave turn and fall, we look forward to working with you through another autumn. What shall it bring?

(put signature here)

Especially for one or two on the staff who don’t actually seem to do anything. Who’s that tall bloke in HR who’s always on the photocopier for example? What does he do all day? And that empire-building woman in finance-what are all these meetings she sets up about? Need to look at her. Rest of them don’t seem too bad, although someone needs to clean up the cups in the fourth floor rest area bit. Definitely not the cleaner’s job, she’s overworked as it is. Let them know we’re watching, but do it discretely!

(note to secretary-paragraph one for website, paragraph two for board newsletter only)

The Editors

On the origins of language: knowing what we don’t know

In 1835 the French philosopher Auguste Comte [1] tried, somewhat ambitiously, to set the possible limits of human learning. He agreed that we could know the distances and motions of the stars, but never their composition. Within ten years he was wrong. The invention of spectroscopy rendered his prediction void.

The origins of human language seem even more impenetrable. Between the utterances of bonobos and our own all-syntax, fully-vocabularised and recursive model lies a gap of at least four million years with absolutely nothing in it. It is like being an educated Roman standing on the shores of Spain in about 50 BC trying to guess what was on the other side of the Atlantic from two bits of washed up flotsam.

There are tiny, fascinating clues. The FOXP-2 gene is in there somewhere. Brains have got bigger, and there have been changes in key areas like Broca’s tissue. Certain gestures seem universally understood. Linguistic and genetic evidence seem to indicate a common origin of the languages of Homo sapiens somewhere in Africa probably between 200 000 and 140 000 years BCE. That’s a lot of time, and a big area.

But it seems to us, sadly, that everything beyond that is speculation and guesswork. We have great regard for the valiant enquiries of some very learned people; a good jumping off point is the Wikipedia article below[2] Sadly, their efforts are intriguing but not yet convincing. When the Paris Linguistic Society banned all discussion of the origins of language, we can understand why. So, although it is tempting to imagine some early hominins directing hunts in language comprising nouns only, that is not science. (You should try communicating in nouns for just an hour or so-it’s surprising how far you will get.)

The only way forward we can think of is advanced computer modelling. Would it be possible to programme the communication systems of chimps and bonobos into a computer, subject them to iterations of evolutionary pressure, and see what happens? Or would the old principle of “rubbish in= rubbish out” apply? Could we model the brain of a Homo erectus, human, but smaller than our own, to assess its capacities. Answers on a postcard, please. In language.

#humanevolution #linguistics #computermodelling #limits of knowledge

[1] Auguste Compte Cours de Philosophie Positive


Weekly round-up: Earthquakes, homosexuality and global warming

a weekly look at stories which intrigue

Earthquakes and global warming The causes of earthquakes have been attributed to many things. The Roman Emperor Justinian thought that they were caused by the practice of homosexual acts, and legislated accordingly. Some are undoubtedly caused by shifts in the Earth’s tectonic plates. Others seem to be the result of more local events in the outer crust, which jar ancient faults, setting off local earthquakes. Which brings us to an intriguing report in Nature. So much ice is melting now due to global warming that the crust is now changing its shape. We are no geomorphologists; but doesn’t that imply a higher chance of earthquakes?


Heroic Compassion When the women’s refuges and similar initiatives kicked off in the 1970s, there was more than one sneer about middle class do-gooders. Well, these so called do-gooders have constructed a mighty movement which has added inestimably to the quality of human life, and we at LSS put these brave women on the same pedestal as Wilberforce and the anti-slavers. Gill Margaret Hague documents the early years for the Conversation. And if you have tears, prepare to shed them now.

Street lights-a progressive dilemma Street lights make the night safer for women, draining the dark pools of shadow from which their enemies attack. Yet now these lights seem to be the cause of a rapid decline in our six-legged friends, without whom we are all doomed. If you know the answer, write to Joe Biden, as he’s probably not got much on this weekend. Mr Gary Herbert of Buckinghamshire adduces this study from the Conversation by Douglas Boyes.

Well, that’s three for this week gentle readers, enough to keep you going until we meet again on Tuesday. Enjoy and relax!

#globalwarming #earthquakes #justinian #domesticviolence #insectdecline

The 5G: a cocktail for the information age

We are in receipt of a communication from that most erudite of readers, Mrs Lee of Fulham, London, (currently travelling on a cultural tour of Europe),who writes:

O, Cocktailmeister, much as we admire your recipes and suggestions, some of them do seem to suggest another age. An expansive age, an art deco age, a world of liners, blazers and streamlined limousines. All very well, but it has passed! Where is something for the ultra modernists, those cool dudes who wear clothes that make them look like the residents of certain suburbs of Los Angeles, Ca, and who spend more time on their computers and mobile telephones than in erudite conversation with educated peers?”

“Ok,” we said, “a have you in mind?”

And she has come up with this-the 5G, which comprises: gin, grenadine, grapefruit juice, ginger beer and Galliano.

Take a well cooled cocktail shaker and add five or six ice cubes. Add two measures of gin, one of Galliano and one of fresh grapefruit juice. Shake well and pour with ice into a tumbler. Top up with cold ginger beer for taste. Decorate with a small twig of mint or borage.

Some correspondents have enquired if they may substitute the ginger beer with Guinness, but we do not recommend it.

Well, thank you Mrs Lee, and keep your suggestions coming. And the same goes for everyone else!

Covid Slump or long term slump?

Slowing recoveries around the world from China to the US, rising inflation, massive debts. You could be forgiven for thinking that the headwinds blowing across the world economy were due to our old friend COVID 19, but not so, according to Larry Elliott of The Guardian.[1] He sees a deeper structural malfunction comparable to the famous long depression that started after the financial crash of 1873 and lasted for the rest of the nineteenth century. The parallels with 2007-08 are obvious,

Well, not only does he provide a masterly analysis, but also shows what the way out will be-so read it and find out. Since 2007 the feeling that the whole world is living with a ild but chronic case of flu is almost palpable. There has to be way out for everyone, we deserve better than this.


#us #china #economics #depression #covid-19 #sustainability

Centre for Women’s Justice-keeping a light burning in dark times

Amid the square parsecs of coverage on The Retreat from Kabul(2) and the endless discussions on, strategically, was it a Good Thing? or a Bad Thing?, the fact remains that on the ground, in Afghanistan, the forces of feminism have suffered a grievous blow. Life for women in there is going to get worse for a very, very long time. From that, it’s all too easy to sink into sorrow, culpability and despair. When that threatens, as any good psychiatrist will tell you, you need to find Hope from somewhere. And we have found it.

Thanks to the inestimable Channel 4 News, we have discovered the existence of a remarkable organisation called The Centre For Women’s Justice. Remarkable because they do what we believe to be central at LSS. Do something different but use sensible mainstream tools to do it. And their USP is to add tip top legal brains to all the different fights for rights going on everywhere. They cite the long list of abuses-rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, genital mutilation, the usual charge sheet. They admit that some advanced countries have passed laws against these atrocities. But without enforcement-holding the feet of Governments to the fire, so to speak-laws are just bits of paper in a dusty book of statutes. So, paraphrasing their own words, they

hold the state accountable for failures in the prevention of violence against women… groups who challenge individuals and laws that perpetuate such violence and , crucially: Undertake strategic litigation and facilitate legal assistance

A small start you might say after the disaster in Central Asia. But consider this; the most intelligent man we have ever met once told us that progress starts from well organised centres of excellence, and spreads out. This is as true of science and education as it is of sports teams. In the related field of animal rights, Arthur Schopenhauer was quick to recognise the pioneering work of British organisations like the RSPCA, whose ideas later went global. Feminists and all progressives round the world-here is a beacon and a template for you. We link below [1] but as you scroll, please remember there is a donate button for these people too!

#taliban #afghanistan #feminism #womens rights #justice #centrefor womensjustice

Weekly Round up: religion, politics and biodiversity

your guide to to intriguing little stories which may yet run

We at LSS are far from anti religion. Trouble is, when it goes wrong or you concentrate too much on purity over everything else, you can get problems, as the following cautionary tales illustrate

Thrashing out the issues: John Smyth QC was quite a guy. He was a relentless moral crusader, a committed Christian activist and a Recorder Judge. Yet according to allegations reported by Harriet Sherwood of the Guardian, Smyth was implicated in lurid abuse scandals at a whole series of summer camps run for the education of young men from Britain’s elite schools. Remember Bleeding for Jesus is the case for the prosecution, and we have yet to hear from the Smyth family (Smyth died in 2018), Whatever the final truth, it’s a sobering reminder of the psychological currents that flow through the more exclusive and righteous organisations.

Bleeding for Jesus: John Smyth and the Cult of Iwerne Camps by Andrew Graystone will be published on 2 September.

Rifts in the family According to our more nervous and excitable commentators the Fall of Kabul is a triumph for the forces of Islam over a morally decadent, cowardly West. Except that the truth is never that simple. For one thing the Taliban are militant Sunnis with strong links to Saudi Arabia, while their huge neighbour Iran is staunchly Shi’ite. it gets even more complicated, as Jason Burke Why not all Islamists Extremists are buoyed by the Taliban’s victory for the Guardian, shows. Jason takes you through a lot of names and groups, so you’ll learn a lot. Let this be a taster:

……the Islamic State (Isis), which considers the Taliban “apostates” because of their willingness to negotiate with the US, their apparent pragmatism and their failure to apply Islamic law with sufficient rigour.

Seems that however hard you try, there’s always someone who thinks you could be doing better!

Biodiversity: it’s not all gloom. On the better theme, the media are full of declining habitats, dead animals and burning forests. But herculean efforts are being made to resore the wounds somewhere, as Nature Briefings reminds us Seeking Biodiversity winners and losers

Globally, we are experiencing a biodiversity crisis: a landmark report shows that some one million animal and plant species face extinction. But in some locations, the variety of species is increasing. In others, some types of plant and animal are thriving while others struggle. Scientists are scrambling for data that will help them to better understand the well-being of rapidly changing ecosystems and where conservation efforts can best be targeted. At the forefront is a European network, called EuropaBON, that will combine research plots, community scientists, satellite sensors, models and other methods to generate a continuous stream of biodiversity data for the continent.Nature | 14 min read
Reference: Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IBPES) Global Assessment report

We are ourselves busy reporting on biodiversity projects on the south coast of England, and hope to bring you more news soon. In the meantime, have a good weekend

#christianity #islam #taliban #johnsmyth #biodiversity