Sometimes the importance of motor racing and all its meaningless politics fades to insignificance. Yesterday was such a day. It was an extraordinary period for France, the country where I choose to live. It was a day when the French government sent a strong message to all those who seek to attack France and the values for which it stands.

The greatest victory over terrorism is not achieved by the brave men of the GIGN or RAID, it is achieved by all of us. Terrorism seeks to disrupt and to create fear. So the best response is to go on living a normal life and not being afraid to say what you think; to tell these murderous fanatics that their simplistic beliefs are worthless and that their actions will only harden our resolve.

So today I am off to the local market – the kind of place that people all over the world dream of visiting. I will worry about whether the clementines are tasty, see what exotic mushrooms they have collected and what the fishing boats have brought in. The gun-toting murderers will mean less to me than the hunt for good vegetables.

I did not agree with everything Charlie Hebdo did, but I will defend their right to do it. These are things that one should learn from one’s parents or from schooling. If there is a problem today, it is because the terrorists are not being properly educated in how civilization works. Sure, things go wrong and people overstep the mark, but the response is not to take up guns and end up being blasted into the arms of Allah, but rather to curb those who transgress and move on, always aiming for a perfect world, while being aware that it is never going to happen. That is civilization. And that allows us luxuries such as motorsport and other frivolities…

85 thoughts on “Ruminations

  1. “I did not agree with everything Charlie Hebdo did, but I will defend their right to do it.”

    Great phrase.

    In any case, low education and the wrong use of religion, is the best way to create manipulated monsters.

    I worry about the growing hatred that is emerging between the Western world against Muslims in general, that is certainly one of the objectives sought by these Jihadists.

  2. Joe, you are so right: Enlightened education is the key, which is of course why the extremists want to prevent it. I would go one step further and say (in a sweeping generalisation, I know) ensuring all girls worldwide are educated is even more important; girls become mothers, mothers are a child’s first educator.

  3. Thank you Joe, good to have you amongst us, the people of France.

    Charlie Hebdo is an institution here, not all of us like what they write (as a matter of tact the number of copies sold every week is low) but with “Le Canard Enchainé” they represent what we are as a Nation : A bunch of good people -I think- but always moaning, criticising, complaining, shouting, somewhat allergic to any form of authority, including the one we have elected.

    I have to add that Wolinski and Cabu are (they will never die) very popular in France as cartoonists for more than 40 years. As a kid I used to read their BD (comics ?) and I never stopped. The attack of C-H will have made me angry, but the killing of these 2 people on top, sent me into tears and deep sorrow.

    The interational support my country receives from the whole world, and especially from our European and US friends is of a great help, it’s good to know that in tough times we are not alone, and that the free world still have this special bond with us.

    1. BD: Bandes Desinées : comics, I think is the correct translation, but without any French, or Belgian, cultural self importance, I think the tradition of DB creation and authorship is simply that much deeper in the culture. Movie buffs, of just those who want to know where “Multipass” comes from, might enjoy researching the comic book origins of Luc Beeson’s The Fifth Element, which he first read as a student, and spent twenty years working towards recreating. Graphic novels might come closer to the seriousness of the enterprise behind BDs, but that sounds a bit more serious than I think is quite right.

      I owe a enormous amount of my visual understanding to my tutor, one M. B. Gaultier, whose notebooks from our lessons I found just recently, and which made me sad to think how impoverished, disused, is my spoken language.

      I’ve been watching, past week, with great interest, the select committee debate, on Germany’s overreaching role in the EU, from the perspective of thinking about Franco – Germanic tensions, which always arise from worry over cultural heritage and expression as much as any other realm of concern. That’s a chosen perspective, of my own, though the thought of Germanic hegemony needed no prompting, as various of the more educated and senior Members spoke.. I say so with intended humor I hope is not misplaced. The events, and particularly the reactions, of the past few days, have done one positive thing: they have reminded a often soporific Island Nation of the importance of our neighbors, and the purpose for which the French national Ideal speaks, and can speak, for us all. In these days, that is a blessing, and – with vigilance, thankfully – I am happy that we may concern ourselves the more productively, wondering the origin of mushrooms for our dinner.

      Well spoken, Joe.

      If only there was such a forthright address from the other French (Swiss, actually, note their emanations and incorporations, a fact which has passed without much comment ) sporting authority. I guess they presume Joe can do the job, uncredited, unpaid, unrecognized … they may think incorrectly.

  4. Whist I agree with your pragmatic comments Joe, I ask myself whether we all get dealt the same cards at birth? Do we all benefit from the same education possibilities, care, love and attention from our parents (indeed do we all know our parents?) that you suggest are the ingredients for the balance in life that would appear to be missing from the type of crazies that murdered innocent people in Paris in the last days. On the subject of freedom of opinion, it should also be balanced with respect, another value we all learn from our parents, no?
    It’s only a thought…

      1. “On the subject of freedom of opinion, it should also be balanced with respect, another value we all learn from our parents, no?”


        Not even remotely.

        As Salman Rushdie put it:
        “Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.
        ‘”Respect for religion” has become a code phrase meaning “fear of religion.” Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”

          1. I’m open minded enough to understand and accept your comments – or more precisely those you quote from Rushdie – but I do challenge you on the value of respect in the general sense of being broad minded and tolerant of people and their beliefs, not the belief itself – however much damage it can cause when misused by fanatics.

    1. We do not indeed, get dealt the same cards at birth. I was born almost literally with a solver spoon wedged in my toothless maw. But, one unthinking slip, tragic nevertheless in origins, ten years ago, led me to learn not only how incredibly difficult it is to prize oneself up form the floor – the gaps in the net supposed to save us all are wide enough for even the biggest of egos to pass, and care not youth birth one jot – but also how many vines or strands of life and culture exist, which, once you firth firmly grasp upon them, and commit yourself, will help lift your life again. That said, the relative distance between my own life, and that of my contemporaries at school, is incredible in its gulf. Awe inspiring, even, but inspiring nevertheless to energize my days anew.

      Joe appears to touch upon one thing that is very close to my heart, in this piece: the care that is paid to education and elevation or improvement in life. We suffer tremendously, and I think this is truly at its most acute within the United Kingdom, of a multi generational disregard for education and its values. Therein, as Joe suggests, is the heart of the moral matter, which leads us to lead either a goodly, or at least modest life, or one at loggerheads with the most simple of precepts of civil life. Reading a discussion forum for programmers, mixed bag it is, but often repository of genuine and unsullied insight, the other day, a commented who taught a while in the UK, reported a parental disregard thus: “I failed at school and did all right.”. That caused me to be upset, and comment at length, how it is actually the “one percenters”, hated of the unthinking masses – in reality the unthinking few pursuing their unstated aims at the expense of the true silent majority, who would not deign to understand such behavior – who support our socialist system. You have to earn a tremendous amount, to actually net contribute financially, in the UK. I shan’t go on to compare, or try to compare, the origins of radicalism, but there is a ferment of dissatisfaction, nurtured by our profligate society, that is increasingly radical to the exclusion of freedom of speech of any kind. I shan’t illustrate now, but this extends even to the inability of our Prime Minister to be able to intelligently reply to questions over the latest “crisis” in our profligately indulgent, dysfunctional, health system. If our leaders are so easily silenced, then there are true roles for publications such as Charlie Hebdo, and Le Canard Enchainé, in our lives. But, no, The Private Eye, is not sufficient in comparison. Even if, like me, you are constrained by schoolboy French, I exhort you to try to find a copy of either. The effort is not without reward.

  5. Thank you, Joe. This horrendous but totally expected attack puts everything in to sharper focus. Coming on the announcement by you a few days ago that Jean-Pierre Beltoise, winner of that race in the rain in the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix, the last for BRM, had died, made it a rough week for my love of France. I lived in Germany for 4 years while in the US Army and was especially fond of the eastern part of the country. My prayers go out to all of France. Thanks for your thoughts- go have fun and be good to others and enjoy His creation. Major William Brown in the USA

  6. Exactly right Joe! I just never comprehend people who only wish to inflict violence and medieval practices on their fellow humans. It’s sad that they feel so absorbed in their little world that they cannot breakout and join the rest of us, who wish no harm to any other soul on this planet.
    T’was ever thus I guess, and probably always will be. As you say, and I agree, Charlie Hebdo did some things that were not what I’d agree with, but they had a democratic right to do them, and I’d not want to live under the sort of State rules that the terrorists regard as better than ours. The saddest thing is the huge loss of life this week in France. And the knock on effect on loads of families and friends who mourn their loved ones departure in such a brutal and pointless manner. As always, I feel a personal pain at the thought of people waking up, enjoying the start of their day, doing all the tasks both work and personal, that one does everyday, and then finding their end of life in an instant, or enduring panic and pain at their demise. It really upsets me a lot. There are so many better ways of going through life than using the barrel of a gun to make your point. Considering the situation and how it developed, I’d say the French Police groups were outstandingly good at bringing it to an end.

    1. Can I be a Pedant, please, Damian? I do like to use the word “medieval”, myself, I think it was popularized by a Tarantino movie, or the like, with, “I’m gonna get medieval on his ass”, but the medieval period was far more enlightened, even a firmament of discovery and learning, than we commonly, or colloquially, attribute. I don’t think I am correcting you of your ignorance – far from it be that likely – but thought it worthwhile to give a “age” its due!

      I hope, I pray even this will happen in my lifetime, that we will rather look back on the unenlightened, ignorant, conflicts of today, with the same disregard as the colloquial use of “medieval” is presently used. We have, at our fingertips, the most powerful tool ever given mankind, for the betterment of our purpose, and yet it seems that some will never be enlightened of any purpose other than adhominem or misguided distortion, or pure destruction… This time, we cannot, as a species, afford another “tragedy of the commons”.

      1. Hi JoJ,I was thinking more in terms of the feudal systems of those times, and the oppression of the common man, as well as the terrible tortures imposed for any or indeed, no crimes.
        The IS and Al Qaeda supporters, are as enlightened as the Spanish Inquisition, and would have us all live in those terms.
        Strangely, and referring to another post of yours, regarding education, I sometimes wonder if the real problems of the world, could benefit to a small degree, in more Religion, of all types, rather than the less of it we have in the UK.
        Let me explain. I was brought up in a strictly religious manner. Regular Church attendance, sometimes several times a week. It bored the pants off my, especially as it was all in Latin until the late 60’s, and it caused other problems such as I’d ask awkward questions, to which the only answers were that it was all down to believing…..and one had to believe, and that was that, no arguments etc etc. In Church, one had to pop up and down when told to, one had to also keep quiet when told to, and this enforced discipline would take up 2 hours or so at a time….and this is the crux, although it bored me, and as soon as I could resist going, I did, ( and that is a story as well as this did not go down well at all with my parents! ), but as I grew up and married and had my own children, I realised that, and we didn’t bring ours up in anyway religiously, well, the thought has always occurred to me that the whole effort of going to some religious service, and of keeping quiet and still for long periods, and just letting one go with the flow, was probably very beneficial to me, and to millions of other kids, in that there was structure and order, and it repeated every week, sometimes more than once or twice a week, and that discipline was good for me.
        These days children and the young, find it hard to concentrate on being quiet and still for more than 30 secs at a time at most. My upbringing installed a discipline in me, that was good for my life to date, and it is structure and order that children lack these days. Attending religious practices as most people did when I was young, brought that into my psyche, and it stayed. When you see how children are brought up in modern times, they have everything given to them materially, they are allowed to question their parent’s authority, they have rights but of course, they have no responsibility, they have no structure or discipline at home as they are allowed to do what they want so that they can ” develop independently “, and they have no order at School, where they can ride rough shod over their teachers. It is no wonder that there are so many problems with delinquents. My upbringing, weird though I thought it at the time, imposed an idea to consider things before taking action, which I have always followed. I think it also played a big part in my individualism, and therefore my ability not to follow the crowd, not to be fearful of peer pressure, and that helped me steer clear of the recreational drugs that have caused some friends of mine to have awful lives….or not to have lives at all.
        The absurdities of the mutterings of terrorists about their view of their religion apart, to my mind, one of the big problems of modern society is a lack of religious observance and the rise of secularism, which only imparts the view of “me,me,me ” that thrives in Western society today.
        So, JoJ, it’s not a view that many would agree with, but in the 60’s when I was a child growing up, if there was a Murder, it was a headline news event, and would remain so until the murderer was caught. This year so far, I’ve read that 19 people have met violent ends in the UK from murder alone. Of those, 9 have been teenagers in London. In my day, if one had a disagreement, it might end in fists being used. Knives? No, never at all. Guns? No chance! And as an aside, I heard this week, that a Dutch reporter was able to get offered an AK47 with free bullets, for £180 or so in France, and it took him less than 24 hours to be able to get the item if wanted.
        My parents used to bemoan that the world had changed for the worst, and was not as safe as when they were young….which was rather funny considering that my Dad was born before WW1, and both of them lived through WW2! However, I think, looking back, that they were right. The world and certainly the UK, is far from safe these days, and that is very,very sad indeed. I wish it was not so.

        1. “My parents used to bemoan that the world had changed for the worst, and was not as safe as when they were young….which was rather funny considering that my Dad was born before WW1, and both of them lived through WW2!” – Damien Cullinane

          I find that comment most sobering. Without disrespecting the notion itself, which is very telling, I can’t help but think that perhaps the memories of your parents in regards to WW1 and WW2 may have diminished somewhat over time for them to make such a comment. Though I do completely understand the desire to make such a comment, and draw such an extreme parallel, when looking around at the values our modern society has adopted across most Western countries. However I maintain such desires are not rooted in fact.


          Incidentally and on another note, whilst you have found the silver lining, in the form of discipline/structure/patience, to the many hours of church service you did, fundamentally this quote from you is of most importance to me and is the seed to some of the evil’s we see.

          “…and it caused other problems such as I’d ask awkward questions, to which the only answers were that it was all down to believing…..and one had to believe, and that was that, no arguments etc etc.” – Damien Cullinane

          In essence, religion is the suspension of critical thought combined with the adherence to values and knowledge of a time of when any said religion was formed. For you, those values were formed about 2000 years ago and born mainly from the New Testament. Not a terrible series of fictional writings I might add, but fictional nonetheless.

          For others, perhaps those in the middle east as an example, it’s more worrying what scripture they have been forced to suspended their critical thinking for from childhood. The structure/patience/discipline received by the young ones over in such places may be incidental to the fact that various values on women, freedom, enlightenment etc are near cavemen like in treatment. Not dissimilar to various sub-sects of Christianity, Buddhism etc I might add.

          Additionally, the new army of disenfranchised Western youth, who so fervently search for meaning, justice, equality, a voice etc willingly throw away said critical thought and search for the most vicious and ‘empowering’ parts of these archaic writings. It must feel so good to feel so powerful for but a moment in ones sad life. Such idiocy. Such waste.

          Despite the silver lining you mentioned, there are other ways to discipline a child and imbue patience and structure into them without attempting to miswire their minds. Not all Churches espouse the New Testament.

          The real battle we need to win is the one at home, the one in our own streets, the one to properly empower and educate the growing army of disenfranchised youth looking for something in scribble that doesn’t exist. The answer to that is not in Church.

          Kind Regards,

          Scuderia McLaren

          1. I don’t think you picked up what I was alluding to. The point was that although the enforced weekly trips to church were not something I looked forward to, nor had an interest in, the actual application of having to keep still, and quiet, did me a lot of good. My wife went through a similar scenario in a different religion, and had the same experiences, we both think that the discipline we went through, worked well in instilling us both with the ability to be quiet, be still and just think to ourselves, which is what we both did to relieve the boredom of Sundays and other days when required to attend!!

            My parent’s views on the world, were not shaped by the wars, those were matters that one just had to live through and get over, as most of their generation did. However, what worried them was the violence in society, and the apparent acceptance that there was not a lot that could be done about it, which contrasted with the times that they grew up in, which were, so they used to tell me, much less violent….I don’t know, I wasn’t there!

            I wouldn’t get involved in an argument over what to believe or not, I have my own views and those might surprise you. Also, I wouldn’t denigrate other beliefs, as the people who claim that things are meant to be one way and not the other, are obviously reading what they want out of scriptures etc. The only other point I would make, is that not everything written 2000 years ago was fictional, it is true to say that what documents there were, were written by many people over an extended period of time, but there were factual people in most of it, as far as historians are aware.

            It is also the case that while some religions might not be as liberal as western ones, there are many people that follow them to the letter, who would not seek to harm anyone, and whose religious based civilizations were more advanced than western ones, way back in time, and in no way the same as cavemen!!

            There is a problem with how young people develop now, and in the west that is not helped by too much time spent on gaming with computers, on binge drinking and on drugs, but these are our problems in the main, and not those of the Middle East. Their problems are fanatical leaders who paint the wrong picture to young minds and distort their balance of right and wrong.

            We shall have to agree to disagree on our views, but I remain of the view that my upbringing, which placed an emphasis on discipline, and on respect for all other humans, as well as regard for the elderly among us, was a pretty decent way to grow up and one that I have tried, with quite a bit of success, to instil in my children.
            My youngest went back to London after Christmas with all of us, as she works and lives in the City. She’s always short of a £ or two, so as she got on the train, I spotted her £20 with the advice to buy something nice for dinner when she got home. Next thing I heard, on social media, was that she’d dropped in her local Tesco, to get something for her dinner, and came out with food for 3 homeless people spread along the street. I’m very proud of her, but she probably wouldn’t be the person she is, if not for what my parents and my Wife’s parents, did for us…and one should never stop learning about people and the world.

            Best regards, and hope you actually get a Win this year, Scuderia McLaren!

            Damian Cullinane.

        2. Hi Damian, and Happy New Year to you and yours! I’m sorry I came back just as the moment felt inappropriate to send personal greetings, with all that has befallen us, the current topics, so painfully, but I’m definitely the happier to be back and see you and many other friendly familiar souls, as always keeping this party (without celebration as meaning) going strong.

          I may not get this right, on a first take, but I was brought up with a generation gap and a bit: Mumsie is eighty four, dad would be one hundred and eight this year, had he lived on. And I grew up in a seaside town best known as a onetime retirement paradise. Well into the seventies, front doors were left open, and as a boy I had a sense of a small village, not a town of sixty thousand or so, as it had grown; there was almost nowhere unwelcoming to a small child, or unsafe for them. If anything, you felt you ran the gauntlet, to avoid so many elderly neighbors, who were desirous of young company! Without a doubt, my childhood was delightful, in so many ways.

          I was brought up with Latin Mass, also. But, differently to yourself, there was a gulf in understanding of religion between my parents. Friends of my father were deeply shocked he married a Roman Catholic. No less, a devout, convent educated, lass, from the very part of the country he almost loathed, as a professional courtesy for their unloving consideration of southerners… And so, from the earliest memories I have, there was friction and contention in our little family, and religious attitudes, both matters of spiritualism, devotion, social behavior, and comprehension in the widest sense. I was never once condescended to by my father; on the contrary, he was a highly religious man, extensively read, especially of scripture, who rather lacked, or tried to avoid condescension, and treated me as a peer, at least in expectations of my appreciation for his discourse. Though sometimes I think he was a bit oblivious, I certainly zoned out some days, this was amlufe of uncompromising tete a tetes.. dad loved a priest to visit: a challenge. At prep school, our priest said, not entirely lightly, that he thought over the holiday, I had been put on earth to challenge his faith. Omitting the inevitable tensions of a insular family with religion at both its heart, and cause of never ending argument, I think that vignette serves well, to describe my early, and genuinely happy, life.

          So I am very much inclined to agree with you, Damian. In fact, it would be impossible for me to disagree, because I was similarly raised. Although I was freed from obligations of churn going, by my father, not in any censorious way, mind you, simply he never forced that one way or the other, but was decisive to back me when I was disinclined, my life was no less strictly raised at home, than at church. That central practical belief in self restraint, manners and a fundamental idea of faith, was prominent in all my young life.

          I’m forty, but my step siblings are one in their eighties, and for many reasons, I kept older company (that was essential, to be in any kind of business, so young) and I can still cringe at memories of the boyish me even being so reprobate as to admonish friends’ parents, for things I thought out of order..

          All that of course, set up a rebellious instinct, as if one of those was not already inculcated in me by my father, who was as rebellious as one might get, in a character who was fearful of stepping out of line in society. He had good reason to be so fearful, I learned later, my own way, but that is another story.

          This all sounds like protestations: “But I am a good boy, also!”.

          And it is, of course, a lot of that.

          But, lately, especially talking over life with my mom, and following a misguided relationship that was imagined to be fêted in the stars, I’ve realised how out of step I may really be, in contemporary life. Talks with mom about what might make a suitable wife (what with all my failings, oh dear, all displayed too prominently by me in a theatrical “oh, woe is me” fashion, lately) and the while business of bringing up a family of my own (better to raise the subject, than have one’s elderly mom fretting the concern through every other means!) have made me realize quite how died in the wool a traditionalist probably am.

          To conclude, prematurely, but out of necessity and courtesy to those interested in F1 still, I have come to learn, indeed through some hard experience, the virtues of the strict upbringing I had. No, I do not advocate the ways and means by which I was brought up, they were altogether.. they were insanely imbalanced, and I am in awe at how humor never pierced, which it could have done so easily, resultant familial strife, but there existed other origins I was as a child unaware, that I understand now… but if what I remember, I think it caused in me a ability to regulate myself, even at times I was quite imbalanced in life, lost spiritually or personally, practically or impecuniosuly. What I learned, or rather found myself to learn in later life, using my own original impressions, rediscovered in lost memories, was a whole lot of good. Resultant on that, I fear for the next generations, in fact I fear for my own generation, and even those before me, because I think there is a frightening sense of personal, private, dislocation, among us widely. And that dislocation is something we all need to address. And that is why, askance maybe from the supposed central issued of religion and strict observance of social life which we both recollect, I think I simply agree with you, that there is so much to learn, and we may be at risk that much of this vital information to our survival, our happy survival, is potentially lost in time. I hope it is not. Sometimes I think of the fluke of my birth, and the precociousness of my youth, and the wasteland of what for many would be their prime, and think I maybe do have a purpose in life: to recall all this, positively. But, meanwhile, it’s a very good feeling indeed, to hear another hark to the same totems which have been generationally ridiculed and even taunted as strictures which have no value in modern life, that condemnation happening even before I was born. It’s good to hear such a “radical” and “unacceptable” and “totally out of touch” appraisal of our human worth, reassuring indeed.

          1. Hi JoJ, Happy New Year to you too! Interesting comments, and seems like we had similar growing experiences, although I’m 57, so almost a generation ahead of you. Always good to read you comments which range from rather off the wall ( lol ) to deeply thought out, and never dull!!
            Cheers John! keep ’em coming!

            1. Spring chicken!

              Or, my dad would say, “Boy!” 😅

              You see, you are almost a generation in years ahead of me, but my upbringing was stuck in the values, also skewed backwards by being immigrant, and so latching onto what was thought to be established, always behind, in social terms, of an entire other era. My dad notably failed to even lighten up, to capture the ridiculous tentative lessening restraint of fifties fiction, in a trio, if not trilogy, or romance novels: too staid, was the publisher’s admonition. You can still find a listing, at Amazon, for the fun of old databases never being cleaned out.. sorry I won’t help you, though, but I I doubt much is truly lost. I’ll put up, on the web, sometime, a play of his, which wasn’t broadcast (many were) that was specifically left to only me, written whilst he sat atop Beach Head, as the war unfurled across the sea.. I had to put up with every teacher telling me I was born middle aged… but what i’ll put up, publish, I guess, is very personal but ageless and simple. Pity such men are so driven, but no wonder he liked to push me to watch this F1 lark.

        3. Ah yes. Oh for the old days when children knew not to challenge adult authority. Deference to powerful and high profile people such as priests, MPs, the police, famous BBC Disc Jockeys and other men of power worked out really well for many poor, disadvantaged children who were able to benefit from the love and care of these adults. What rose tinted nonsense. I’d much rather grow up today. There may be more weapons on the streets but to think that the world is more brutal now is tosh. Street gangs have been around since the dawn of time in one form or another. Victorian London was an horrendously violent place. Thugs openly fighting with knives. Cable St riots. Every generation despairs for the one that follows but only because they now have an adults perspective and idealise their own childhood. Plus ca change. Abuse of the vilest, sickest kind by the strongest against the weakest was just swept under the carpet previously. At least that’s changing. I think today’s kids are great. No better or worse than yesterday’s. But great all the same.

          1. Well, my dad was 19, when the Cable Street “battle” happened, and his big brother worked the docks for Customs, then, so I’ve had some very direct explanations of what witnesses thought of the time, with the advantage of some nearly sixty years further reflection.

            I am not in agreement I would rather grow up today, if I look at the way in which family life seems to be so maltreated by all. But, caveat, below…

            But, this really is far too deep and unnecessary a debate, for this blog, as much as I would like to recount to you some first hand recollections of that era, which were recounted to me with seriousness, from the moment my dad thought I could understand what such things might mean. I know my father did not want me to have grown up as he did as a child, he endured a cruel early life. But that was why he put himself out so, so ensure I experienced my young life so differently. The critical difference, is the lack, today, of parents so driven by such experiences, and the seeming absence of maturity to be even able to better life for their children, because the entire responsibility appears wholly abdicated. I do despair for so much, but it only makes me want to change things. Or, rather, exhort others so I might not be alone.

            Meanwhile, this F1 thing, is what I think we all truly want to be handed down in a better state, to our next generations, so, as Joe advises us, let’s get back to that. In comparison, it ought it be a much simpler, far more achievable goal for us to attain, and I exhort everyone who cares to think that they do have a ability to affect that fir the positive future.

    1. Here here, NOT AFRAID.

      He may not be everyone’s taste, he wasn’t to mine, before I got intrigued and read about him, but I just played again, Eminem’s song, Not Afraid, and I find his lyrics always highly positive, affirming without the ego that is too quickly attributed to him.

      That sentiment, NOT AFRAID, needs to permeate much more of life, than we may each admit we may need to reflect upon our self conceptions. It’s a good, developing, start, to thinking about our worlds.

      1. I agree JoJ.

        Fear can be disabled by knowledge, brought on by critical thought, combined with the true understanding that the feeling of fear itself provides no salvation from the issue that evokes such a feeling.

        These word by Franklin D. Roosevelt are no less true today then they were when the great man spoke them originally.

        “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”

        You might be interested in a reply post I made above.

        Kind Regards,

        Scuderia McLaren

        1. Great quote, Scuderia, top stuff to manage a mind by.

          Do you not think, also that the purpose of the assertion, that fear of fear is what we must conquer, has a greater relevancy, more practical, this:

          If once we set to think what we are afraid of, it becomes always either the most benign, or the most terrifying. Little is much in between. Either way, we are informed as to what our purpose must be; if it is benign, then we address it with the normalcy of life, as a mere part of how we live as men, yet if, upon analysis, we are truly frightened, then we must be willed to avert any such thing to occur, and all our energies should be so diverted.

          I think that is a valid test, whether bungee jumping, or writing political thought. The wonderful thing is, and I am a confirmed scaredy cat when it comes to adventuring all kinds, really this world is a much more accommodating place that one ever first may assume, it is pliable to good intent, and luckily, hopefully whilst stocks last, set against the negatives of human irresponsibility. Time to check the stock on the shelves, though, maybe..

  7. An Englishman in France, and one who within his own genre is always prepared to speak up and often swim against the tide of opinion. Joe Saward we salute you. Today we are all Parisians. #JeSuisCharlie

  8. I had never heard of Charlie Hebdo, but I gather it was the French equivalent of Private Eye. We would be equally outraged if Ian Heslop and co were attacked in the UK, as again we don’t all agree with everything he prints but defend his right to do so.

    The fact that the French security services already knew about these terrorists but did not move against them is a symptom of today’s extreme crippling political correctness which seems to run through everything distorting the real issues and hampering the work of the unsung security services. However congratulations to the French forces (whoever they were) in their swift and successful action.

    We know that there are groups under surveillance in the UK who are plotting “terror” events but our services are unable to take any pre-emptive action. Even our soldiers home from the middle east are now being charged with offences occurring during the heat of battle several years ago, in the appeasement of political manoeuvrings.
    We hope that COBRA contingent is able to get its finger out and have its compound arse pre-covered, so that our guys can take control quickly and move with the same speed as we saw in France, instead of standing by while politics takes place.

    1. rpaco, our laws and police work on the principal of arresting for crimes committed, not upon thoughts. If the people under surveillance had not committed any crime, then there is no action. This is how it MUST be, otherwise you’re walking into an awfully dangerous place where speech becomes an indicator of criminality … and is therefore no longer free.

      1. I think that is the wrong way to look at the problem BenK. The terrorists were not unknown to the security services in France, but they had been downgraded as a lesser threat in the last year.
        Certainly one of them had been to Iraq and Syria, to fight, and in my world, I’m afraid that this fact would result in me either locking them up on their return to my country, or and better still, just refusing them re-entry to my country, and sending them back to Iraq or Syria….as my Mum used to say, ” you’ve made your bed, so you have to lie on it!”.
        Speech is an indicator of criminality if the recorded speech indicates a desire to inflict criminal action upon others, so I’m afraid that if one goes on record stating that one intends harm to others, then that is a strong basis for removing a person from society as far as I can see it.
        In the current situation, if we rely only on arresting people when they have committed atrocities such as in this week in France, then many entirely innocent people will continue to die needlessly. I would sooner lock up 3 or 4 fanatics and deprive them of our world of Freedoms, than see One single person die at their hands. Maybe that is extremist too, but I think if you asked people, the majority would support that view.

      2. COBRA is normally convened after the crime is committed. We then wait for many hours while politicians rush in circles making sure they cannot be blamed for any bad outcome.

        Conspiracy to commit murder is a crime, possession of firearms, bomb making materials etc. If we got all them, before the act was carried out crime rate would drop. If we were then allowed to deport them we would feel safer, but unfortunately we must spend millions on them instead.

        BTW speech can get you arrested very easily in the UK.

        As always of course, I blame Tony Blair! 🙂

        1. rpaco….don’t even go there with my thoughts on Mr Blair! If ever the country had a disaster, it was in May 1997, and we are still living with the effects of that mess, not only that, but incredibly, there are still people who shout his name as some sort of Saint, instead of a mealy mouthed self aggrandiser and smiley snake…..he makes me so angry, I’m going to have to take my bp pills just thinking of the damage he and his mates did to us! Grrrrr!

        2. Point of Order . . .

          COBRA is a room where there are government meetings – it is Cabinet Office Briefing Room A (hence COBRA). To say it is normally convened after a crime is committed is not wholly correct as there have been COBRA meetings to discuss Ebola this year, Flooding last year – Severe weather for a number of years indeed. It is for crisis management to be discussed rather than simply crime. The comment about politicians rushing in circles though – now thats probably not far from the truth 🙂

    2. “The fact that the French security services already knew about these terrorists but did not move against them is a symptom of today’s extreme crippling political correctness”

      It absolutely is *not*. They had not, at the time they were monitoring them, committed any offence, so on what basis would they have to arrest them? The simple fact is you can’t stop people committing things like this. That’s how the British government messed up the extradition of certain people under an anti-terrorism agenda – they actually hadn’t committed any offence, they just sought to extradite them on the basis that they *might*. And when that sort of thing starts happening, then everyone really needs to be fearful for their own rights, because one day its the (suspected) terrorists they are charging, the next they could extend it to other people – that’s you included – without any act even having being committed, only the suspicion that you may do so in the future. The State can only take – and in fact should only take – such preventative action as is viable in the circumstances. Put it this way. I’m at work at the moment on a break. What’s to stop me going into the staff kitchen, getting the biggest kitchen knife I can find, and then taking it outside and plunging it into the first person that passes me by? What could the government have done to prevent such a thing happening? Nothing

    1. But therein lies the question: who is to be the recipient of such a wondrous missile? And there, is the squirming, frenetic, mass who claim the privileges that should rightfully attach to true stewards of our futures, as they cash in their political chips, so cheaply renewed by our beguiled self appointed political classes, or anyone who can vote for their self enrichment and similar abdication of adulthood, to skip out any of any genuine responsibility.

        1. Looks like I was self defeating, sorry Eahorc, I made a mess of that.

          What meant was there can be complexity within a simple thing, or even a statement. Wisdom in practicality. Genius in the obvious. And so on, so that one maybe best not to assume that something at first appearing trite, is of no value, or old wives’ tales useless, and the like. I hope I made that a bit clearer… this being simple yet insightful is still new to me! ~j

  9. +1 to all comments.

    “not being afraid to say what you think; to tell these murderous fanatics that their simplistic beliefs are worthless and that their actions will only harden our resolve.”

    The problem is that they know what we think… it’s their fuel and they thrive on it. They have no interest or desire in comprehending or taking any notice of anything we think or tell them; that is what we are up against. Whose side are Human Rights lawyers on…? they seem to think that the likes of these people – terrorists and those who preach hate against any society that disagrees with their beliefs should be treated fairly and THEIR “rights” respected; morals vs money… guilty by association, awful.

    As for saying what we think (aka free speech), we don’t have any… you only need to listen/watch biased media crap such as QT to see that evidence.

    Vive la France.

    Not an F1 comment, so I understand if you don’t post this Joe.

    1. A very simplistic view I’m afraid, much in the same vein as many others above – a little more reflection is sadly lacking. Sorry benM it’s more complicated than that. It’s not just about free speech (that’s a given).

      1. In design, from art to engineering, complexity if oft embedded in simplicity, even elegance of simplicity. Is it so, in thought or understanding? That, rather, depends on the man who speaks, or maybe the observation of the observer. But I never let the simplicity of a thought, now, with some hard experience, trick me into thinking there is no complexity of design, or understanding, albeit possibly a intellect or appreciation I do not like, behind “simple” statements.

        1. There’s simplicity and then there’s ignorance. Then there’s a lack appreciation of another country’s culture John, which altogether different. I’m referring in part to that. I don’t want to get deeper than that in what has become an emotive subject, too deep for a F1 blog.

          1. Yes, I agree with that. I used to get peeved with my dad’s retort of “intolerant of intolerant” (or intolerance), because I always thought there was something to still be caught in every appreciation. That’s odd, considering he was a naturally acutely observant man, but maybe in a very bipolar, black or white way. It’s odd, I grew up having altogether too much faith in the next man, for my own good, in reaction to his terrible tales of human nature. But that, like as you say, all of this, is too emotive a subject for here. But it’s a fine thing indeed, that we may (and may be allowed to) touch upon any of it, intelligently, and with care, at all. A little reminder suffices better than a full discussion, often enough. Very best from me ~j

  10. Although you sometimes come across as a liberal, I’m pleasantly surprised you defend the right to freedom of speech. The problem we are having now are too many liberals who cave in to the terrorists by resigning to giving up freedom of speech in order to please the Muslims and stay alive. Talk about being a weasel!

    Apart from what we can do on a personal level, which you have aptly explained, France and Europe now need to do some things to solve this problem. First on the list should be to improve intelligence services, immediately deport ANYONE suspected of ties to radicalism and stop letting Muslims in to the country.

    Of course, the current crop of politicians are too scared to do anything sensible like this, which means unfortunately, the best choice for France at the next election is Jean-Marie Le Pen.

    1. Where do you ‘deport’ a French citizen to if he has ties to ‘radicalism’. A ‘Muslim’ country? Your views are as reprehensible as those you claim to oppose.

      1. St. Helena maybe. Wouldn’t be the first time either. Perhaps the only way to serve the islamic extremists their well deserved Waterloo. Elba might not be a good idea, though. They might come back from there.

    2. I would contend that those are the things NOT to do.

      We must not only continue our lives, we must ensure that our freedoms are not diminished, and we must resist the call to place the blame for the horrific actions of a few individuals at the feet of a particular group.

      Europe has fallen victim to (largely manufactured) tension along ethnic lines in the past; it must not be allowed to happen again. It will destroy the societies we have built over the last century. This is exactly what these people desire.

      1. Tom, what these people in fact desire is to free the world of all non moslems. Thats what their prophet said, many centuries ago. These people simply live in the past. They have not realised that the world moved on in the meantime.

        1. The suffering caused by the attacks in recent days is secondary to their primary purpose; to provoke a reaction based on fear.

          Turn against a minority in society, and they will turn against you. Continue down that road and you will find yourself in a very dark, scary place which barely resembles the present.

    3. Well said Joe and the vast majority of commentators above. When these things happen it’s uplifting to see the politics and petty bickering that blight daily life fade away and see a solidarity and common humanity emerge. Unfortunately there’s also always someone almost gleefully seizing an opportunity to spread their nasty agenda. “…the best choice for France at the next election is Jean-Marie Le Pen” sums this horrible comment up perfectly.

    4. Jean Marie LePen? He hasn’t stood for election as President since 2007…
      I think you mean Marine LePen, his daughter? Whilst the FN party has some strong support, and Marine LePen may well get to the 2nd round of voting, I think you will find that French voters will stick to the usual to and fro between “la gauche et la droite” in the end.
      If you want to live in a police state with even more helmeted and heavily armed police everywhere, your solutions sound great! But my feeling is you would in fact get nowhere near where you think you want to get to. Read some history, the answers are all there…

    5. Not a well thought-through comment.

      Liberals are the ones who defend the rights of all to speak, including those whose views run directly opposite to one’s own. Le Pen and her ilk are precisely the the types who would fail to defeat the universal right to free speech.

      Just as a by-the-way, you’re aware the the despicable Jean-Marie is no longer active in politics, right? You’re probably thinking of his daughter, the equally idiotic Marine Le Pen, who is every bit as much not the answer for France as her father ever was. This is the woman, remember, who likened Muslims praying in the street to Nazi occupation.

    6. This is hugely unfair, ignorant and ridiculous bigotry and you should not associate all Muslims with a few fanatical morons who are also Muslims.

      Adolf Hitler was a Christian who persecuted and killed millions of Jews so should we say all Christians are like Hitler? Which is essentially what you are saying about Muslims. The terrorists need to be stopped but don’t just assume they are all the same.

  11. From a Parisian reader, thank you for your great post. Not being afraid, and educating those who think their way is more important that anyone else, is the only solution.

  12. Sadly it is all too easy to whip up hate amongst the Muslim community towards the Western nations, not helped by our actions in the Middle East, Afghanistan and so on, but there are nation states that support this kind of activity and they need to be ‘sorted out’, permanently, so that peace will prevail.

    Religion is a truly powerful tool and is very destructive in the wrongs hands and among the uneducated and poor.

    I’m not an advocate of any kind of action be it terrorism or military action by the West, but there seems to be a growing gulf between those in the West and the Muslims in general that needs to be repaired.

    The French murders are just appalling, no other word for it, and the concerted action by the French authorities was good to see. I’d like to think that it can be made right for everyone, but experience suggests that this has far to go yet.

    1. I hate that this is true, but these things rest in my mind hard: I’ve a couple of good friends whom are Muslim, from Bangladesh, I don’t know how you could have so many as neighbors and not become close to a few, but I feel odd and exceptionalist for referencing this, I would knot, were it not for the nasal things… and there is a full on tension if we are spotted together in public; some of their friends they grew up with want no to do with any the likes of me, and I make out like I’m a stranger, to spare my mates’ social reactions. It’s worrying me lately, just how much genuine dislike is brushed similarly ender the carpet. I didn’t wholly escape caricature pigeon holing as my father wished i’d blend in, the irony of it all stings… but what may hurt should provoke only painful reflection, not action. I surely don’t look it, but I’m third generation immigrant, myself. Willfully stupidly blind talk of a multicultural country, whilst policy opened doors “natives” did not know existed, was a dangerous, foolish, thing, we are merely human.

  13. Well said Joe. Sadly though, they’re words many will pay no attention to and go on with their warped views.

  14. Speaking of the open-air markets in Paris and environs, I’ve often noticed that many of the stalls today are staffed by Arabs and other people descended from immigration. It is a sign of hope for the future that some of the cultural legacy for which France is famous lives on thanks to the willingness of Muslims and North Africans to take on the hard work and belief in its value that it requires. France has changed a lot since the golden era of Beltoise, Cevert, and de Gaulle, but some things will always endure, not only in spite of, but even because of the increasing diversity of its population. That hope looks very much under threat after this week’s events, but it will triumph in the long run.

  15. I disagree. I think they know our civilization works, because they are living in it and using it for their purposes, and they hate our civilization. I am reminded of an editorial by John W. Campbell editor of Astounding Science Fiction, in the 1960s, probably the late 60s, about the barbarians who would live in our civilization and accept the benefits of it, but never be a part of it or contribute to it. Charles Martel turned them back in 734; the Spanish beat them out in the late 1400s; they were turned back from the gates of Vienna in 1529 and 1683. Now, they have been allowed/invited inside.

    1. A rather simplistic historical view.
      Do some research on the Ottomans, arguably considerably more liberal than their contemporary Christian regimes, particularly regarding allowing those of other religions to live amongst them. The Ottoman navy was sent to transport the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492.

      History is not black and white. It is entirely possible that if the (christian) 4th crusade in 1204 had not attacked and sacked Christian city of Constantinople instead of its original target Jerusalem, the weakened city would not have subsequently fallen to the muslims, and might still be Constantinople rather than Istanbul. (The only place the name Constantinople is used now seems to be the departure board at Athens airport.)

      Muslims and Christians were both certainly barbaric viewed by modern standards, and equally convinced that God was on their side.

      Try visiting a modern Muslim city working on western principles, 99.999% of the population are just like everyone else in world, they just get on with life, family, job etc. They want life to improve, they have children and have no interest in going back to some nutters idea of a 7th century golden age.

    2. In case anyone thinks Sam L. is me (help!), I thought I’d post a bit of Victor Hugo I have seen quoted in the last few days. It seems to chime with Joe’s post, and appropriately it is from ‘Notre Dame de Paris’: “La liberté commence où l’ignorance finit” – freedom starts where ignorance ends.

    3. Then we are all too close to being barbarians, for us to whittle away a wasted moment, doing other than trying to build things new, try life anew, to make of ourselves and especially those around us, whatever might even only in theory be better: because we are all so close to bent but barbarians, powerless to make even a pencil for ourselves, before the miracles that civilized life and science has brought us. I cannot stand the idea of persecuting anyone’s faith, but I very early in my life realized that religion was naturally opposed to societal willpower to innovate and create, for the very idea of creation negated these human abilities and we were denounced as sinners and made to consider only how we may repent for a life we hope to transform only after we cease to exist. And yet, I am a religious man, maybe deeply so. Because I believe in the spirit of mankind, and that a great earl of what we need, even liven is a spiritual aspect of our lives. It just is not helped by institutional religion presently. Look back, at the Moors in Spain, or many earlier religions, largely not catholic, and you find great innovation. But, equally, the benefit of enlightened powers, often found in small, isolated lands, who were lucky to have benevolent rulers.

      How close we are to nothing.

      That is something, both science and religion, can teach us, usefully.

  16. Joe, the only part of your blog that I disagree with is where you say:

    “Sure, things go wrong and people overstep the mark, but the response is not to take up guns and end up being blasted into the arms of Allah, but rather to curb those who transgress and move on”

    In my opinion the cartoons that Charlie Hebdo published should not be “curbed”. Is this what you were implying? I am aware that others feel very strongly that these things cause serious offence and should therefore be curbed. But I would be very concerned if we censored comment only on the grounds that it caused some offence or even that it was intentionally provocative.

    I think the attitude we should encourage is to give voice to our feelings of offence, definitely not to curb or censor, and to then move on whether the person who has offended us chooses to accommodate our feelings or not. We can’t always agree but we must never resort to violence.

  17. Well said Joe, the only way to respond to inhumanity like this is to show more humanity, not less; more civilisation, not less. Pretty much as the marches in Paris have shown. This should also be a reminder that the freedoms we tend to take for granted (not just freedom of speech, but also the freedom to think of ourselves as individuals) have been hard won and are based on thoroughly thought-out philosphical principles. I think this society can sometimes come across as complacent, which can obscure those roots. It would be good to remind ourselves and the wider world of what we actually stand for and how that came about – the much maligned Enlightenment and people like Locke or Kant.

    Bit of a shame to see people who might be descibed as fundamentalists themselves try to spin this to fit their own world view even on the comments to this post. Remember: Muslims who do not adhere to the idiotic branch of fundamentalism of these people are just as much targets, if not more so. The issue is not race or religion, but the values we stand for and how to deal effectively with people who attack those values, irrespective of their race or religion. Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of Rotterdam said it well: “if you truly can’t find your place in this society, if it bothers you thus much, just b*gger off.”

  18. Well said Joe!
    “the response is to……….curb those who transgress”
    The problem, as always, is defining the transgression.
    The extremists were only applying this in their own way.
    Their guiding philosophy is to get us to change our definition ot the trangression.
    In the short time it seems to backfire, but in the longer term it may still work out.
    I hope not!

  19. I think it was Nelson Mandela that said this, although I stand to be corrected on that. He said that people are not born hating. They are taught to hate. I really can’t think of anything more succinct and truer regarding these terrorists.

  20. Lotsa brave talk bandied about. We’ll see. First to my mind is Aesop: “It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.” Most of the brave talkers would go silent if this threat came close to them. Dick Gregory, prominent black comedian/activist, said in the ’70s: “People don’ mess with people who’ll mess back at ’em.” Most of those brave satirists would go (maybe have already gone) back to the safety of mocking Christians, who don’t fight back. If you know what day it is, you’ll see that inclination behind the left-leaning Charlie-questioning rhetoric on TV.

  21. Excellent piece the post; one could not expect differently , knowing the brilliant use of logic and reasoning you always do when adressing the issues, almost all related to F1 ( of course).
    And there is the fact you are a citizen in the city it happened the barbarism – I was waiting to be able to read your thoughts on it since when I realized you would probably be in the city, that, some hours after the attack.
    Just saw the cover of CharlieHebdo first edition after the attack , saw in a Brazilian news webpage, couldn’t help but had a laughter, the drawing in itself is funny , cartoonists there are really good and the image has added a humanistic quality to the muslim man represented there (where it is told is a representation of the Prophet?) , a real touché back hit to what the terrorists did (do).

    Just hope self censorship do not be adopted over screens and papers in the Western press – don’t have to be overdone the publicizing of it, the cartoonists so good, just need its right , fair amount of attention (well, it was not the cartoonists who made the whole world so much curious about the toons, was it?).

    The millions on the streets of France all Sunday, it made me feel quite optimistic about endurance/resilience of freedom of expression (not sure these are the best words for what I’m trying to express, sorry English is not my prime language).

    Thank you Joe, and thanks to all for the comments I read here.

    Fernando A. , from São Paulo BR.

  22. My 2 cents. I think the problem is us, for about a decade we have read that Saudia Arabia and Yemen has been financing Wahabist/Salafist “education ” ? A headline this past week stated that a former military intelligence exhorted the powers that be to address that situation? Up to now the silence has been deafening! Is that because this planets economic system would grind to halt if the group of 7 or 8 demand a change of policy from the guilty parties? After all Big Oil has quite a nice revenue stream at this time , and it’s not in ( their view) best interest to to upset the apple cart. I say the problem is us because I recall the heated discussion over the issue of Formula One holding an event in states where human rights had it appeared taken a back seat! And by the way is there an event scheduled for “Quatar” in 2015? Not to imply that location alone is guilty or not ,as despite subscribing to the mag “GP+ last 3 seasons I am unable to recall what desert locations have met the bolts approval this past three years! Without straining my grey matter too much it’s easy to recall leading teams gladly recycling Petro $ from this very lucrative area….Williams, Saudia Airlines, Maclaren TAG turbo V6 ,etc etc. No ! In the same way we all hold our nose and climb on the OLYMPICS band wagon,no matter how vile the Juntas behaviour,we all go with the flow.Kudos to Webber for his voice letting us know there had been some thoughts at least on the subject! Ok I’ll shut up now . Had to agree with Damian re the structure thing.dont believe in any supreme being at this time . The ethic portrayed in Movie” Mrs Miniver” I can understand and admire, it’s all being part of society and that adherence to some structure and being taught parables such as ( The Good Samaritan) that we new was just a story made up to illustrate good behaviour.Even as toddlers we “Got It” I worked alongside a chap who was a “boat person” with all that implies, he is brilliant, wife and kids always smiling?? Salmon Rushdie’s statement was the first thing I read on this issue several days ago, and he nailed it!!! Thanks Joe for letting us vent.

    1. Wahabi religion or religious practice is intertwined with the house of Saud. The Wikipedia entry alone is a pretty good start on the complexities, none of this is revelatory. I am increasingly minded the disservice we do to ourselves, is to not recognize our differences, and so let the friction of acceptance become normal daily talk, rather than avoided debate, and we bury ourselves, eventually, in false and politicized ideals of homogeneity. We’ve a lot of simple talk to catch up with, the link below is to a variety of that that was most productive, in salving internal wounds:

      A very good talk over Russian kitchen politics, put here as a idea of how, in one time secrecy, really a lot of good was brought out, among the grains of sand which make up society, and which I think is already how we are progressing, if there is progress at all:

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