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thoroughly enjoyable schadenfreude over the embassy cable revelations. none of the so-called secrets that i've read about so far have really been secrets at all, just confirmations of what most people already knew if they read far enough into a decent newspaper (members of the afghan government are siphoning millions of dollars out of the country, prince andrew is a loose canon who'd prefer the government not to investigate overseas business fraud, berlusconi is taking kickbacks from putin… this looks like a herd of bears crapping in the woods to me). the big exception so far seems to be the directive to us diplomats to steal private information from political figures at the un and elsewhere, including passwords and 'biometric information', surely for the purpose of accessing private accounts, communications and databases, and i really do think the victims of this kind of thing need to know about it.
so far i can't see how anyone has been hurt as a result of the revelations (i think it is more likely that lives will be saved), except perhaps hilary clinton who is making an arse of herself trying to wriggle out of responsibility for having signed the above un spying directives, possibly with her left hand while thinking about something else. it's also interesting watching other members of the obama administration affecting a tactical outrage which is slowly fading to weary acceptance because they know, clearly, that no great harm has been done, since everyone in the circles of power knew these things already and in certain cases - china losing patience with north korea for example - wider dissemination has probably given them more leverage.
ironies abound. e.g. joe lieberman forcing the shutdown of the wikileaks website as if utterly blind to the words google and china free speech. ior indeed that many people - republicans mostly - are calling for julian assange to be, if not quite eaten by dogs on live tv, then prosecuted, presumably under the antique espionage act of 1917 while susan rice is hiding in a toilet cubicle ten floors above east 42nd street trying to get a clandestine urine sample from ban ki moon.
trawling through an encyclopaedia of c.1939 for red house stuff i stumbled on this extraordinary vehicle of which i had never heard before. it was real, it was built and ran in glasgow in the mid 30's and carried people, albeit for just over a hundred yards before its inventor went bankrupt halting any further development.
curious incident has been chosen as one of the 25 titles that will make up the million books to be given away on world book night january. the whole idea is rather brilliant, not least because it seems fabulously crazy. best of all it's about reading not just as a magical private experience but as a communal one. giving books, sharing books, talking about books. doing something else instead of watching i'm a celebrity get me out of here. it's about getting nervous / unwilling readers reading more and getting avid readers reading differently. hell, i might even dip my toe into a lee childs.
respect to mr jamie byng of canongate for being the evil genius behind the project.
the red house (the next novel, halfway complete, though it's probably bad voodoo to say so) contains lots of found text and images. old books, prints, banknotes, bus-tickets, maps, diagrams... some of it i haven't used but can't quite bear to abandon, so here seems as good place as any to share it. this was a book that my father (a very good swimmer) had as a boy:
... at last we are under way. as an old time warrior, i am looking round for signs of the weather, and, lo! i behold my old enemy, the tinge of red sky away in the distance. i call the attention of my trainer, and also of the pilot, who shrugs and says it is nothing.
but in my own heart i know that it is fatal to my success; yet i cannot turn back. ye gods! the press are on board, and the sea is dead calm and like glass. i should be called a shirker if i suggested turning back, as the conditions look so perfect to those who do not understand. so with a heavy heart i carry on...