Laugh and duck

Wife: I have blisters on my hands from the broom handle.

Husband: I’ve told you before. Use the car.

Ray E.

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The Exodus Incident: when emotion met geopolitics

A common view at the time was that he [Bevin] was antisemitic and this influenced his policies.1

Exodus 1947: The ship that launched a country


In an act of imperial hubris, Britain accepted the Mandate2 for Palestine. It was meant to run from 1923 to 1948. Britain was fully aware of the Zionist desire for a Jewish Homeland but no-one appreciated its geopolitical significance. The inter-war period saw Palestine become attractive to young European Jews. This caused inter-communal challenges. The incoming Jewish population was relatively rich and highly educated, unlike the majority Arab population. Palestine became a refuge during the 1930s for large numbers of German Jews. The British had to impose quotas to manage Palestine’s transformation into an Arab-Jewish region. Those quotas remained in the immediate post-war period. The Exodus Incident was an attempt to breach those quotas.

The Palestine Mandate 1923-48

The Exodus Incident, 1947

The Exodus Incident was an attempt to bounce Britain into permitting open access into Palestine for survivors of the Holocaust. The timing was impeccable. The trials of Nazi war criminals were attracting worldwide attention as the genocidal persecution was revealed in all its horror.3 Europe’s Jewish population had suffered unparalleled violence far outstripping Tsarist pogroms and quite rightly, they wanted a Homeland for mutual safety.4

The Exodus Incident was a coup de theatre. The Exodus had 4,515 Holocaust survivors fleeing the world’s worst persecution, looking for a place of safety. Rational discussion was trumped by visceral emotion and the British were utterly cack-handed.

Not only was the Exodus 1947 attacked and boarded, but it was returned to France who refused responsibility. The Jewish survivors refused to disembark and the French wouldn’t force the issue. Then, unbelievably, the Exodus was redirected to Germany. Once there the passengers were forced to disembark. Jewish Holocaust survivors were ‘housed’ in a former concentration camp. This wasn’t an accident,

The British knew their actions would be unpopular. John Coulson, a diplomat at the British Embassy in Paris, cabled the Foreign Office in London in August 1947: “You will realize that an announcement of decision to send immigrants back to Germany will produce violent hostile outburst in the press. … Our opponents in France, and I dare say in other countries, have made great play with the fact that these immigrants were being kept behind barbed wire, in concentration camps and guarded by Germans.”5

Whatever moral authority the British had, was lost with the Exodus Incident. Jewish leaders wouldn’t negotiate and neither would the Arabs, which predictably led to the first Arab-Israeli war 1947-9. This established Israel as a nation-state and Britain’s Mandate ended in disaster. Earnest Bevin wasn’t anti-Semitic and neither was the British government. It was incapable of resolving the conflicting pressures of an indigenous Arab population and incoming European Jews. The British attempted to mitigate the problem with quotas, which failed under pressure from Holocaust survivors. Britain couldn’t resolve the challenges and neither has anyone else over the subsequent seventy-two years.

1 Earnest Bevin was the British Foreign Secretary 1945-51

2 The British Mandate in Palestine was created in part at least to facilitate a Jewish Homeland but this aspiration had absolutely no credibility on the ground. Land purchases by Jewish settlers meant that there were Jewish enclaves throughout Palestine which had to be consolidated. The post-war chaos exacerbated this problem and Britain baled out once the difficulty was seen to be intractable. See

3 There were several Nazi war trials in addition to Nuremberg. See

4 An important source is Other Jewish survivors looked to begin new lives with families who’d settled in the west, principally the UK and the USA. In brief Palestine wasn’t the number one destination for all Jewish survivors.


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Drug addicts in San Francisco

San Francisco has more drug addicts than it has students enrolled in its public high schools, the city Health Department’s latest estimates conclude.

There are about 24,500 injection drug users in San Francisco — that’s about 8,500 more people than the nearly 16,000 students enrolled in San Francisco Unified School District’s 15 high schools

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Dorothy Thompson’s Christmas Card list

Dorothy frowned and said she simply couldn’t forgive him [Hobsbawn] for accepting the Companion of Honour: ‘OK for an actor or entertainer, but absolutely not for serious, critical intellectual work – I’m afraid I had to strike him off my Christmas card list.’

Letter: Tim Towers London Review of Books 9th May 2019 p4

[Both Hobsbawn and Thompson were major British historians in the mid-20th Century]

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Book Review: John Carreyrou ~ Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (2018)

Without trivialising this wonderful book I was reminded of a joke as I followed the career of Elizabeth Holmes:

Q. What’s a gold mine?

A. A hole in the ground owned by a liar

Elizabeth worshipped Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. She used their lives as a recipe. She too dropped out of university as a teenager, exploited family connexions and raised capital for her company Theranos.

Theranos manufactured a medical device, which deleted the necessity of syringe based blood tests. They were replaced by a simple finger prick. Her device would quickly analysis this tiny sample thereby avoiding costly laboratory work. It was also wildly implausible. Elizabeth didn’t have a Ph.D in bioengineering but she was a consummate actor. She self-identified as a female Steve Jobs. Her voice pitch was lowered and she adopted the polo necked shirt that Jobs always wore.

Elizabeth’s device didn’t work. It couldn’t. It was a technological impossibility. But she sold her dream to investors as ignorant as herself. The dream was plausible because Silicon Valley had real life examples of implausible dreams becoming tangible billion dollar companies. For example Rupert Murdoch* invested a small amount in Uber and struck gold. He invested $120M in Theranos and was wiped out.

True con artists prey on the gullibility of those blinded by glittering promises: they con themselves! Elizabeth must have known her device had terminal problems but she continued regardless. And investors invested regardless. Theranos became a multi-billion $$ company without ever producing a profit. Medical investment managers didn’t invest in Theranos because they knew the science and didn’t buy the dream.

Carreyrou writes beautifully and has turned the story of Theranos into a thriller. Just how did Elizabeth deceive so many people for so long? How do she get huge contracts for a device, which was a prototype? And how did she get a stellar board of Americas great and the good (like Murdoch and Kissinger). Elizabeth believed that wishing something to be true it became true.

Her story continues.**

* Murdoch comes out this very well. Elizabeth tried to get him to use his influence as the owner of the Wall Street Journal to halt Carryrou’s investigation. He refused.

** Go to

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Blackadder: series one- the medieval period

King: Chiswick, remind me to send flowers to the king of France in sympathy for the death of his son.

Chiswick: The one you had murdered, my lord?

King: Yes, that’s the fellow.


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Woefully Inadequate

Woefully inadequate.
A fool can pretend,to hold wisdom
Bamboozle the masses, aping charm
Sucker the brainless, he’ll do no harm
Relying on clichéd aphorism.

A lazy fool,is even worse
Refusing advice well given
Always judging what’s perverse
When his reason is, macho driven.

A lightweight Prime Minister
Who’s intent might be seen as sinister
Like a child ill-disciplined and unpredictable
Capricious, impulsive, relying on a miracle.

Blustering with optimism
Cringingly, he speaks without care
No concern if he creates a schism
Believes there’s security, in being unaware.

Born into wealth, his whole life built on self
His premiership is frightening
As he changes like lightning
Nobody else matters, only himself.

He thinks misogamist are normal
His bombastic attitude acceptable
Even though it’s awful
He doesn’t realise, he a stupid spectacle.

How long will this nightmare last
Before the public, see through his scam
As he makes sillier and sillier forecasts
And see him for what he is – a madman.

His day will come and go
Saner people will take his evolve
As discontent in him must grow
His madness, eventually – dissolve.


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