Freedom

Hero

Tuesday, 9 July, 2013 0 Comments

Perhaps, the most glorious Wikipedia introduction ever written:

Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 — 5 June 1963), was an English officer of Belgian and Irish descent. He fought in the Boer War, World War I, and World War II, was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear, survived a plane crash, tunneled out of a POW camp, and bit off his own fingers when a doctor wouldn’t amputate them. He later said “frankly I had enjoyed the war.”

By the way, in 1908 he married Countess Friederike Maria Karoline Henriette Rosa Sabina Franziska Fugger von Babenhausen. She died in 1949 and in 1951, at the age of 71, he married Ruth Myrtle Muriel Joan McKechnie, then 23 years his junior. She died in 2006 at the age of 102. Sir Adrian died at the family home in County Cork in Ireland in 1963, aged 83. His was an heroic life.

Adrian Carton de Wiart


George Orwell: “Politics and the English Language”

Thursday, 9 May, 2013 0 Comments

If Rainy Day has a manifesto, it is the great essay “Politics and the English Language”, which George Orwell wrote in 1946. The English language and politics are at the heart of this blog and while we cannot hope to match Orwell in any way, he is our style guide, mentor and patron saint. To […]

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Google ideas

Monday, 4 February, 2013 1 Comment

It’s time to get familiar with the name Jared Cohen. The 31-year old former US State Department hot shot founded and runs Google Ideas, the search engine’s think tank, and he’s co-written what may well be the most important book of 2013, The New Digital Age. The other name on the cover is that of Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt.

The New Digital Age will be strong on the dangers represented by the “illicit networks” run by Chinese and Russian cyber authoritarians. Quote:

“The increasing ubiquity of connection technologies will both empower those driving illicit networks as well as the citizens seeking to curb them. These networks have been around for centuries, but one thing has changed — the vast majority of people now have a mobile device, empowering citizens with the potential to disrupt the secrecy, discretion, and fear that allow illicit networks to persist. As illicit networks grow in scope and complexity, society’s strategy to reduce their negative impact must draw on the tremendous power of technology.”

Yes, Google is a hard-headed business, and it is determined to dominate the search industry, but the company is far more idealistic than its rivals and Schmidt and Cohen are to be applauded for their determination to defend the cause of democracy from its enemies. More about this on Wednesday here.


The persecution of Fazil Say

Saturday, 9 June, 2012

The internationally acclaimed Turkish classical pianist Fazil Say is to stand trial on charges of insulting Muslim religious values in comments posted on Twitter. If convicted, he could face a minimum of 18 months in prison. Say quoted a verse by the 11th-century Persian poet Omar Khayyam that ridiculed the hypocrisy of people who pretend […]

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No saying the unsayable in India and beyond

Friday, 3 February, 2012

Freedom of speech has changed from being a hallmark of democracy to a threat to society, at least in India, writes Kenan Malik in an essay titled To Name the Unnamable, which was prompted by the Muslim threats that prevented Salman Rushdiee from attending the recent Jaipur Literary Festival. Malik is particularly critical of the […]

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