Tag: Yeats

The Unintended Consequences of the GDPR

Thursday, 17 May, 2018

The blogger Yeats, as opposed to the poet Yeats, might say that the “rough beast” of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), “its hour come round at last,” slouches towards us to be born on 25 May. For Rainy Day, which runs on WordPress 4.9.5, this will have implications. Our hosting service, WP Engine, had this to say earlier today:

“With WordPress 4.9.6 coming this week, we will be seeing a few new features built around GDPR compliance. This release is different in that it is introducing new features in a Maintenance/Security update, and that it applies only to websites already running WordPress 4.9 and higher. While this is atypical of a release, it is important to include these new features because they provide an essential toolkit for handling GDPR compliance. We have weighed the risk in introducing these new features and since they are not manipulating or impacting existing WordPress features, we feel that this release is not only safe but also important in enabling you to make your site GDPR compliant.”

The Law of Unintended Consequences lays out three outcomes: Unexpected Benefit, Unexpected Drawback or Perverse Result. Which one the will the GDPR deliver? Well, the reality is that the EU can only enforce the GDPR against entities that do business in the EU. Any website hosted outside the EU doesn’t have to comply with the GDPR and the EU cannot compel China, say, to accept its notion of privacy. Companies that want to keep tracking users will either ban EU customers and visitors, or move outside the EU and do business elesewhere.

And, if a company’s servers are in the US and if it doesn’t have any EU assets, it can keep tracking EU visitors. Brussels can’t do anything about this because US courts are not going to uphold EU law against US citizens who have not broken US law. In other words, because the web is worldwide, one consequence of the GDPR will be the creation of a false sense of privacy.


Egypt: atrocity terrorism

Saturday, 25 November, 2017 0 Comments

The carnage in the Sinai yesterday elevated atrocity terrorism to a new plane. So far, the death toll from the mosque attack is 305 and it could go even higher.

We’ve become accustomed to Islamist terrorism since the begging of this century but we’re not anesthetized to it, yet. The savage spectacle of murder and maiming inflicted upon the innocent since 9/11 by these jackals continues to shock and it’s important for the leaders of civilized nations to grasp that Islamism is different to previous forms of terror. It is morphing into something that’s nihilistic and sadistic and totalitarian. Yesterday’s slaughter, on the eve of Advent, brings to mind those fearful lines of Yeats from The Second Coming: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

Atrocity terrorism out of Egypt heralds the arrival of a very modern monster with very ancient features, red in tooth and claw and a dragging in its wake a cruel dogma that’s drenched with the blood of innocents.


Easter, 1916 and 2016

Monday, 28 March, 2016 1 Comment

Five years after the poet William Butler Yeats had immortalized the Irish rebellion of 1916 with the phrase “A terrible beauty is born,” the brothers-in-arms of the Easter uprising were at each other’s throats in a merciless, ruinous Civil War. And every decade since, the island of Ireland has been traumatized by eruptions of a terror that robs and murders in the name of the 1916 rebels. Beauty fades, looks change, idealism decays.

How did the idealism of 1916 turn into barbarism and then into dogmatic nationalism of the most dreary, backward kind? In the London Review of Books, Irish writer Colm Tóibín explores the history of Easter 1916 in “After I am hanged my portrait will be interesting.” At the core of Tóibín’s article is the conundrum of the rebellion. Did the rebels intend to take power in Ireland by force of arms, or was the entire exercise a form of sacrifice in which a small group of idealists offered themselves up to inspire a larger number? “What happened on Easter Monday in Dublin is open to interpretation,” writes Tóibín. “As a military event, it makes almost no sense. Taking St Stephen’s Green, rather than Dublin Castle, suggests poor planning and lack of strategic thinking.” Indeed. Instead of capturing the city’s arsenal or barracks, the rebels occupied a post office, a bakery and a public park. This was revolution as performance art.

The historic blood donation of 1916 led to partial independence, but it legitimized the notion of Irish republican “martyrdom” and this malign concept has left a trail of death, division and distrust in its wake. The poet Yeats saw beauty in the idealism of Easter 1916, but he also noted the terrible nature of the fanatic heart. The subsequent ten decades of intermittent violence on the island of Ireland have proved him right, sadly.

Easter, 1916

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)


In the Garden

Saturday, 16 January, 2016 0 Comments

If you’re looking for a more down-to-earth alternative to the mystical verse of W.B. Yeats, the poetry of Thomas Hardy is recommended. This work is dedicated to the memory of “Her towards whom it made”. The garden, that is.

In the Garden

We waited for the sun
To break its cloudy prison
(For day was not yet done,
And night still unbegun)
Leaning by the dial.

After many a trial –
We all silent there –
It burst as new-arisen,
Throwing a shade to where
Time travelled at that minute.

Little saw we in it,
But this much I know,
Of lookers on that shade,
Her towards whom it made
Soonest had to go.

Thomas Hardy

The son of a stonemason, Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset on 2 June 1840. His novels, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895), which are considered classics today, received negative reviews on publication and Hardy was criticized for being preoccupied with sex. Some booksellers sold Jude the Obscure in brown paper bags, and the Bishop of Wakefield, Walsham How, is reputed to have burnt his copy. Distressed by this, Hardy turned to poetry. He died on 11 January 1928.

In the garden


She bid me take life easy

Saturday, 13 June, 2015 0 Comments

The repertoire of the Canadian musician Loreena McKennitt is Celtic to its core. For the 150th birthday of the poet W.B. Yeats, her rendition of Down by the Salley Gardens, with its meditations on love, life and the passing of time is most appropriate.

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.

William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)