Friday, 19 October 2012

Anyone for a Conspiracy Theory?


Monday, 30 November 2009

Intel. A chip off the old Bloc

My handler told me: no names. My post, the first 'intelligence blog' to appear on the web - to the best of my knowledge - won't mention pseudonyms, cover-names, pet-names, pen-names or code names. I told 'Z' - not my handler's real "code-name", simply a smokescreen - that I'm more interested in what people do than what they’re called. And 'Z' told me, I can't mention what they do either.

So anyway, what is it we get up to in our 'community'? Though of course I can't tell you the precise details, I can hint: We follow people. We follow you. We follow you, just as you follow us. Yes, we know you follow us. How do we know you follow us? Because we see you every day, scanning, searching, logging on to certain sites – I’m not talking just intelligence websites, but also affiliates sites (intelligence or other). We know how you think. We even know how you will think before you think. How so? Yes, how so?.

It’s what you people refer to as 'conspiracy theory'.

Right now the intelligence community is concerned the conspiracy theories we know and love are losing traction, they're out of control. Why's that? What do I mean by "out of control"? I'll phrase it in a way that's not what you’d call prosaic, not literal: But what I mean (if you'll allow me to mean something) is, too many conspiracy theories spoil the broth. And I hear you say, literal? Prosaic? What this guy's just given us is a mixed metaphor - pure and simple.

Perhaps. But it is a mixed metaphor that I wanted to deploy for quite some time. And why? Because I know it'll distract you, just for one moment, from what I'm leading on to. Have you got that? Probably not... but then again, you might've just about got it, I think, and you might be afraid... if you happen to be that person whose IP address (starting 134.135...) vanished from my monitor just 0.93 seconds ago! Don't worry, we can follow your IP, even after its vanished!

Anyway, so here we go: We invented conspiracy theories and we invented them to make you afraid. You don't realise this, you probably cannot accept it right now, and you probably never will. But it's true. We always wanted you to think that nothing - no thing - controversial happens unless a powerful organisation makes it happen... Unless a covert governmental agency, or a foreign terrorist cell, planned it that way. And you've always bought that notion. But one day, my friends, you ran too far with that notion, these theories, and you made them your own, your own theories. Now that cannot be right, can it? They are not your theories, they're ours. We created them. So hey guys, could you please just give us back our darned theories? (Okay - that's somewhat tongue in cheek, in case you didn't capiche.)

Or... don't you guys just f- get it? You see, if you can get all your heads round 'information overload', why can't you get them round 'conspiracy overload'? Who the hell will believe these conspiracies any more if, for every famous death, there are ten thousand theories? Next year, there will be a hundred thousand theories for some guy who's one tenth as big. And maybe, one day, there’ll be millions for just your average John Doe. No one will believe these theories any more. They'll be meaningless. And where's the point in that?

So, cool your jets, boys and girls. Cut the theories. If you want anyone to believe in anything ever again, then stop dicking around with all this, 'my belief's as good as the next guy's' shit. Some things are true and some things are not - except when we, and only we, insinuate that they are. And if you keep on spreading too many of your own goddam theories, then maybe we'll find who you are, we'll track your IP addresses, because we’re starting to think that the only reason you'd possibly want people to stop believing in our theories (by spreading so many of your own) is because you are the enemy. The real enemy. The enemy of a community that does theories good and proper.

See, that's the point: The silicon chip, the internet, the web, they were never meant to be about democratizing things like knowledge and truth - or conspiracy theories for that matter. And that's because it's no longer a case these days of, ye shall know truth and the truth shall set ye free. It's, ye shall know what you need to know, and technology can set you free. But first you have to learn how to use technology. And that, as we all know, is a discipline. Right, disciples? Right.

Think about that. We do. We think about it. Every day.

And ask yourself one last question - assuming you've read thus far: What did I mean earlier when I talked about my handler? Maybe, just maybe, I'm the handler, not the handled? And how do you know that anyone ever really told me what I could or couldn't say? After all, I've said quite a lot, have I not? But you'll have to answer that one yourselves, guys.

Yours abidingly and faithfully, Colonel Kurtz (And if you want to believe that's my real name then be my guest. In actual fact, it really is. Yep. Francis F. (the other Francis F.) stole it from me, not the other way round!

PS. A friend of mine tells me this: Next year, a butterfly will flap its wings in the Brazilian rain forest and there’ll be a million theories as to why it did so. But, in reality there's only one theory that's correct, guys. Only one. Think about it.

(On this occasion our 'intelligence blogger' very kindly agreed to provide us with his real name on account of the fact that the "trademark" on it had expired. However we are not convinced that it really is out of trademark and are therefore witholding it)

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Everybody needs good bankers...

From the archive:-

These days Select Committee hearings focus mainly on policing and the behaviour of the tabloid press (the televised ones do, at least.) But not that long ago it was bankers who were in the spotlight.

On one occasion back in early 2010, the boss of RBS, Stephen Hester, tried to laugh off his exorbitant pay packet. Here's how this blog viewed his performance back then. (How times have changed...):-

MONDAY, 11 JANUARY 2010 - "10 million pound RBS Boss: Even my parents think I'm a greedy bastard."

RBS boss Stephen Hester gave evidence to the Treasury select committee yesterday afternoon. This is the "transcript" of that evidence.

John McFall, MP: May I ask, what do your parents think of you, Mr Hester?

Hester: They think I'm a greedy bastard.

(Roars of laughter in the committee room)

McFall(Wiping tears from his eyes) Very good, Mr Hester. If I may say, that is an excellent joke. And one that I would expect from someone of your great stature. Now moving on, what does your wife think of you?

Hester: She thinks I'm a greedy bastard, but she likes the new kitchen.

(Derision throughout the chamber. Sound of MPs and journalists falling off their chairs)

McFall: You're in the wrong job, Mr Hester. You're a regular comedian, are you not? Were I head of light entertainment at the BBC I would pay you at least twenty million.

Hester: Indeed you would Mr McFall. Indeed you would.

(More laughter and derision.)

McFall(Fighting to hold back the tears) Too much, too much, Mr Hester... Now, Mr H. What do your children think of you? And please, please take your time. I haven't yet wiped away all of those tears that your last joke caused.

Hester: What do my children think? Well, Tom loved the Porsche. Tallulah adored the new pony and paddock, whilst Ed thinks I'm God after I bought him the recording studio.

(The chamber descends into chaos)

McFall: I have never come across such flair, such elegant wit. I am lucky to be here at this moment in time. Indeed, very lucky. Now, Mr Hester, what do your neighbours make of you?

Hester: My neighbours think I'm a greedy bastard. That's because they are envious. They tell people in our local village that I am a tosser. But they have to be nice to my face. You see, each year my family throws the most lavish summer ball in the county. If neighbours Ron and Val don't show due deference whenever they are in my company then they will find themselves very much uninvited. So, Ron and Val... who are the tossers now, eh? Eh?

(Howls of laughter around the chamber)

McFall(Trying to compose himself) We are witnessing pure genius. None could ever possibly question your salary, however high it might be, Mr Hester. You are indeed a man who is not simply rich in monetary terms, but also in terms of your character, your spirit and your charming humour. Now, Mr Hester. One final question: What does the taxpayer think of you, do you reckon?

Hester: The taxpayer? Who gives a fuck about them?

Monday, 30 January 2012

Look at the size of my bonus? Not half!

A leading international banker writes:

"Hello. Over recent weeks, there has been much huffing and puffing over the thorny issue of bankers and their huge bonuses. And I'm bound to say that it is, for the most part, stuff and nonsense. The world financial system is in turmoil right now and I would simply like to ask  you this: Who do you reckon's going sort out this infernal mess? Politicians? Mandarins? Technocrats? Not bloody likely! What do they know about the complexities of financial systems??

"Let me offer you an analogy that might explain the predicament we're currently facing:-

"Just imagine for one moment, if you will, that you have decided to take your family on a bit of an adventure holiday this year. You possess a state-of-the-art 4x4 and you fancy going on a trek, venturing out to some sparsely populated region of, say, Eastern Europe or Asia.

"Of course, your family members are not quite as gung-ho as you and are concerned that the region you've chosen is not somewhere you'd want to break down.

"You re-assure them that your 4x4 is too big, expensive and technologically sound to fail. You tell them that these 'mommas' just do not break down. And anyway, even if you do encounter minor difficulties, your Premium Insurance Plan will pick you up from anywhere in the world and get you to the nearest registered dealer - however far away that may be.

"So, off you go, exploring the more unspoilt regions of Eastern Europe, encountering no problems whatsoever, until, on day six of your trip, you discover that a problem with the automatic clutch transmission is creating a strange clunking sound whenever you pull away from junctions (assuming they have any junctions in this God-forsaken part of the world!)

"But it isn't a problem. You can still drive the damn thing and eventually you make your way to some fellow claiming to be a registered dealer in the nearest town one hundred and fifty miles away. He says that he knows what the problem is and can sort it out if you leave the car with him overnight. You check into the local five star hotel (assuming there is one) on the assumption everything will be okay by morning.

"But when you return, what do you find? The idiot has somehow blown up the engine and it is going to cost you a fortune to have it fixed. You expect him to do the job for free since he caused it, but he refuses. He says it was "circumstances beyond my control, Sir". What are you going to do, drive it away to the next town? You can't, it's buggered. Have it towed away to the next town, only to find some other goon who will charge you even more, and who might create even greater havoc?

"You get onto the insurance company and they tell you that since the car is already at a registered dealer there is nothing more they can do. You'll have to use this guy or fork out for the car to be towed to the next town, to the next overpriced goon.

"So you stick with the devil you know. You tell the mechanic to go ahead. You're stuck in this hell-hole for two weeks, whilst he ships in the parts and drafts in the (monumentally overpriced) labour to help sort the job out. You end up paying ten times what he quoted and you probably won't be able claim it all on insurance.

"But what else could you do? He was a registered dealer at least. He ordered the right parts and managed to get your car back on the road (eventually). There was no-one else qualified to do the job (apart from the idiot in the nearest town two hundred miles away).

"But hey, look on the bright side. At least you're motoring again!

"So anyway, where was I?

"Yes, what I was going to say is that we bankers, we're a bit like that car dealer /mechanic in my analogy (or the dealer in the next town or in the town beyond that.) We might have caused the problem in the first place. We might charge an arm and a leg to sort out the problem. You might feel that we've got you over a barrel.

"But - and this is a big but - who the hell else do you think is going to get you back on the road?"