I didn’t know I was a “conservative” until my columns began appearing on Townhall. I just thought I was smart, amusing, clever, witty, endowed with a vast reservoir of common sense and right about most things. Just like all the other people whose columns appear on Townhall and whose company I treasure, if only virtually. Then I started getting hundreds of emails from regular visitors to Townhall extolling my conservative virtues. And I was glad.
Come live with mee, and bee my love,
And wee will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and christall brookes,
With silken lines, and silver hookes.
There will the river whispering runne
Warm'd by thy eyes, more than the Sunne.
And there the'inamor'd fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.
When thou wilt swimme in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channell hath,
Will amorously to thee swimme,
Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.
If thou, to be so seene, beest loath,
By Sunne, or Moone, thou darknest both,
And if my selfe have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee.
Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legges, with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poore fish beset,
With strangling snare, or windowie net:
Let coarse bold hands, from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest,
Or curious traitors, sleavesilke flies
Bewitch poore fishes wandring eyes.
For thee, thou needst no such deceit,
For thou thy selfe art thine owne bait;
That fish, that is not catch'd thereby,
Alas, is wiser farre than I.
Pleasant little ditty isn't it? Of course it would have been so much better if the author had checked his spelling with the help of a good dictionary or even the MS Word spell-checker. There's really no excuse for this sort of thing you know.
Zeppo Bakunin dropped round last Thursday, with a credit note from one of our local second hand book-shops. It was the proceeds from a box of books I passed on to him a few months ago, after I did a fairly radical purge of my bookshelves. A lot of stuff went, especially all those old science fiction books that I'd been keeping around because they might provide an interesting re-read one day. Experience shows that when that one day does eventually arrives you find yourself bored shitless by the wooden characterisation. Especially if it's one of those "hard" SF novels with an edifying science lesson in every chapter.
I cashed part of the voucher in on Friday, and came away with a copy of Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male, which I'm reading at the moment. I also found a copy of C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength, the third of his "Dr Ransom trilogy".I read the first two - Out of the Silent Planet and Voyage to Venus - a long time ago, and decided that it was time to finish the series.
The Ransom trilogy is a good deal racier than Lewis' Narnia chronicles; in Out of the Silent Planet and Voyage to Venus Lewis' hero, Dr Ransom, spends a lot of time wandering around in the nude. Of course it's good clean Anglican nudity, with nothing salacious about it.
That Hideous Strength promises to be a lot racier, if this passage from the first page of chapter 1 is anything to go by:
... He was an excellent sleeper. Only one thing ever seemed able to keep him awake after he had gone to bed, and even that did not keep him awake for long.
The proprietor of the bookshop is a friendly bloke, if a little bookish, and said he would give me first chance at any of the works of Sax Rohmer that come into his shop. He's also promised to keep an eye open for W E Johns' little known Biggles in Bondage which I've wanted to get a hold of for quite some time.
Want to design a baby or take a peek into your genetic future? Customers at a store in Bremen were more than willing to do so, and hardly anyone questioned the company's ethics, much to the dismay of the organizers.
Nestled inconspicuously between boutiques and snackbars in downtown Bremen is a new store called "chromosoma." The shop with its ultra-cool interior opened just recently and promises to offer its customers something they won't get at a run-of-the-mill department store, namely, the possibility for a complete genetic make-over.
Curious passers-by who venture inside the shop can explore a range of six products and services such as "book-a-baby," which allows women to choose precisely when they wish to start a pregnancy, as well as selecting their baby's genetic traits, and "re-set," which offers customers the opportunity to store their genetic information with a view to human cloning. The store also provides a service it calls "gen-ex," which destroys human genetic footprints - the skin particles, hair and saliva that contain someone's entire genetic code. The product is designed to prevent involuntary assessment and storage of genetic material - information which could conceivably be misused by employers and insurance companies, for example.
Sound a little dubious or ethically questionable to offer genetic designing to the paying public? Well, that's the point of the world's first DNA store.
Chromosoma is in fact not a shop at all, but rather a "field-study" project organized by the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, or Federal Center for Political Education, in the run-up to its congress on genetic research from 15 - 17 September in Bremen.
The article goes on to note that:
So far the reality is a far cry from the type of products outlined in the chromosoma catalogue. For now, many of the products displayed in the Bremen store clash with current legislation, such as stringent embryo protection laws.
Read the rest of the report and you get some indication of why the organisers of "chromosoma" were a little dismayed by its public reception. Still that hasn't stopped Byron Scott at Slings and Arrows from concluding that the whole thing is, in its own sinister way, typically German:
... they couldn't do it by killing off the un-wanted elements of their society, so those perfectionist Germans are now well on their way to marketing designer genetics - and the people are eating it up
It's possible that some of the good burghers of Bremen who visited "chromosoma" might feel a little disgruntled at having been taken in by yet another bunch of ratbag leftie social researchers. Especially any of the women who might have been interested in designer babies. Perhaps Bremen will be the city where the US' Repository for Germinal Choice sets up its first overseas franchise; it looks like there's at least one corner of Germany where they'll find a ready market for their services.
Update (Cheap Shot Draws Return Fire): Thanks to John Ray (and Heinz in the comments thread) for bring the mispelling of "boche" to my attention. Obviously I should have been a little more attentive when I was reading W E Johns as a boy. No comment from either on the substantive issue in this post: that Bremen's chromosoma was a hoax (however well-intentioned), while the Repository for Germinal Choice is all too real.