Saturday, December 25, 2004

Forgery, part one 

The soon to retire US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has a quotation from the Greek philosopher, Thucydides (471-400 BC), sealed into the glass covering of his desk. It reads: 'Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men most'. It's a telling phrase, emphasising Powell's philosophical distance from the rest of the warmongering administration to which he belongs. If you google it, you'll find numerous references to the quotation. Evidently Powell first used it in a 1993 speech to mark his retirement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But where did Thucydides say it? According to a recent issue of the Times Literary Supplement, he didn't. Shifra Sharlin, an American academic, has spent years trying to track the quotation down. She's failed. Powell has never responded to her queries. The quotation is now all over the web, in numerous books, articles and, doubtless, dictionaries of quotations. It's Thucydides' most famous sentence. Every time he sits at his desk, Powell is faced with a dictum that sums up his own philosophy. Only the quotation is a lie, a deliberate forgery of Powell's own making. What does that say about Powell? And what would Thucydides have had to say about that?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Best Of Year CD 

Every year we make a CD (until the turn of the century, a C90 or C100 tape) with a selection of our (OK, mostly my) favourite music released during the previous year. This year, having got a CD burner on my new iMac, I've done twice as many as previously. Until this year, I had to copy in real time, so making 15 copies took the best part of a week. Now I can make a copy in four minutes using Toast or i-Tunes. As I write, thirty copies have been posted, given away or put aside to be given away, and there's one copy going spare. So the first reader to email me via this site with their address will receive the final copy in the post. Here's what's on it.

1 Panther Dash 2.43 The Go! Team
2 These Words 3:36 Natasha Bedingfield
3 Nearer Than Heaven 3:28 The Delays
4 Deja Vu (All Over Again) 4:13 John Fogerty
5 The Ascent Of Man 4:07 R.E.M.
6 Whatever Happened to Corey Haim 3:34 The Thrills
7 Inspector Blanchflower (edit) 5:53 The Fiery Furnaces
8 Laura 3:36 Scissor Sisters
9 The Saga 1.53 The Libertines
10 Lost In The Plot 4.48 The Dears
11 Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes 5.16 Beck
12 Wishful Thinking 3:52 Wilco
13 Shame 2:33 PJ Harvey
14 Fuck It 3:48 Eamon
15 I'm Not Sorry 4:41 Morrissey
16 Departure Bay 5:34 Diana Krall
17 The Judgement 3:59 Elvis Costello & The Imposters
18 A Fond Farewell 3:57 Elliott Smith
19 There She Goes, My Beautiful World 5:18 Nick Cave
20 I Am A Cinematographer 2:49 Bonnie "Prince" Billy

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