We believe in the perfectibility of species. If given help.
(Except, given just over a century of experience, the greys, since they're unrepentant capitalist opportunists eating us out of house and home and they just won't listen.)
(And humans, probably, since they have shown a nasty atavistic tendency over the last few millennia.)
However, with guidance and the inculcation of the proper revolutionary attitudes, we believe there may still be hope for both of them. And at least in the case of the human species there will always be a large amount of nuts available.
Hasta la victoria siempre!
Avanti popolo! Alla riscossa! Bandiera rossa!
(Click on above to listen in solidarity with our Italian cousins to the rousing anthem.)

Was King Lear Gay?

We've been much taken by the furore over that piece by Ramin Seloodeh in Newsweek. You know, about the gay actor who apparently couldn't make much of a job at portraying a randy hetero guy trying to get a girl into bed.

What struck us as particularly silly was that this whole thing is patently a non-story. No-one in the USA, it appears, including the so-called 'theatre critic' who wrote it, seems to have grasped the notion of 'willing suspension of disbelief'.

If that actor wasn't very convincing to other randy male heterosexuals in the audience, it wasn't because he was gay, it was because he was a bad actor. Simple as that.

The other thing is that people have kept bringing Sir Ian McKellen into this. "If gays can't play heterosexuals, then we would never have had McKellen's King Lear." Well, that might not have been such a great loss; we've seen it in London, and we didn't think it was a very good production, however good McKellen was. Or, however titillating to some the sight of his dick might have been when he tore his clothes off in the mad scene.

However, we've been wondering. Who says King Lear wasn't gay? When you think about it, just look at his relationship with his daughters. That's pretty dysfunctional. And we never hear much of Mrs Lear. Typical, it would seem to us, of the closet gay who marries, procreates, but still can't quite come to terms with his sexuality even after the wife's gone and the kids have grown up.

And look at his relationship with Gloucester. Surely only a man in love would go through all that. And where one man is obviously attracted to another, there must be something reciprocal to hold that S&M relationship together, surely? Lear's sons-in law and daughters spotted it all right. And the idea gains strength because of course Lear is in denial about it until it's too late.

So, obviously, Sir Ian was peculiarly well-suited to playing Lear, since both are gay. Only he's a damn good actor, so we suspended our disbelief and it just didn't click at the time. We were conned.

(This idea is Squirrel copyright. If we discover some American PhD thesis on this later, we will sue. In the interests of full disclosure, the Squirrel Party spokeshuman knows about these things. Not only did he get a literature degree, he ran away from home to join a theatre once. So there.)

Election Time!

Oops. Not quite sure that came out just as it was supposed to. The LibDems were supposed to win some, not lose 'em.

Mark Mardell's America; last Squirrelpost

35. At 2:05pm on 12 Nov 2009, squirrellist wrote:

"Ambassador" Elkenberry is also ex-General Elkenberry, who promoted the kind of "afghanisation" people are writing about as an exit strategy when he was boss there for a couple of years back in 2002/3 and reiterated it in a public [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] memorandum (isn't this an odd thing for either a general or an ambassador to do?) six months ago. He has, obviously, a vested interest in seeing 'his' policy being seen to succeed, if not for his own reputation, for his memoirs.

The end strategies of both McChrystal and Elkenberry are not really that dissimilar in reality; but they appear to disagree about the numbers of non-Afghan troops to do it.

The history of this intervention seems to be littered with as many battles between Generals and ex-Generals as there have been with the Taleban. And it rather shows the folly of turning soldiers into diplomats.

I didn't pay too much attention to it, but I heard an interview with the NATO Sec Gen yesterday in which he appeared to be hinting that unless whatever comes out of this to-ing and fro-ing involves a much cleare notion of how some sort of viable society (jobs, education, health, functioning civil government that does not rely on armed miiltias, whether Taleban or other, subject to either whim or money) the other NATO countries are really no longer interested.

Of course, being a diplomat and not a General, he put it a little more diplomatically.

I also heard an interview with the Governor of Afghanistan's poorest province (and god knows that must be in dire straits) pleading for job creation, schools, clinics and hospitals. But he also said the US army had now withdrawn from the province (which borders the North West Territories, it's not some quiet patch where people can quietly settle down and grow apricots) and, though he didn't say it directly, left them with nothing. The result? An NGO also left; a young Afghani who lost his job with them and could find no other now commands a Taleban contingent which controls his village and its surrounding area.

That, in practical terms, doesn't sound much like the policies of either McChrystal or Elkenberry; so who on earth is deciding the overall political strategy for Afghanistan? Anybody?

(Or is the answer, after eight years, the Taleban again?)

This is dithering; I've though Obama is taking far too long to come to some decision over this, but I can see both US civil and military strategies and tactics are far from unified, and, apparently, are in a mess. So perhaps he should have had more than eight meetings about it.

He's soon off for another fortnight; more fine speeches. But fine words butter no parsnips, end no wars, shore up no civil societies, and I doubt in consequence if any members of his various audiences in the next fortnight are really going to be doing any more than listen politely, applaud, and wonder why he bothered to come. I, as many others around the world did, hoped for more. But the U-turn on Israeli settlements disillusioned many, not least the US's favourite Palestinian politician, and it's been taken as a harbinger of other abnegations of political and diplomatic responsibility or influence (but many suspect, again, not military) to come.

"Find your own way of getting out of the mess we've -- at least partially --created because we're bored now" is not a policy that reassures anyone in restless and troubled regions of the world.

(The URL deemed "unsuitable" by the BBC's outsourced moderation company Tempero, created by ex BBC staff via a revolving door at an opportune and subsequently advantageous time, was to this page on Politico.)

It seems I'm not quite alone. See the interview with David Kilcullen in Thursday's Guardian.

Firefox and Flash for Mac: Advice from MacSquirrel

Anybody experiencing trouble with video (YouTube, MySpace etc.) on their Macs, like the squirrels have (they've been very annoyed, and have been taking bites out of their mice in frustration) should download Adobe FlashPlayer 9 (Adobe site>"Other Operating Systems">Mac OSX 10.1-10.3") if you made the mistake of following Adobe's upgrade instruction and installed Flash Player 10. Despite appearances, Flash Player 9 works under OSX 10.4 Tiger, and probably with 10.5 Leopard as well.

Messsages like "This video needs a newer version of Flash Player" can be ignored. Just carry on regardless.

There are also problems with Firefox 3-3.5 which often simply refuses to quit at all without using "Force Quit", or fails to quit properly.

The best solution there is to download Firefox 2 (last version but beware: the download source you find through a Google search appears to have been hacked, and most, if not all, downloads are Russian. (And probably therefore contain malware or viruses. If you see an opening screen in Cyrillic, hit "Cancel" or restart your Mac right away. Do not install it. It is an absolute nightmare to get rid of it if you do.) It is no longer available directly from the Mozilla/Firefox official website. Thanks very much, Mozilla developers.

MacSquirrel will post a safe source here if he finds one.

If you have used Firefox3-3.5, or FlashPlayer 10, download the free trial of MacScan from here. (Once installed it will run for 30 days, which should be enough to clear your Mac of anything you don't want lingering hidden in its operating system.)

Squirrels call for Woody Allen Boycott!

Woody Allen's filming in London near Squirrelist's flat again. We asked if they wanted any squirrels as extras, and they said 'No'. Muttered something about nuts.

So we sneaked into the catering van and stole all all their packets of peanuts. (The chili ones tasted awful: we gave those to the Greys.)

Squirrelist says he never liked Woody Allen anyway. All that boring angst. Anyway, he says it's called "Untitled Project" and that's an incredibly boring name for a film.


We have just discovered to our uttermost horror that the utterly loathsome BNP has published a piece on its website purportedly supporting Red Squirrels. We of course disavow and repudiate any offer of aid from that foul bunch of fascists.


In preparing our (re)education library (to be located at Gospel Oak, which will be renamed Red Squirrel Oak when the revolution comes) we have found an unfortunate lacuna in our knowledge. 

We have been unable to find direct references to squirrels in the works of our glorious predecessors Marx, Engels, Trotsky, Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg and Gramsci.

We are reluctant to believe that these great theorists could have omitted to mention us, so if readers could help with sourcing quotations we would be very grateful.

(That's Karl Marx, not Groucho. We know his jokes, and they are already in The Grey Squirrel Joke Book, in preparation and soon to be available from all good left-leaning oak trees. Price: one of those really big bars of Cadbury's Whole Nut chocolate. Not one of those piddling little 49g things, you know, the huge one that's nearly as big as us.)


Orphan squirrel available for adoption.

Tree trained, very friendly. Gets on well with other animals, especially cats, donkeys and goats. (But nervous of vampires.) Cheap to feed, has been known to exist only on Cadbury's Dairy Milk Whole Nut for days and days. Happy to live abroad as long as it's warm.