Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Squaring the Circle.

Can it really be beyond the compass of the human mind to at least regulate this constant cycle of conflict in the Middle East? Well, maybe it is - but here's a suggestion for closure where the expenditure involved would seem to comprise mainly that of a few brain cells, a commodity we all have in plentiful supply.

This is a dry, almost antiseptic solution, perhaps a bit 'clinical' in its approach to the subject. It's a formula-driven method which, somewhat perversely, derives an unexpected synergy from the very problem it seeks to address. Worked out by a German I met many years ago in Nurnburg. Very Germanic therefore, very direct - and, in its own fashion, arguably much more effective than many peace proposals floated in the past, proposals which have now long since sunk without trace.

Monitor events in the region, sample and evaluate those incidents involving violence and/or intolerance, even the quite minor ones. Place on record that which occurs and make a determination/estimation as to whether this side or that is deemed responsible. For instance, something happens; it was violent; it seemed deliberate; people were hurt; property was damaged - so on and so forth. This was judged at the time to be Israeli in origin - or it was Palestinian inspired. Can include a default option too - 'perpetrated by person or persons unknown' - if circumstances so dictate. Collate all this information and await the next sequence of bombs, bullets, whatever, that happens along. Do likewise with these and continue monitoring.

At some stage - a time limit, a points cut-off - the sampling process terminates and one of the entries thus catalogued is then randomly selected. Penalise the offending party here by conferring full ownership and title of some nominal area of land on its opposite number. One square kilometre should more than suffice, the transfer of which is formally recognised by the rest of the world - also acting as guarantor - even if only in the moral and legal sense. One of the much maligned UN resolutions perhaps?

The sampling process then re-engages and, assuming the violence continues unabated, a further parcel of land is thereby delineated and assigned to whoever. The area this covers would then be some 2 sq. km. Subsequent infractions might trigger another penalty; 4 sq. km. After that, it's 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 sq. km. . . . . . . . A natural progression; soon ramps up to some very serious real estate indeed.

The dynamic of the whole situation now changes markedly. Israelis, through violence and the like, would be seen to be promoting, even ratifying the Palestinian cause while, similarly, Palestinians might well be perceived as carrying forward and cementing the dream of a permanent Jewish homeland; prospects guaranteed to give even the most militant in either camp considerable pause for thought. 'He brought home the other sides' bacon for them' - quite possibly the least coveted obituary of martyr, soldier and politician alike. Very salutary though if a permanent end to these hostilities is ever to emerge from the present fog of contention.

Now, back there in Nurnburg, I felt that, as a theory, the concept had some small merit but little practical value. And I said as much to my German companion, detailing what I felt to be major obstacles in its path.

1. Too biased. The Israelis might go for it - the novelty alone makes it an idea worth exploring. Not so the Palestinians - and with some justification. Yes, this might lock down the violence - and appreciably so - but to what end? To preserve the status quo? To stifle any movement towards change or progress? Not entirely a welcome outcome where Palestinian interests are concerned.

The answer, apparently, is to acknowledge the objection and offer to take the system 'off-line' for one or two months. In that time slot, the whole question might readily be referred back to the field of battle - if calmer counsels have not prevailed in the interval.

2. Too easily sabotaged. Disaffected elements in both groups could easily overload the process, manufacturing spurious claims and stage-managing acts of violence. A futile endeavour therefore and not worth the effort.

Any halfway decent sampling technique should be more than adequate to discourage such activities. Those seeking to choreograph events could find their efforts ineffective, or worse still, counterproductive.

3. Wouldn't it be imperative to obtain at least tacit approval from both principals in this matter? Given the long-standing enmity between them, acceptance of so radical a departure from familiar norms and customs of warfare seems doubtful in the extreme.

Curiously enough, agreement on the issue need not be a mandatory requirement here. In fact, both parties could initially ignore the whole procedure and continue on much as before. However, there comes a time when the areas of land so designated must reach something of a critical mass. At such a point, one side or the other might very well decide to go with what's on offer. Holding such clear and universal title to any major tract of this much disputed territory might prove progressively more and more difficult to resist. Thereafter, further violence becomes increasingly untenable. Fighting against a conventional enemy is all very well - but when that enemy is also a mathematical construct, the numbers themselves soon begin to outweigh all other considerations.

4. But who could - or should - debate, decide, pronounce on changes of such profound significance? Who would accept the awesome responsibility entailed in decisions of this magnitude?

We are all, it seems, as ever, still our brother's keeper. It must fall to us, the world community - or representatives thereof - to perform the deed. And, with such godlike powers theirs to command, the expectation is that there would be no great shortage of volunteers.

Now whether all this has any relevance as to our view of the Middle East today is, of course, debatable. But it would be well to note that, in our various dealings with the Angel of Death, any increase in our choices here must certainly be welcomed. A template capable of ending once and for all, not just this business but also others of an equally intractable nature, would go a long way towards making some sense out of all that's happened - even if only as an intellectual exercise.

And if, for some reason, it didn't work out, some unforeseen flaw in the design perhaps, well then, we could at least console ourselves with the knowledge that, in the final analysis, ..... we can always blame the Germans!

John Yorke


Anonymous said...

hello Mr.Yorke,

I think the principle you demonstrate might be better utilised if more than a single point of origin were chosen as the starting position. You will get problems with 'contiguity' if only one is selected. Otherwise it's a nicely crafted approach and one which, as you say, could be applied to several other conflicts around the world.

It's possible that the universal language of mathematics/geometry could speak for us all and have greater impact and clarity than so much of the diplomatic speech we normally associate with these matters.

So, roll on the pan-global peace process. It could be very interesting, not to mention entertaining.


James Whitworth,


John Yorke said...

Hi James,

Thanks for the input.

I've been unwell for a while so am only now getting back on line.

Your point is well made and I will try to reconfigure the maps items as you suggest.

Warm regards,

John Yorke

Anonymous said...

And what of the people living on the land their side has 'lost'? Are they to face ethnic cleansing - a collective punishment because of the actions of a minority on their side? Isn't that how this conflict started in the first place?

It isn't just about land; it's about rights to live on land, even if controlled by others: something which, under a stable, open-borders power like the E.U. would not be a problem. But is very much a problem now.

LeaNder said...

Hello John,

isn't it strange that even the 1984 scenario, that is the paranoia paradigm per se, could be used to such positive ends?

You are an artist John, welcome in the club. As Beuys said, everbody is an artist. He does not need "to start a second career as an oil painter" or fight for whatever tiny spot on the stage, all s/he needs to realize are the basic principles.

Thanks for alerting me to this. That is something I have been wondering all along, why aren't there more unconventional ideas in the field.

I like especially the idea of even giving attention to minor incidences ...

And we Germans are used to carrying much bigger loads so being blamed for this, if it fails, would be a minor problem. ;-)

It was a pleasure to meet you!

Barbara J. Sibold

Anonymous said...


You know if this one ever gets going then it's a snowball down the montainside and you can write your own ticket for the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm guessing several tickets here.

Good luck, hope it works out.


I like it that we get to blame the germans if it all falls apart.

John Yorke said...

Hello Anonymous,

I hope you get the opportunity to view this reply to your post. I must apologise for the delay. Being new to the world of 'blogging', I'm still feeling my way around here and I've only just now come across your comments.

While it is true some loss of land is envisaged in this concept, that 'loss' will be relatively small compared to many previous rearrangements, rearrangements which have yet to yield any tangible peace dividend.

Essentially, it's not so much about a redistribution of land but rather a way to allow the majorities on both sides to take issue with the violence, to search out alternative paths to resolve the situation.

And that can't be done with the din of battle continuously striking up in the background.

'Rights to live on land' is important but the right to live must take priority over even this.

Thank you for your post. Again, sorry about the delay in replying.


John Yorke said...

Hello Barbara,

Again apologies are necessary for my failure to respond earlier to your post.

Your comments are most welcome and I thank you for them. I really think it's high time we all began to focus more closely on the primary problem presented by conflict in the Middle east. It has so many other repercussions and a solution, any solution, is well overdue. Both for those immediately involved and the rest of us who can only observe and sometimes despair of the depths to which our fellow man can sink.

I often wonder if it's all part of some cosmic test designed to see if we can surmount the contradictions inherent in its construction. If it is, then we had better start thinking well outside the box.

And is that just what we're doing here? And will something like this provide us with the answer?

Maybe it will. In the end, it may be the only answer we have left.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

Hello Martha,

Thanks. I do like your analogy and, as for the NPP, I wouldn't say no but, of course, I'd have to share it with my old friend Willy Conrad. As to where I might find him now, I couldn't exactly say. It's been quite some time since our last meeting. However, I often find myself pleasantly surprised that his ideas still apply, seemingly as well today as they did all those years ago.

Thank you for your good wishes.



LeaNder said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John Yorke said...

Hi Barbara (or should it be Leander?),

Thanks for your comments. I will try to check out Daniel Pipes and his views on the subject.

In answer to your question, I would invoke the principle of Occam's razor. This holds that it's better to avoid additional factors when contemplating any new enterprise or hypothesis. Keep it simple. Keep it clear.

As to the random element, this must stay. Indeed, the whole concept hinges upon it. Let's not be too concerned about including randomness or risk in these matters. The peoples of the Middle East are very familiar with risk. Its practise and its consequences are well known to them. They have to live with it every day. If they can sense that a little more risk-taking must be of great and immediate benefit to them, they may very well jump at the chance.

What this concept seeks is, perhaps, a variant of the fabled 'two-state solution' so recently embraced by commentators and Middle East pundits alike. But with one major difference. The traditional two-state solution will take time, subject as it is to so much haggling and compromise. Maybe too much time.

Here, however, the whole world can wade into the conflict without any compunction whatsoever and without accusations of bias, partisanship or preference. What matters in this instance is how it all adds up, how the mathematics speaks to the situation. In the end, this remains the one truly universal language of mankind.

And if there are complaints and objections, then so be it. The world can reasonably claim that these should be addressed to those individuals and groups involved in the first place. The solution thereby retains its potency; it fulfils its primary function; no need of unnecessary adjustments.

Remember, Barbara, sharing this world has never been one of humankind's defining attributes; the territorial imperative has usually won out in most cases. Adopting this particular procedure, however, may be our one chance to change all that.

One day the opportunity to take this option, to run this risk, may present itself. Let's hope by then it's not too late to do so.

LeaNder said...

"As to the random element, this must stay."

Yes, I can see it clearly now. Any complication would kill the design. You are a very wise man John.

Names: Feel free, to use whatever you like.

But seriously: Don't bother about checking on Daniel Pipes site. it was one of the rare voices there. I could imagine it has gotten much worse. And if anybody can trace it, than me. I may check, simply to check my memory.

If you want to really turn even more melancholic watch this, especially watch the storms of applause from the audience.

Brook used Occam's razor too. Americans do not like to loose, so you offer them VICTORY. Standing ovation. And then you fit it carefully - always keeping it simple - into a Randian dress: "You have to be willing, morally willing." Applause, people rising from the stools. Another standing ovation.

And all this is presented by softly spoken intellectuals. Carefully dressed, hair well cut, clean-shaven, French aftershave. The US is the biggest military in the world, it MUST bomb these Islamofacists into the appropriate behavior. That is the only language they understand.

We only need to be willing, "morally" willing.

Daniel Pipes, Yaron Brook, and other strategic assets.

That was on my mind yesterday.

But better go somewhere else, you sound a bit melancholic today. Check out James Wolcott's blog with his wonderful dose of today's anger.

Take care

Kraut de Cologne
LeaNder "No" Leader

LeaNder said...

John, it's really easy to find, after I gave up relying on my memory.

Game Theory Approach

I would like to suggest an alternative, based on Game Theory.

Announce that each new attack on Israelis by Palestinians will result in a loss of land that could be considered for a potential Palestinian state.

Determine the maximum and minimum potential borders of a potential Palestinian state.

Each time there is a terrorist attack - the Palestinians will lose some percentage - say, 10%, of the potential land that could be considered for a potential future Palestinian state.

With a little help of:

I definitely prefer your/your friends suggestion.

Do me a favor, will you? The first of my last mails was an accident. It wasn't meant to be sent. I did not even realize it was. If you can please delete it.

Nice day in good, old England.

John Yorke said...

Hi Barbara,

Thanks for your concern.

Thursday was an unusual day for me.

My middle child, my son Thomas, was to be on a plane later that day, travelling from London to New Delhi, the longest journey in all of his 20 years. Just 20; his birthday was on Wednesday. This was also his first trip abroad by himself. So there were some tensions surfacing in my mind although normally I like to think of myself as a fairly laid-back individual. Rumour has it that you tend to live longer that way.

That morning, just before my post to you, I was trying to repair one of our brand-new machines which had developed a minor but persistent fault. Other engineers had looked into the problem and a considerable amount of servicing time and one very expensive spare part had been lavished upon the unit. It had been thought that replacing this particular item had worked its magic and the machine was now fully functional. Not so, the symptoms had returned and hence my visit on Thursday.

In the end, I finally discovered that there was nothing wrong with the equipment. The fault was caused by a minor programming error during installation. One part of the machine was slightly mismatched, not fully recognising its counterpart. Resetting two small switches solved the matter immediately. Unfortunately, not being familiar with this new system, it took me quite some time to locate these little components. At one stage, I almost gave up trying even though the circuit diagrams clearly indicated their location and importance.

Maybe it's just how my mind works but I thought I saw in this a parallel with the Israeli-Palestinian question. Neither side entirely appreciates or understands the other but, for the sake of peace, both must, in time, be prepared to function as if they do. It could be that a simple piece of reprogramming provides the answer here? Do you see, Barbara, where I'm coming from on this? I hope it's not too obscure an analogy.

Anyway, I did not hear from my son on Friday although he was expected to sent an e-mail confirming his safe arrival. In some desperation I used my battered old mobile phone to call him, never really expecting it to link with his across such a vast distance. Imagine my surprise when I got through to him almost immediately. He's fine, no problems and is looking forward to the rest of his stay in india (10 weeks!)

And that started me on another train of thought. But I will keep that for another time.…

Be well, live long and prosper. (Sorry, Star Trek got to me in my formative years!)


P S: I haven't got around to checking out those blogs you indicated but I may be able to do so later today (Saturday).

LeaNder said...

The Zeitgeist of Suspicion:

First thank you! As I see, you deleted a note I sent by mistake in a preliminary state as I asked you and it has disappeared without a trace. Again ,thank you very much for that.

What makes me wonder though is, why did you delete an earlier one too? This leaves your answer dangling in the air, and additionally suggests, that something I wrote had to be deleted or censured.

I have to take a closer look at your response and what might be suggested concerning my the deleted note - kind of between the lines.

The highest recognition concerning your job. My brother works in this field too. Its easy to imagine what a high level of stress this means. Much depends on the machine running, and when you get there you encounter a “state of exception” that may well be the most difficult part of your job and occasionally more difficult to deal with than finding whatever causes trouble in the specific case.

But I would like to end with a strictly technical question: Can it be that the source code changes from preview to final posting stage? Admittedly I am in a state of wonder what symbols or tags can or can’t be used on each specific blog, so I checked via preview carefully. But then only the second link appeared underlined, as it should be. Now the whole last part of that mail down to the last word is linked?

Well in case this all serves to suggest that I:

a) have to be censured occasionally and
b) furthermore should be considered an ignorant nitwit.

I am.

I say - promising to shut up now - all the best to your son, your wife and of cause YOU this time choosing

Johanna, aka Kraut de Cologne

John Yorke said...

Hi Johanna,

Thanks for your post.

I was kind of hoping you hadn't noticed my deletion of that other post. The reason is quite simple and, perhaps, reflects my state of mind at the time.

In trying to cancel the post you requested I managed to cancel that one as well. Mea culpa. I tried for quite some time to retrieve it but to no avail; the 'blogger' set-up seems very unforgiving if you make this type of mistake.

So, if you still have that post somewhere on your computer, please send again and I will reinstate it - once I've figured out how to do that. You are correct about the post that follows; it does now 'dangle' there a bit, doesn't it.

The 'Games Theory' suggestion I found very interesting. It resembles my own outlook on the matter to some extent although I found their technique too one-sided to be really viable. Anyway, I managed to post that opinion and also a link to 'The Towers of Yorke.' Maybe we can expect some comment in due course.

How is Cologne these days? My last memory of it was not so pleasant. I remember getting a ticket from a policeman when I made a wrong turn near the city centre. Had to pay him 20 Marks as I recall - yes, it was that long ago.

I hope my mistake with your post will not be as expensive for me as that was!

Many thanks for your good wishes and mine are the same to you.


LeaNder said...

"The 'Games Theory' suggestion I found very interesting. It resembles my own outlook on the matter to some extent although I found their technique too one-sided to be really viable."

Yes, that's why it was on my mind immediately. You are only the second that does not repeat the same story again and again in this field.

Re: Game Theory approach

"I remember getting a ticket from a policeman when I made a wrong turn near the city centre. Had to pay him 20 Marks as I recall - yes, it was that long ago."

There is a basic Cologne rule. Maybe we should make it a little more known. While you turn right everywhere, if that is were you want to go, in Cologne the only way to get there might be to turn left first. Or the opposite. You need to move left, then best turn right to get there. Simple, isn't it?

So due to the rule above, many do what you did. Pretty often the confused foreigners, which is strictly everybody from outside Cologne. *And* most are not caught! Basic Principle number two: Never do this with a police car in sight! Almost everybody else will feel deep empathy for your state of confusion.

But yes, I can see, that must have been long ago. They caught me twice with my bicycle during the last couple of month. Maybe I was riding it altogether 10 times during that time frame. (the lucky - and the unlucky) In one case it was simply not what "dear Mr. Policemen told me" - that case is still pending - in the other there was a red traffic light but no cars far and wide. Problem a policeman on bicycle out of the blue. They want more than 80 € for each of these cases.

At the moment they are chasing bicycles to make money. So it might be a little saver for cars.

But parking must still have been cheap at that time? Since up to a decade ago, no body bothered to put money in the machines. Now they have drastically raised the prices. So people obey.

Take care - and no need to answer this

John Yorke said...

Hi BJ,

I've been a bit busy lately so haven't had much time to consult the blog. Thanks for your advice on those Cologne/Koln traffic customs. On my next visit there, whenever that is, I will try to remember what you said.

Off to Liverpool now to meet up with two of your countrymen who are attempting a repair on one of our machines. Must be serious if they have to come all that way.

So long for now,


Anonymous said...

Hi there John,

Enough of this love fest with Barbara. Don't you realise Tony Blair is now a contender for the position of next MidEast envoy? If he takes the job he's going to need all the help he can get. I suggest you send this scheme of yours to No.10 right away because, as you probably know, he's not going to be there much longer.


James Whitworth,

John Yorke said...

Hello James,

Good to hear from you again and thanks for your suggestion. Although I do seem to detect some element of humour therein, I will, nevertheless, take your proposal at face value.

Actually, this might very well be a propitious time in which to do as you suggest. But, perhaps, I should be focusing my attentions on the new man coming to power. Gordon Brown has, of late, been canvassing the great British public for its views, its opinions on pressing matters of the day. He seems to be reaching out for any new ideas which might be applied to a goodly number of thorny issues.

Of course, it may only be his way of ushering in the next phase of ‘New Labour’ and defining his role there in its ongoing mission. To boldly go, etc., etc.

In any event, if he takes this plan to heart and is able to move with it, I shall definitely insist on you being credited with its arrival on the scene.

There you have it; eternal fame and glory will,at last, be yours - and all down to that one little post.

Life can really be scary at times, can't it.

Warmest regards,


Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Eternal fame and glory?

I should be so lucky.

I'd say Gordon is going to have his hands full for the foreseeable future so if I were you I'd still go for Tony on this one. It looks like he really is shaping up to become chief Middle East envoy, middleman or whatever.

Better try to catch him today if you can. Tomorrow might be too late.



P.S: What's this title of yours 'THE TOWERS OF YORKE' all about, if I may ask?

LeaNder said...

THe TOWERS Of YORKE: John Yorke/Willy Conrad & their problem solving architecture ... so far.

Now it would be interesting to invite Willy Conrad for a little comment. Close to seventy Willi Conrad according to one net-phone-data-base.

Well much better than Meier, I guess.

John Yorke said...

Hello James,

Well, James, I've been fortunate recently to have had some spare time to reflect on your last post. So much so, in fact, that it persuaded me to take your advice.

Yesterday I e-mailed the Prime Minister's office, sending my good wishes for the future and also a link to 'The Towers of Yorke' blog. This is what I said.


RE: International Affairs
Dear Mr. Blair, 26th June 2007.

Although I may have disagreed with some decisions made in your name - and technically mine also - I am somewhat saddened by your departure from No. 10. After so long a residence there, it will take some time to get used to not having you about the place. No doubt, this will reflect your own feelings in the matter.

You now appear to be embarking on a fresh round of Middle East diplomacy. Good for you and I hope you manage to make a better fist of things as peace ambassador than most of your predecessors. That being said, this particular port-of-call has seen precious little return on all such efforts - and there have been many over the years. In the event yours meet with similar success, might I suggest you take along a back-up plan, some fail-safe device to throw into the breach should more conventional measures fail you. I would not like to see you come away from the table with absolutely nothing to show for all the commitment and promise your journey there might carry.

I have sent this to you once before but here it is now in a more graphical format. That could make some difference as to how you receive it and it would be interesting to see how much leverage such a course of action could exert.

I may also send this to Gordon. I think the first paragraph should appeal to any chancellor of the exchequer worthy of the name. As for the last paragraph, it contains the most classic get-out clause of all time. It must, therefore, surely recommend itself to politicians everywhere - with, perhaps, the exception of one contingent.


Warmest regards,

John Yorke.
His reply, although automated, was nevertheless, welcome.

Thank you for taking the time to email me.
It has been an enormous honour to serve as Prime Minister for the last decade, and I appreciate your kind words.
My family and I appreciate the wonderful support that we have been shown during our time in Downing Street.
Tony Blair


So there you have it. And who now knows where this might end? Tony could be composing a post to 'The Towers' even as I write this. No, I see he's just left Buckingham Palace and Gordon is on the way in to see the queen.

So let's wait and see; he probably needs a few days to adjust.

Best regards from,


John Yorke said...

Hi Johanna,

'John Yorke/Willy Conrad & their problem solving architecture.'

That's a wonderful description, BJ. You're very perceptive. All this does suggest a sort of framework, a protective enclosure in which to work out so many problems, problems that would otherwise be left at the mercy of the elements, those forces swirling in and out of this Middle East maelstrom.

As to locating Willy C, that might be a bit difficult. I only met him the once and that was quite some time ago. No address, no phone number. He may well surface if 'the architecture' gets greater exposure but then that would entail its adoption as a very real contender, a viable alternative to the more traditional ways in which these things are handled. Or, more usually, mishandled.

It's very wet here at the moment. Perfect Wimbledon weather! My neighbours have just come back from France; much better there. How are things where you are?

Meier? Is that the equivalent of 'Jones' in England?


LeaNder said...

Wet, cold, not much sun.

Well Meier was a random pick. I should have chosen Mueller - your Miller which seems to be the champion.

John Yorke said...

Sounds like we are exporting our British weather over to you at the moment. I hope we haven't sent you too much of it.

'Smith' and 'Jones' are our most common names here in the UK. The telephone directory is full of them - but not too many 'Conrads'.

Maybe I should check over here for Willi. Less of them to track down.

LeaNder said...

As an elder German, I wondered if putting a search on the Attac network over here would help to trace him down. Do you know or think he has children that might be active there or at least subscribed to the list?

What we would need are a little more details. Who is Willi Conrad,An engineer like you? how old is he now?

We only know he is:
German and you met him over here a long time ago in Nuernberg. Which of cause rings in our German ears.

John Yorke said...

As an elder englishman myself, I sometimes find my memories of Willi a little uncertain. I know he was an engineer at the time and about my age which would make him approximately 61 now. He had three children and was in very good health so he probably is still in the land of the living. As to exactly where that might be, your guess is as good as mine. Wurzburg seems to ring a faint bell but, after nearly 20 years, I'm not 100% sure.

All I do know is that the conversation we had and the conclusions we reached have remained viable and logical for me right up to the present day.

If Willi's ideas could have been taken up back there towards the end of the '80s, I often wonder how things would look now in 2007.

Very much better, I suspect.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

After what you wrote I neeeded a few days to adjust too.

You sure took this pigeon to the top of the tree. I'm proud of you. Not many of us would have gone directly to the main man himself like you did. I know Tony's not PM any more, he's become this special peace envoy to the Middle East. Not certain what that means. Maybe now he's got even less excuse to make a hash of it when he gets out there. If he comes back with nothing more than just the usual fudge, what's he going to do? Grab your plan as his fall-back position?

Now that would be something worth seeing.



PS. 1. Towers of Yorke, what's it mean?
2. Who are these two guys supposed to be that are on your blog? You and Mr. Conrad?

If so, which is which?

John Yorke said...

Hi JW,

Well, if you will offer advice, James, don't be too surprised if it's taken. By the way, I'm very glad I did take it. Gordon seems to have settled into his new role as PM and it's our Tony who will shortly be on his way out to the Middle East. Quite what he's going to accomplish when he gets there, God only knows. In any event, he's more than welcome to avail himself of the 'fallback position' should he ever feel the need. Knowing the odds he's up against, we can only await future developments on that score.

Apologies for not divulging the source of The Towers of Yorke motif sooner. Goes way back to my childhood. I was 12 years old and in my first year at 'Big School' where we were doing 'English Poetry.' Our very first poem was 'The Ballad of Dick Turpin.' A long ballad. Took us best part of two weeks to get through it. Funny thing is, I still remember it as if it were yesterday. Ask me what happened last week and I might have to consult my diary but that poem I can recall instantly. Strange how the mind works sometimes. Well, to cut a long story short, there's a stanza in it that goes like this: 'He strove to prove himself another, that in the morning light, The towers of York might waken him, from London and last night.' Here, the towers of York serve as a metaphor for the ability to have some burden lifted, a very real nightmare finally laid to rest. It does help if you can read the whole ballad. 'York,' as you might imagine, also has its own resonance for me.

The two characters depicted on the blog are Klaatu and Gort. If you're a sci-fi buff like me they're pretty much founder members of the genre (The Day the Earth Stood Still - 1951). I guess Klaatu represents the design, the logical approach that the TOY hopes to demonstrate. Gort might be seen here as the 'big stick,' always hovering there in the background, ready to enforce proper procedure should things stray too far from the plan. As they made their first appearance well over fifty years ago, your lack of recognition will be overlooked on this one occasion.

Michael Rennie, who played Klaatu in the film was 6'4" and Gort still towered over him. So, Willi C and myself could never be mistaken for either of them. We're simply just not tall enough!

Klaatu barada nikto,


PS. If you ever find out what 'Klaatu barada nikto' means, please let me know.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Thanks for the insights.

Please forgive my unfamiliarity with all things sci-fi. Klaatu, Gort and 1951 were a bit before my time. I do like poetry however. Could you post that ballad onto the TOY blog? If you can remember it after all those years, it must be worth a second look.



PS: 'THE BALLAD OF DICK TURPIN' Is that the only title and do you know who wrote it? Might be easier for all concerned if I just make a search on the web for it .

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Not had much luck locating your ballad but I now know more about DT than I ever did before or cared to. It seems he wasn't at all the romantic rogue that English folklore commonly makes him out to be. He didn't even make his famous ride from London to York. That was someone else and it was done well in advance of Turpin's arrival on the scene.

So that's one more illusion shattered. JY, you have a lot to answer for.

Seriously though, any more info from your end re ballad?



John Yorke said...

Hi James,

Thank you for your last two posts. I would have replied sooner but I found myself in something of a quandary. You see, I simply could not remember who actually penned the ballad. More embarrassing still was my memory. It saddened me to realise I could remember only relatively few of the many lines I knew to be contained within the poem. So much for my boast of instant recall. Ze little grey cells are maybe not so numerous as once they were.

I thought the internet would surely rescue me and, maybe just as you did, I trawled through various search engines but all to no avail. Certainly there are plenty of references to Mr. Turpin and to his life and times but tantalisingly very little on the ballad itself. Eventually, more by luck than judgement, I did manage to locate the name of the author, one Mr. Alfred Noyes. Having exhausted the web on this subject, I then sought out the services of my local library. No, they didn't have anything about the author but, on consulting their computerised database, two of his books were registered with the main library. This building was presently undergoing emergency roof repairs and possibly there would be no access to these particular volumes. On further checking, however, they were discovered hiding in the reserve stock, buried deep within the bowels of the basement.

Thus it was I shortly found myself in possession of the collected poems of Mr. Noyes. And the ballad.

Apparently, it's more commonly known as 'Dick Turpin's Ride' and it seems I misquoted the section referred to in the TOY blog. it should read,

'He rode for the one impossible thing; that, in the morning light,
The towers of York might waken him - from London and last night'

If you would care to e-mail me, James, I can now send you the whole ballad: bit too long to be included in this post (114 lines).



P S. I like the TOY contraction. May decide to make that the blog's title soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi again John,

I just logged on to that link you have to Richard Silverstein/Tikun Olam ... and guess what?

He has this thing going about the grief a certain Palestinian-American archaeologist(?), Nadia Abu El-Haj, is getting from a few conservatives in some Jewish circles over there in the US. Archaeology's not really my scene but I did log on to the her book's website. She seems to have had some favourable reviews but, apart from that, all I could manage to see was the picture on the cover of her book, 'Facts on the Ground.'

I would have said 'Facts on the Ground' is pretty much what you're trying to do in your blog. I know it's just coincidence but the picture she's using for her book is a tower, "Migal David" aka the Tower of David apparently.

Spooky is it not?

Just thought I'd let you know.



Anonymous said...

Hello again John,

Not sure if my previous comment(16th Aug) got through. I sent it from Cyprus so, if you didn't get it, I imagine it's still wafting about the Aegean somewhere.

I managed to read the ballad of DT while I was lying on the beach over there. Great stuff! real boy's own adventure comic material. I could almost feel myself galloping along the Great North Road with the rest of them.
Thanks for the intro.

Toy Story title is a good one. Just hope you won't get any calls from Pixar Animation; I think they may have first dibs on the name.

Cyprus: a divided country very much like Israel/Palestine but with no discernible violence that I could see. I wonder what their secret is?

Bye for now.


John Yorke said...

Comment posted to Richard Silverstein's website 13/09/2007.

Only included here because I like telling about it. Read all the way to the end and you'll see why

'Yes, Richard, I would agree with you that this incident may indeed represent a step too far in these cat-and-mouse games played out between Israel and her neighbours.

What this promotes is an awareness of uncertainty, a shifting in the uneasy balance between potential combatants. That is never a good state of mind for any of them to be in, even at the best of times. The whole situation really needs some long-term stability, a means of knowing for sure that the other side is not contemplating some new or sudden adventure beyond that which passes for normal traffic.

Stabilisation, as you know, is rarely the norm in the sphere of Middle East Middle relations; always too much going on, too many people trying to upset the apple-cart for that to happen.

What’s needed is a constant braking effort applied to proceedings there, a mandatory scaling-down of the possibilities for incalculable harm being done to and by all concerned.

Well, my take on that you already know: http://yorketowers.blogspot.com . You may think a chance conversation in a Nuremberg restaurant one evening nearly twenty years ago hardly constitutes a viable alternative to this conflict; the odds are so overwhelmingly against it.

But overwhelming odds can be overcome; sometimes with the minimum of effort.

Let me tell you something about ‘odds.’ This all actually happened to me over the weekend.

Last Friday, driving home from work, I was in conversation with my manager. The week had not gone well. The machine I was working on had been ‘down’ for five or six days; a veritable eternity from the customer’s point of view. Basically we were discussing what was planned for the following Monday. This involved exchanging the very last two parts that hadn’t already been changed. He then reminded me, quite forcefully, to complete and send back to personnel a form I had omitted to deal with some months previously. To me this form was the equivalent of company junk mail; a yearly confirmation of my personal details held in its computers; a matter of surely trifling importance.

I spent most of Saturday morning looking for this document. Where was it? Had I thrown it out with the trash? Was it lurking in some dark hole, never to be seen again? Eventually, after some hours, I found it, having trawled through masses of other equally redundant paperwork. I duly signed and dated it, put it in an envelope, addressed the envelope and then went to look for a stamp. On passing my table, now piled high with paperwork of every description, I noticed a small brown envelope lying on the top. I examined it and found inside, to my great surprise, a legacy from my aunt Julia dating back some thirty years. It appeared to be her entire life-savings. I now surmise it must have been floating about the house for the best part of twenty years.

Suddenly the company document went on the back-burner while I sought out the website of the bank referred to in the legacy. I then contacted the bank. I was advised to send all documentation to their head office where a free tracing facility would track down the accounts in question. These accounts stretched back well over half a century. Having made photostats my aunt’s nomination, I placed these in another envelope and wrote upon it the address the bank had given me.

I now had two letters to post and was about to do so when I noticed something very strange. Both envelopes had the same postcode. Their destination was, as indeed I later determined, a single office building somewhere in or near Glasgow, Scotland.

The ‘odds’ against discovering a 30 year old legacy after 20 years are heavy enough but that, coupled with having two sets of such diverse documents terminating in the very same building, one of countless thousands throughout the UK, might well suggest something other than mere random chance. Fate? Destiny? Aunt Julia? Who knows?

Even the unlikeliest set of circumstances can sometimes generate the best of all possible outcomes.

Additional: One of the parts I’d ordered for that broken machine solved its problems on the Monday. This week has seen such an improvement over last. Yesterday was also my birthday. I really don’t think I could have asked for a much better present than the one I received.'

John Yorke said...

Hello James,

Sorry to be so away from here for so long. I'm glad you found the ballad to your liking. I must say it did recall many memories of schooldays for me.

That 'tower' you mention in your post (18/08/07) does have a certain resonance about it. Athough judging by my last posting here, 'spookiness' would seem to be the order of the day lately.

Hope to post further and soon,


Anonymous said...

I don't have time to read all the comments, so forgive me if this one is repetitive. Throughout the history of the conflict, one of the biggest obstacles has been Arab/Palestinian refusal to recognize the right of Israel to exist (the PA charter has NOT been changed, the Hamas charter still calls for Israel's destruction).

How do you overcome that? No matter what the world says, this view is unlikely to change.

John Yorke said...

Hello Anon,

'How do you overcome that? No matter what the world says, this view is unlikely to change.'

Thank you for your comments.

And you're correct when you state that the attitudes of those more immediately involved here do need significant alteration. But for most of them change is a hard road to travel with dangers apparent on every side. Changes, however, are urgent and vital but if they cannot be sourced from within then it follows they must be obtained from without. That is why this blog attempts to promote an alternative approach, one where an external, proactive method is used. First priority: stabilise the situation for the length of time it takes to halt the violence so endemic in the region. Conditions then become so much more favourable for those 'changes' to emerge. Second priority: Maintain the first priority until such 'changes' are fully fledged and able to stand and flourish on their own.

As with everything, it can be all so straightforward when you know how.......



Anonymous said...


I like the idea of it being such a simple method that brings about an end to this horrible conflict but it still sounds a little too far-fetched to me.

Are you saying if this is just floated onto the international scene, it will sort out all the problems for good? I cant believe that but I can see it would create a new dimension and that might be a way out.

I know this struggle between the Israelis and Palestinians has been going on for God knows how long but if a bit of mathematics can solve the puzzle why hasn't someone thought of it before?

I will say this. It does make a change from the usual rubbish solutions that everyone keeps coming up with - and NOT working.

Flora, student of War.

John Yorke said...

Hi Flora,

My apologies for the delay replying to your comment, a comment for which I thank you.

I must say I've never really thought much about how the procedure advanced in this blog might be initiated. Your idea of it floating onto the international scene seems as good as any. Perhaps things have to reach a crisis such that more peripheral, more direct solutions like this then manage to muscle their way into the world's consciousness. In short, I can't seem to provide a ready-made answer your question.

All I know is that it's an option available to whatever personage or institution may feel its time has come.

As to why noboby appears to have thought of it before this, my only conclusion must be that everyone has assumed some external solution would eventually and somehow carry the day. Nobody, therefore, has been looking internally at the problem.

Hope that makes sense to you, Flora.

John Y

John Yorke said...

Postscrpt to Flora,

The Israelis, the Palestinians and all those others having fingers in this particular pie have often flouted the laws of both God and Man. The laws of Mathematics are, however, much more rigid and unforgiving.

And it may be that only these laws can prevail while all others are fated to lie broken and buried by the sands of time.


Anonymous said...

Hello John Yorke,

In theory your concept has some valid points but there is a world of difference between theory and practice.

OK, it certain the majority of Israelis and Palestinians will not be too enthusiastic about some aspects of squaring this circle. I think it's too ambitious but it's nice to have an alternative to think about.

Celeste Sorrel.

Farka said...

This is a very silly idea. Israel's title to the West Bank is already unrecognised by the whole world; that has never stopped it taking over any bits it feels like. If Israel lost out under this system, its reaction would be "You say it's not my land? So make me leave." If the Palestinians lost out, their reaction would be "So what? We don't control it now, what difference does being told it's not ours make?" It might work if other countries decided to enforce it - but with a nuclear-armed Israel, that ain't gonna happen.

John Yorke said...

Thank you for your observations, Farka, but I feel you may be missing the point. This method, also known as the German Plan or GP for short, is not, primarily, directed at acquiring or losing anybody's land. That factor only comes into the equation because land, its possession and ownership, has fuelled this conflict from the very beginning. It is the alpha and the omega of the problem. It remains, therefore, the only true arbiter of whatever resolution can be reached.

The GP, first and foremost, is a scare tactic and, quite possibly, the biggest and best we're ever likely to have. It takes the whole situation to a much higher level.

At the moment, both sides can justify any violent behaviour on their part by referring it to the need for carrying the war to the enemy. Very laudable, - especially if your side is the one doing the carrying. However, once the GP is in place, this rationale rapidly collapses. That same 'enemy,' is suddenly more than content to have the war carried to him. By simply being less violent than his counterpart, he stands to benefit immeasurably from the exchange. That very same counterpart, on the other hand, is likely to lose out in the biggest way possible, a possibility he can forestall only by becoming even more non-violent in return.

We're not living in the stone-age any more where the guy with the biggest club usually got what he wanted and devil take the rest. The trick here is to furnish all the guys with exactly the same type of club and then keep giving them bigger and bigger clubs. Pretty soon, no one will be able to lift their club let alone use it. When that situation occurs, there will still not be peace. However, conditions vastly superior to those of past and present times will have been established, allowing something very much like real peace to emerge. At the moment, there seems very little prospect of that happening, now or in the near future. Even in the far future, things look decidedly bleak in that respect.

So, why not try the GP? The laws of Man have always been much too tentative, too moderate and too unsure in these matters. The laws of Mathematics need have no such limitations.

Mattai Largo, said...

This is so crazy. The result is to make a mosaic for a small country which will not work for anyone in it.

If you can make a mosaic like this to work then ok. People never do things this neatly. They like to mess up every time and that is why these wars and conflicts will continue.

John Yorke said...

Hi Mattai, welcome,
Of course, you're correct; mankind has never been noted for its neatness in such matters. Neatness here requires considerable effort and planning: so many loose ends to tie up, too many conflicting points of view vying for attention. Generally, most of us have to be content with making do the best we can, hoping against hope for better things to come. The concept detailed here, however, moves that whole process up onto an entirely new level.

Please don't see it as a mosaic. If it should take that route, then the result will mean failure. Think of it more as a feasibility study, a work in progress, a project that either will work or will not. If it doesn't pan out, then what have we lost? A few brain cells and a future that was never meant to be. But, if it is found to be just what's needed, then we can all finally pat ourselves on the back and congratulate everyone concerned on a job well done.

Remember, all it takes is an idea whose time has come. After the best part of a century trying to lay the matter to rest, the Israeli/Palestinian struggle, along with so many others, may find its resolution only when the laws of mathematics become allied with the laws of chance. As they do in this instance.

If we cannot give direction to that which tasks us, then we are surely lost. And being lost is never the best start to any venture.

What is envisaged here may be one path we can all take. Others, so far, have proved to be dead ends and of no benefit to anyone except, perhaps, armaments manufacturers.

Anonymous said...

Just what we need---a German solution to a Jewish Problem.

John Yorke said...

German solution or not, we still need something with which to address the vacillation and timidity that, so far, has characterised all of our deliberations on this type of problem.

This is a big, big problem, nothing minor about it. Therefore we must not be frightened to think big when confronting it. Thinking small will get us all precisely nowhere; of that you can be very, very sure.

Anonymous said...

You forgot Judicial disputes. That is, today and in earlier times the palestinians get automatic majority (as said once, if the arabs decide the earth is flat, the UN would accept such a declaration), and we can not trust the UN or other bodies to get agreeable identification of one act as violent. For example, an arrest of a known terorist, assassination of a known terrorist, and so on. I would never let the UN decide whether to take a piece of land (my fathers allready fought for and died for) and give it to the palestinians.

John Yorke said...

Thanks for your comment, Anonymous.

I would agree that having the UN decide on ownership of any land in the region would be a bad idea. Too much intrigue and behind-the-scenes dealing for that. But, in this instance, the UN would be without any power to do so. It might be expected to record the verdict, even enforce it to some extent, but it could never have judgement in the matter. That decision could only be made by an Israeli or his Palestinian counterpart, one that, ultimately, he or she would have to live with for the rest of their lives.
Would you be able to make that decision?
Would your relatives? Would any Israeli? Would any Palestinian for that matter? Not one, I suspect.

For anyone to be viewed as the culprit in the loss of even the smallest part of this much disputed territory would mean instant expulsion from the tribe, isolation of the most complete kind possible.

To understand the principle behind this concept is to realise that no loss of land is expected to take place; only the possibility of such a loss is allowed.
Since neither side is likely to permit such an event, a 'de facto' peace emerges, bringing with it conditions far more conducive to a 'de jure' peace.

Either way, some sort of peace is finally established and, once firmly in place, getting rid of it will be virtually impossible.

And all of us can then relax a little and know that we did the very best we could under extremely trying circumstances.

גירושין said...

waow,,, i am loving this conversation.

John Yorke said...

I am pleased that you like it.

I must admit I haven't checked it out myself lately. It's good to know it hasn't suffered too badly from the ravages of time. Almost five years have passed since it began and it's amazing but still sad to realise how little things have changed.

Regards, JY.

toyalsmith said...

yes it really be beyond the compass of the human mind to at least regulate this constant cycle of life but some time this main balance is disturb is the reach to divorce situation גירושין

John Yorke said...

There can be no divorce from life unless it is that which is found in death, the only known supplier of the one means of exit.

But that would mean an admission of our failure to react and overcome all manner of adversity.
Such a response is not worthy of human beings nor should it ever remain so.

We are surely better than that.

Anonymous said...

Your heid is full of wee wheels. :o) Do you spend much time in Israel and/or neighbouring countries?

John Yorke said...

I've only ever set foot in the Middle East on one occasion. Worked in and travelled around Qatar for about two months.

Very hot and humid, as I recall, not much to see there then but everyone I met was very friendly and hospitable.

But these days, in our fast shrinking world, Qatar, Israel and neighbouring countries can seem like they're practically on our doorstep via the Internet whenever we wish.

Emanuel Shahaf said...

The GP is a version of a similar suggestion made by Prof. Dan Ariely who suggested that interested parties deposit considerable amounts of money (billions of Dollars) into an account, money that would be made available to the Palestinians and Israel at some point in the future. Whenever one side digresses from positive actions towards peace, a financial penalty is assigned and the offending side loses a chunk. The idea , like with the GP, to discourage delaying tactics and any kind of sabotage. Nice idea, difficult to implement, less painful than the GP

Mukala Wamukala said...

This is a man made solution and is far too complicated. We need a simple solution.
How about a peace engagement between Jews and Arabs in the name of Abraham, first.
They need to swear to each other that as brothers, they will never wage war against each other, that they will always work towards peace in any instances.
The warmongers on each side will be provided with guns and munitions, and gathered on a chosen strip of land to kill each other off. They will be provided with proper care at a time and send back to the battlefield until they have finished each other off.
The peace loving Jews and Arabs, will enjoy a time of peace and prosperity by working and helping each other under the new deal.
The brothers will prevent the outside forces from interfering in the deal or breaking it apart.
The conflict between Jews and Arabs is fanned from the outside, and those outside forces need to be recognised and dealt with first.

John Yorke said...


My apologies for replying so many months removed from your remarks in October last year. I had not checked this site for some considerable time and so was unaware of your comments from way back then.
Monetary penalties won't really work in the Middle East. With so much oil around the place, the amount of money flowing in and out of the region makes it all too vague and impersonal for any financial penalties to have much effect.

Land, on the other hand is a finite resource and has far more of an emotive and permanent ability to operate successfully on most, if not all, mindsets in the local area.

As for implementation, I would suggest that the mere discussion of such a proposal would soon see a marked difference in the attitudes of all concerned. The actual possibility of finalising this 65 year-old conflict by means of such a simple formula should be welcomed with open arms by everyone on the planet. I would expect there to be very little pain and much rejoicing at so comprehensive a resolution to this matter and many others of a similar nature.

John Yorke said...


My apologies also to you for the delay in replying to your observations on this matter.

I would agree that simple solutions would be the best ones to use here but what about the language in which they must then be seen to operate?
There is, in this matter, no common language upon which both sides can really communicate confidently with each other. But what could serve us all better than the universal language of mathematics?
In every county around the world, two plus two must always equal four. And random results are often much more acceptable to nations and individuals than many carefully crafted treaties and agreements that, all too often, are so easily abrogated not long after the ink has dried upon them.

The requirement is therefore for a long-lasting means of securing a peace process. Anything that can be turned off on a mere whim or a perceived insult of some kind will not be sufficient to the task.

'There are always possibilities'