Life, Art, Imitation Thereof

One of my favorite-ever literary passages is in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, when Yossarian walks into a bedroom to discover that his lunatic navigator Aarfy has just murdered a prostitute by throwing her out the window.  While he’s remonstrating with Aarfy, the military police burst into the room — and arrest Yossarian for being AWOL.

Thus, this:

Teenage girls who were raped while out for a walk during Russia’s lockdown are threatened with FINES for breaking coronavirus restrictions

I know that this was in Russia, where strange shit happens every day;  but I would suggest that the bureaucratic mindset behind this kind of thing is universal.


  1. My favorite part of “22” is in the explanation of why you’d have to be crazy to fly, but if you asked to be relieved, you’d be sane.

  2. Heller was a bit of a leftist, but like Orwell he was still was able to see the truth.

    Besides, he flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier. 60. Jesus H. Christ. Wow.

    I’ve read Catch-22 a few times, and it was not as great as all that, but a lot better than much of the competition.

    1. Not to denigrate 60 missions, but that reminds me of the Guy Gibson story. He got the VC for leading the Dambusters’ mission.

      He attended a major Press Conference at the offices of the British Information Service in New York on 7 October 1943. This was “at a time when the first American airmen were coming home ‘tour expired’ after 25 operations. During questions one young lady asked, ‘Wing Commander Gibson, how many operations have you been on over Germany?’ He replied, ‘One hundred and seventy-four.’ There was a stunned silence”.

      He then went back and flew more missions, till he shot down, aged 26, in 1944.

      1. The USAAF rotated experienced pilots, etc. home to train more pilots, etc., IF they survived enough missions. (I get the impression that this was usually after more than half of them were killed or POW’s.) With that system, we could build bombers and fighters in amazing numbers and never run short of men to fly them. Nor did we often have new men getting killed on their first mission because their training was either too short or taught the wrong things. The Germans and Japanese tended to keep their best pilots on the front until they were finally killed. That gave them aces with hundreds of kills, but they never trained enough replacements. By the last year of the war, the Germans had new jet fighters waiting for pilots skilled enough to fly them, and the Japanese were using carriers as bait and sending men on one-way missions who hadn’t been trained to land on a carrier.

        IIRC, the Brits also rotated airmen home for training, but they fought a longer war with fewer men to draw upon. That may have forced them to keep their airmen in combat longer, and also to rotate airmen back into combat after a stint as a trainer.

  3. yes — Universal

    One of our Engineers was in a car accident in Saudi Arabia. They were the middle car in a three car rear end collision. He was the one who was arrested, taken to the Airport, and shipped home to England even though he was only a passenger and not even the driver.

    Why? Because if he hadn’t been in the Kingdom, the camel jockey in the 3rd car would have had room to stop. It certainly couldn’t have been the fault of the local Sheik driving the 3rd car.

  4. Great movie. There has been that odd day or two, overrun by idiots and absurdity, when I have stared blankly into space and mumbled “My raft. Where’s my raft?”.

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