Google had a global email issue, over the last 48 hours, affecting Google Apps for work customers, mainly in the US and UK. It can affect isolated users within Apps domains. The symptom is a ‘service not available’ message when the user tries to log in, as though email were an optional app not enabled for that user.

The fix is very simple. I’ll prefix this, though, with the disclaimer that you’re responsible for your own actions and data and should take advice, by using the support system in the domain management console, if you are at all uncertain or want to check this with Google first.

In the management console, choose Apps and then Google Apps. Gmail should be marked as ‘on for everyone’. From the three dot menu to the right, choose ‘Off’, then click to confirm in the dialogue that pops up. Wait ten seconds, then click again on the three dot menu and choose On For Everyone, assuming that was your setting. If you only allow it for selected users, enable them as you did previously.

That’s it.

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Chris wrote:

If it is membership of the EU which is undermining competitiveness, why is it that Germany is doing so much better at exporting to China than the UK? Last year, its exports (pdf) to China were €71.4bn (£51.7bn) compared to the UK’s £12.8bn, which meant such exports represented 2.4% of GDP against 0.7 per cent for the UK.

I was curious and Googled. Wikipedia has this to say:

The frequent high-level diplomatic visits are acknowledged to have helped guarantee the smooth development of Sino-German relations. From 1993 to 1998, German and Chinese leaders met face-to-face 52 times: Among those Chinese leaders who visited Germany were President Jiang Zemin; Qiao Shi, former Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC); and Li Peng, former Premier and Chairman of the NPC Standing. Meanwhile, German leaders who visited China included President Roman Herzog, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office Ludger Volmer. Among these leaders, Chancellor Kohl visited China twice in 1993 and 1995. Since the new German government came into power in October 1998, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has paid three visits to China. One after another from Germany came Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping, and Minister of Economics and Technology Werner Müller. At the same time, Germany welcomed Chinese Primer Zhu Rongji, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, State Councilor Wu Yi, Member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Wei Jianxing as well as Vice President Hu Jintao.

Relations would continue to improve after 1998. For instance, both Beijing and Berlin fervently opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and in 2006 both Germany (the largest economy and the most populous country of the European Union) and China further enhanced their bilateral political, economic and diplomatic ties within the framework of Sino-EU strategic partnerships. Both Germany and China opposed direct military involvement in the 2011 Libyan civil war. Before the 2011 visit of China’s PM Wen Jiabao, the Chinese government issued a “White Book on the accomplishments and perspective of Sino-German cooperation”, the first of its kind for a European country. The visit also marked the first Sino-German government consultations, an exclusive mechanism for Sino-German communications.

So I suppose the answer to Chris’s question might be that Germany is China’s biggest trading partner and has a special trading relationship with it outwith the EU.

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In sum: Distasteful as the Saudis are, the Iranian regime is far worse. The Saudis are not carrying out crimes against humanity the way that Iran is. And Saudi Arabia is not seeking to subvert its neighbors or to make war on America or our allies. Indeed, Saudi Arabia has reached a quiet rapprochement with Israel because the two states are united in their mutual opposition to growing Iranian power.

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The series created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss [Sherlock] works so well because its adaptation of the exploits of Sherlock Holmes is, excepting the names, flagrantly faithless…

No conundrum solved by Holmes is as mysterious as the enduring popularity of these squibs. Remember A Case of Identity from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes? Thought not: a plot that hinges on the inability of a spinster to work out that her suitor is in reality her wicked stepfather in disguise invites not sympathy for the victim but derision for the author.

Each to their own, and I don’t object to others’ harmless reading pleasure, but the notion that Holmes epitomises rationality is ripe for debunking. Holmes’s method is not reason but wild speculation and remorseless serendipity. He advises Watson to approach cases with “an absolutely blank mind, which is always an advantage”. What? That isn’t even a parody of critical inquiry. Where would scientists be without laws and theories? Plot contrivances such as a venomous snake trained to slither down a bedpull and then up again (in The Adventure of the Speckled Band, as if you cared) are an insult to the reader’s intelligence.

In person, Doyle would believe almost anything. It’s not a literary failing that he was an enthusiast for the occult (so too was Yeats) but there’s neatness in the fact that spiritualists tried to summon his spirit at the Royal Albert Hall five days after his death in 1930. He failed to turn up, having perhaps realised in the meantime that his life’s work merited public oblivion.

Oliver Kamm, The Times (£)

It’s rare for something to be so thoroughly misunderstood. Certainly, the mysteries that confront Holmes can be rather silly. In one of my favourites, for example, a blue carbuncle is fed to a goose, which is instantly mistaken for another by the thief, while the goose with the gem in its crop immediately makes its way to an acquaintance of Sherlock Holmes. Worse than silliness, in some stories Holmes holds information the reader doesn’t have, a serious breach of detective story ethics. Yet nobody seems to mind.

Because, and this should be fairly obvious, the mysteries are beside the point. Indeed, we never learn anything at all about one of the most significant:

Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson, … It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared.

“For which the world is not yet prepared” – we read these stories for the silliness of the hyperbole. It delighted P G Wodehouse, who made Bertie Wooster refer to Holmes repeatedly. It’s very funny to read Wooster saying something like “You know my methods” to Jeeves, but there’s far more going on than a simple joke at Bertie’s expense. The similarities between the two sets of stories are extraordinary.

Both focus on a couple, two men, one clever, one less so. Both are narrated in the first person by the less clever one – with, I think I’m right in saying, exactly one exception in both cases, there is one H&W story narrated by Holmes, and one J&W story narrated by Jeeves. Neither is more than a curiosity.

This structure allows a very effective comedic and dramatic trick, that of having the narrator unaware of things the reader and the cleverer partner are aware of. The narrator can even be used a pawn by the other character, not realise it, yet make sure the reader does.

It was invented by Conan Doyle, and copied and complimented by Wodehouse, perhaps the greatest writer in English of the twentieth century – don’t be misled by the fact he ‘only’ wrote comedy.

Don’t be misled by Conan Doyle’s apparent oafish stupidity, either. If he had wanted to write about scientific detective work, he could have done so. The period in which he set the stories, the decades before 1914, was one of enormous progress. Fingerprinting became a standard police procedure, forensic ballistics emerged; Holmes apparently knew nothing of either. When a fingerprint does appear, nobody takes any notice of the whorls, its importance is as a planted piece of evidence.

Telephones appear in a handful of stories, Watson drives a car in the latest in setting, in 1914, but technology remains rooted in the mid-nineteenth century, for the most part. That is, the stories’ own use of technology is anachronistic, and deliberately so. The setting is a fantasy version of Victorian London, one forever lit by gas lamps, whose taxis are for all time horse-drawn and whose streets are eternally cobbled.

It’s a fantasy. It isn’t real. It isn’t meant to be the real London. 221B Baker Street is an address chosen deliberately because it didn’t exist. It’s the prototype for Harry Potter’s railway station platform.

Holmes is a fantasy character and his scientific detection, of which we learn just what we have to for the narrative, and no more, is a fantasy too. It isn’t meant to be taken seriously. It’s a device that allows Watson to be both uncomprehending and admiring.

It’s a measure of Conan Doyle’s success in rendering this fantastical version of the world convincing, complete with its archetypal characters and a version of science closer to phrenology than forensics, that some people do believe it and criticise it as though it’s serious.

But it’s no more serious than the Jeeves and Wooster stories. Like them, the joy for the reader is the narrative itself. It’s Bertie Wooster’s vocabulary, and Watson’s hyperbole. It’s the magnification of trivial things into issues of huge significance, for few of Holmes’s cases are actually of any import at all. Holmes’s methods aren’t realistic, but nor are Jeeves’s. The joke comes from having a character who is, in Wodehouse’s word, omniscient, and in seeing them through the eyes of a narrator who is – let’s be gentle – not omniscient.

The stories are recitations, performances of which the plots are there simply to support the characters and the narrative. Wodehouse used the same plots over and over again, and it didn’t matter at all, what mattered was each particular performance. The Holmes and Watson stories are the same.

Which is why I haven’t got the slightest interest in watching Sherlock. The series makes the same mistake Kamm does, of thinking the ‘mysteries’ are the point. They’re not going to get anything else right, from that starting point. And I think it’s a shame that millenial viewers might come to associate this series with the characters, and in doing so lose one of the genuinely great achievements of imagination and literature.

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Huner Surchi asked me to help put his words into better English. This is what he said:


All my family are Peshmarga.

They are fighting and risking their lives for other people’s lives and honour. I want you to understand, honour means a lot to us. Two Yazidi sisters who had been raped and escaped went from refugee to refugee asking them to kill them. When nobody did, they threw themselves from the mountain they had fled to.

And I want you to understand that Peshmarga are not enough.

Oh, they are enough for fighting. They are fighting IS and they are fighting the Arabs who have betrayed us.

Yes, betrayed us, and that’s something I want you to understand. As the Islamic State advanced, and our fighters had to fall back because they were fighting tanks with rifles, some of the Arabs who had lived among us, had been our neighbours, drank coffee with us and smiled at our children – some of our Arab neighbours joined the barbarians. They joined in the killing. They joined in the raping. Because they were neighbours, they knew where the prettiest young women lived. Women who could be raped, and taken as slaves and sold for the price of a hamburger in a western country. Sold for the price of a quarter pound of chopped meat.

Now hatred of Arabs is felt by many Kurds. And you will say that is bad, that is racist. We will say we don’t know who we can trust and so we can’t trust any  Arabs. You have felt this too. You interned Germans and Japanese during the Second World War. Many of them were blameless. But war breeds hate. War is not something you can play with, it’s not something you can take chances with. And for us, in our history, our recent history and our far history, we have been massacred by Arabs countless times. And now Arab neighbours have turned against us. There were no Arabs among the refugees on Sinjar mountain.

There’s something else I want you to understand. You have given us many things. You are giving us weapons now, and air cover, and we are very grateful. But you gave us the arms embargo that meant we faced tanks with rifles. We have built the most tolerant society in Iraq. Women have been free. We have trades unions. We had Arab neighbours, living equally with us until this happened. We have been an example of what is possible. And you have favoured Iraqi governments, and Turkish governments, who have slaughtered us and denied us our rights. You have refused to recognise Kurdistan. And now we have been fighting your war for you. It is our war, but it is your war too.

Because you have given us something else. IS fighters here include Arabs, but they include men with British accents who discuss on Twitter how many Kurdish women they are each allowed as sex slaves. They include Australians who post pictures on social media of their sons holding up severed heads. They include men with American and Canadian accents, men speaking French and German, men from Belgium and Holland and Sweden and Norway. You have given us some of our enemies. How has this happened?

How have you let your universities and mosques become incubators for these people? There are things I want you to understand about us, but I want to understand this about you.

And I want to understand how you can support our fight, how you can talk about brave Peshmarga, and not fight too. Because this is also your fight. You gave us these people. Now fight them with us.

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Here’s a lovely post on the death of his old dog, from James Lileks.

We lost three dogs last year and gained two.

Humphrey was very old but he made it to the point where he’d had half his life with us. His last year was very much as described by Lileks, a process of decline, milestones passed like his last ever walk, reaching the stage where he couldn’t get up without help, losing bowel control. He was a sweet, gentle old dog who’d had a bad time yet, with that extraordinary ability of dogs, he carried no bitterness.

Sam was scheduled to be put down when we heard of him. He died of natural causes on his bed almost a decade later, after a short illness and a full, happy life. To the people who made him lost, then wanted to kill him I can only say: screw you, he won.

Ben was lost when Sam died, they’d had nine years together. Then we got Bernie and Ben entered a new phase with renewed interest in life. Then he got old, but not gradually, like he’d been hit by a truck. For giant dogs, like Ben, this can happen and it’s a blessing in the sense that that old age though harsh, is brief.

The cigarette burns on Bernie’s back have become less visible, the scars and bruising on his face have healed. We’d just asked for the most desperate case in the rescue and it was Bernie. He was seriously depressed but after three or four months he came over one evening, sat by me, leaned against me, sighed and closed his eyes. He stayed there for half an hour. It was like he suddenly believed, like he trusted this was permanent. He’s also a mastiff. Ever since that evening, he’s felt no need to go off by himself and lie quietly.

Then we took Percy from a euthanasia list, another loving, playful pup about to be destroyed because of human fecklessness. He’s a funny animal, like a cross between a boxer and a ridgeback.

Since Christmas, the rescue we got Bernie and Bertie from have saved dozens of dogs and they’ve been unable to save dozens more, all killed around Christmas with people getting rid of old ones to buy puppies, or dumping unwanted gifts. Most of them are Staffie or Mastiff crosses. Many are bitches who’ve been bred until they’re past their usefulness.

The worst case, who was saved this week, is a Staffie bitch who was used as a brood mare then, when she miscarried a litter, she was thrown to the dogs – used as bait for fighting dogs. Her face was ripped to pieces, her teeth were smashed.

Rescue dogs, don’t buy them from breeders.

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