Comments

  1. AstroLad says

    Thanks for recommending Sean B. Carroll’s The Serengeti Rules. Ordering a copy today. Is the title a takeoff of Moscow Rules (a la John Le Carre)?

  2. birgerjohansson says

    För some reason, the image and sound of the podcast did not appear until 17 minutes past the hour.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    AstroLad @ # 1: …Moscow Rules (a la John Le Carre)…

    Huh? I found two novels by that title, by Daniel Da Silva & Robert Moss – the late John Le C is innocent of that charge.

  4. blf says

    @3, I presume @1 is referring to some of le Carré’s stories, where the so-called “Moscow Rules” are part of the plot:

    Moscow rules are prominently referred to in John le Carré’s cold war books including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People, as tradecraft, including use of inconspicuous signal markers (drawing pins, chalk marks), the use of dead drops, and the ways to signal the need for a (rare) face-to-face meeting. Moscow Rules are important at the beginning of Smiley’s People, where the General invokes the rules to request a meeting with Smiley, but he is followed and killed by KGB assassins before it can happen. The applicable rule states that no documents may be carried that cannot be instantly discarded, in this instance a 35mm negative concealed in an empty pack of cigarettes.

    From the link, the Moscow Rules are:
    1. Assume nothing.
    2. Never go against your gut.
    3. Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
    4. Do not look back; you are never completely alone.
    5. Go with the flow, blend in.
    6. Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.
    7. Lull them into a sense of complacency.
    8. Do not harass the opposition.
    9. Pick the time and place for action.
    10. Keep your options open.

    In the sense the (possibly fictional) Moscow Rules are all about surviving in a hostile environment, the name Serengeti Rules might indeed by a (loose) takeoff on that name, albeit my understanding (having never seen the movie or read the book) is the Serengeti Rules are not fictional, but instead a critical component of modern ecology.

  5. AstroLad says

    @3&4: As blf points out, le Carré uses the term in is works. Having recently watched both Tinker Tailor and Smiley’s People, it was the first thing I thought of when I heard the title. I’d never heard of Silva’s book until today. Adding it to my list.

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