GENGHIS KHAN July 11, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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In 1206 Genghis Khan united the tribes of Central Asia across what is now China,Iraq, Iran and Russia. His 800th Anniversary is being celebrated this year in Mongolia. The BBC reports that some think he is more than a great war leader, the parallel might be to Charlemagne, and more akin to a religious figure. As I recall the Mongols had no preference for urban civilization, which ultimately may have been their Achilles heel. Since this empire of the plains and herders had knock-on effects to east, to the west, and to the south, it was a significant development in its time, and influenced events in China and Europe.
ONE OR THE OTHER IS LYING July 10, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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. . . or in a semi-recumbent position, or some such.
Newspapers, such as The Sydney Morning Herald, this morning reported that Howard promised the prime ministership to the Treasurer, Peter Costello, after two terms in office. The offer and acceptance were witnessed by a colleague who later was a Minister and who has notes of the conversation.
The report is credible to the extent that at the time Costello was deputy leader of the Liberal Party, and Howard at the time took over the party leadership from Downer.
Now there seems to be allegations of lying, as reported by the ABC Online. Do you mean to tell me that Costello believes what Howard says? In fairness, since that time he and we have had much more experience.
The received opinion of the commentators is that this agreement does not amount to much. The bottom line is, we are told, that Costello does not have majority support among his colleagues, and so will not mount a challenge to Howard’s leadership.
One conclusion is that Howard, like Blair, has grown very attached to being prime minister.
The question is where does the story go from here? I suspect nowhere. Costello is no Cassius. I liked Senator Bartletts observation:
Fresh from a year of the federal government using their control of the Senate to take more and more power, and Mr Costello musing just last week about grabbing more power off all the state governments too, Liberal Party figures now clearly think they are so politically unassailable in government that they can publicly brawl over who gets control of their gravy train.
So hubris is now riding high among the cavaliers, not centralists, but nationalists. John Howard as I recall used to bang on about party unity, now perhaps he has become a source of disunity. Peter Costello might be seen as a captain of the roundheads.
ISRAELI UNILATERALISM July 9, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Despite the appeals by the UN Secretary General, reported by the BBC, to stop its incursions and air strikes, Israel, it seems, can do what it likes, and is rarely subject to criticism by the mainstream media of the West. Israel appears to act with impunity and is never threatened with sanctions.
How did this situation arise? Surely the punitive nature of the Israeli reaction to developments in the Palestinian territories do not, for example, stem from the Holocaust, since the victims of that crime would be acutely aware of its premeditating conditions. Then again Israel is a democracy with a proportional representation system of voting without thresholds which other things being equal should provide for respect of minority opinions. The role of the Americans in supporting Israel appears to be unconditional, and the question then is what role Israel plays in furthering American interests in the Middle East.
Here is a Palestinian view on recent developments in Gaza. This NY Times article suggests excessive retaliation by Israel encourgages response by the Palestinians which they both know will be far less in its consequences but represents a reaction, a statement against the Israeli behavior.
Postscript: 10 July 2006
Juan Cole has a round-up of opinions, his and others, and reactions, sometimes muted by authoritarian regimes, in the Arab world.
LONDON BOMBING July 7, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Today marks twelve months since the commute bombs were exploded in London.
My predictions that Blair would no longer be prime minister after six months did not turn out. To suppose that the bombing was no related to the invasion of Iraq, at least in the minds of the bombers, was always a fantasy. Whatever his faults, Blair, unlike Bush and Howard, has not been so unprincipled as to exploit the so called “war on terror” to create fear.
The London Police Chief, Ian Blair, has advised that more attacks can be expected. The BBC reports on events in London and elsewhere in Britain today, and reports breaking news of an alleged plot to bomb New York road tunnels. Intelligence about the NY bombings was, we are told, gleaned from Internet chatrooms.
FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – “WINTER IN JULY” July 7, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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For some the idea of “Winter in July” will seem incongurous, but especially for those of us who have never known otherwise, the title of Doris Lessing’s collection of African stories or Sarah Brightman’s lyric, “Don’t let life pass you by like winter in July” is lost on us. There was just one day when life passed by for Sasha and Dexter when it rained and they were unable to get out. Other than that day they were out with new leads and finally new tick collars.
On the following day, as in cricket, play was abandoned for rain.
Dexter is still very responsive to other dogs and people, so we then to be following the beaten path.This week I endeavoured to provide more context. As always, I prefer to look at the enlarged photos and they can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Friday Ark, at Modulator, is getting on and should be #94 this week. I understand the Carnival of the Dogs is still playing at Mickey’s Musings.
GAZA GUN FIGHTS July 6, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Peace it appears is neither an agenda item or a dream between the Jewish people and the Palestinians. It seems that the Israeli Government intends to reclaim parts of Gaza as a buffer zone, which continuing refusing to truck with the elected Palestinian Government.
The hope might lie in the realization by some Israelis and Palestinians that a fundamental rethinking of their relationship and the dynamics of their shared history and destiny that transcends military strategy and tactics is required. It seems to me whether as a Palestinian or an Israeli their is cause to consider what price victory, if by winning we lose our humanity and our values.
Countries, such as Australia, might be honest brokers in this peace process. We might keep the dream of peace alive and help set out an agenda, a step-by-step process.
Postscript: 7 July 2006
Juan Cole comments on Israel policy and the significance of the ongoing Jewish-Palistinian conflict.
STORM IN THE CLOUDS July 6, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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There would be no questions if the US was testing rockets by firing them into the Pacific Ocean, which I assume they do from time to time.
The situation is very different for North Korea. For one thing it is a more congested neighbourhood. For another the neighbours are very suspicious of the intentions of the North Korean Government.
While their actions do not seem to me to be politic, or even diplomatic, they doubtless claim the right to self defence, and much like the Americans to act unilaterally. Still it seems they rely on their compatriots in South Korea for vital food supplies making them susceptible to influence.
I am wondering how the fireworks show is playing in Beijing. So far they have refused to condemn the missile testing.
Postscript: 7 July 2006
It was not necessary to have any expert knowledge not to be suprised by this development as suggested by the BBC.
HICKS IN LIMBO July 5, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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On what legal basis are the Americans now holding David Hicks and others at Guantanamo Bay? How is enemy combatant to be defined? And how is the battlefield to be defined?
The “war on terror” is transparent fiction, however described. The invasion and occupation of Iraq, aside from strategic intention is another matter entirely, although in its execution is has become counter-productive. The American Republic makes the very sensible requirement that the Congress has the power to declare wars, and they cannot be decided by the royal prerogative, as occurs at Westminister and it derivatives. In my opinion, wars are essentially moral judgments as to their justness or otherwise, and such judgments should be made by the parliamentary representatives in a democracy.
On the other hand, I do not consider it the business of politicians to be making legal judgments as to quilt, as Prime Minister Howard and Foreign Minister Downer are seemingly and effectively doing in the case of Hicks by their failure to have him repatriated and leaving in the legal limbo of Guantanamo following the US Supreme Court decision. There behavior is in contrast to the British. As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, Hicks wrote to the Prime Minister to say that once returned he engage in a “quiet and uneventful” life back in his homeland. He received no reply. Downer was reported as saying that Hicks would not be let back here unless he had “a trial of some sort”, which may now take some time to organize if he remains at Guantanamo.
Howard and Downer, with respect to the Hicks case, are it seems not to be prevailed upon, raising the question as to their purpose and motivation. Their reasons are implied but not stated. For example, do they judge that his training has made him so dangerous as to be not a fit person to join Australian society. If that were the belief, the existing laws should be sufficient. I suspect that after his experience of incarceration and torture from the Americans he will have some trouble returning to civil life, and may have been irreparably damaged and institutionalized, intensified by his extended stay at the behest of Howard and Downer, among others.
LIVING LATIN July 5, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Economic unions and federations are always difficult, as we have almost daily reminders in Australia, but the issue of the multiplicity of languages as in the case of the European Union is not often taken into consideration. In comparison the adoption of a common currency, with one recalcitrant, was an achievement of a lower order. The revolving presidency is a mechanism for new ideas and approaches to keep alive the spirit of innovation.
The European Union has 20 official languages, so to reduce that number to one language, Latin would prima facie make sense. In a report carried by The Sydney Morning Herald, from The Guardian, we are told that:
Finland, which is running the EU for the next six months, is to publish weekly news bulletins in Latin on an EU website. Leaders of the Unio Europaea, who have had a wretched year grappling with the Constitutio Europaea, will be reaching for their dictionaries at their next shindig in Bruxellae.
The EU’s notorious jargon turns into poetry when translated into Latin. The miserable Common Agricultural Policy becomes the majestic ratio communis agros colendi, which literally means “common scheme for cultivating the fields”.
As Dr Bruce Gibson, from Liverpool University, says ” Latin still provides a common linguistic and cultural heritage to Europe . . .”
Whatever the efficiency and poetry of adopting Latin, much is lost from potentially diminishing the standing of the other twenty. What would the Turks make of Latin? In that case it might be a barrier to entry.
English, of course, is not without its Latin influences. For example “spatial”, derived from the Latin “spatium” is I am brusquely told today pronounced in English as “spacial”, which does not seem to follow from the Latin rules for pronunciation of “T”. The pronunciation is confirmed by Mirriam-Webster, but I wonder about the explanation?
“Spatial” has followed it seems the same linguistic path and development as “essential”. Mirriam-Webster notes the etymology of space is: “Middle English, from Old French espace, from Latin spatium area, room, interval of space or time”, and that of essential is:”Middle English, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, from Latin essentia, from esse to be.” Hence the pronunciation of spatial and essential. Or something like that.
I am guessing that most of the 20 modern European languages have derivatives from Latin and Greek. It is their medieval heritage.
THE FOURTH OF JULY July 3, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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John Adams, according to Wikipedia, wrote to his wife, Abigail that:
- The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
There was a decisive vote(12-0) for independence from Britain on the second of July. On the fourth of July the Continental Congress voted for the Declaration of Independence, and the day in which the public, or at least the citizens of Philadelphia were informed.
All of which is news to me. Whatever their faults, the leaders of the American Revolt had the courage of their convictions. While Washington was not the richest man in the colonies, he was nevertheless a rich one, and made it plain to the people on his tours through New England he was, in the best sense, not for cutting and running.
So what is the significance of Jefferson’s prose, as amended by the Continental Congress for the United States and the world? Jefferson said many things including that “all men are created equal”. James Carroll argues that this is the central proposition of the Constitution and the nation, and that it is an ideal never achieved, but always a source of aspiration.
Maybe. I would be more impressed if the processes of democracy were more central. Starting with a fair electoral system that offered choice, other than between the rich of one stamp and the rich of another stamp, and equal access.
The American Dream has become something else. Perhaps in the time of the endless war on terror, it may have become a nightmare. Paradoxically, those who have the inherited responsibility to up the Declaration should remember the courage of its founders.
Tom Peters recommends David McCullough’s 1776—”you really must; it’s a page turner, and it illustrates what a close-run thing the independence endeavor was.” Kevin Drum provides an example of the “illuminations” recommended by John Adams. Brad DeLong quotes Frederick Douglas in 1852.
RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM July 2, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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As social persons we are I suppose designed to work best in small groups. The template, I suppose, may have been set in the formative time when our ancestors were hunters and gathers. Our ancestors presumably lived in extended families.
The New York Times reports that:
There is a new installment in the annals of loneliness. Americans are not only lacking in bowling partners, now they’re lacking in people to tell their deepest, darkest secrets. They’ve hunkered down even more, their inner circle often contracting until it includes only family, only a spouse or, at worst, no one.
And that is something the Internet may help ease, but is unlikely to cure.
For good and ill, it seems to me that the workplace is a major source of social connections, and when these are severed, as the Government has just made more possible through its No Work Choices industrial relations legislation. The cowboy culture of rugged individualism seems very detrimental to human beings, but good for profits perhaps.
I suppose the decline of unionism has to do with deindustrialization due to two reasons the offshoring of jobs to cheaper wage countries and the introduction of labor saving technology. It is an apparent paradox that we have a skills shortage. The logic of computer technology appears to be creating a society of deep social division.
I am interested by the fact that membership of all political parties has declined precipitously over the past twenty to thirty years.
There will always be a number of explanations for social developments, including conspiracy theories. Perhaps progress is an illusion. We might have been better off doing what we most suited for, and stayed as hunters and gatherers? After all, I suppose it is not just necessity, but unhappiness, that drives social change.
Postscript: 5 July 2006.
Herbert Hoover, sometime before Barry Goldwater, proclaimed the virtues of rugged individualism on 22 October 1932.