Monday, 21 June 2010

On this whole Boyfriend Thing business

Happiness is trapped
'tween the wall and the Woman
who steals the blankets.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Know your heroes - Robert Kenneth Nicol

Another in a continuing series - Robert Kenneth Nicol, 1896-1918.

In August 1918, a group of Dunsterforce men, led by Captain Stanley Savige, decided to protect a ragged column of 70,000 Assyrian refugees, 24 kilometres long.

The band of nine included two New Zealanders, Captain Nicol and Sergeant Alexander Nimmo from the Otago Battalion.

The refugees were trying to move 1000 kilometres from Urmia in Persia (Iran) to the plains of the Diala River, near Baghdad.

"Large bodies of Turkish troops and Kurdish irregulars were raiding the column, murdering the people and carrying off girls to their harems, together with whatever loot they could lay their hands on," Captain Savige wrote in his dairy.

Outnumbered by 100 to one, the men guarded the column from the rear. At the village of Aydisheh on August 5, Captain Nicol moved forward to help control some unruly mules carrying ammunition.

His nephew Lindsay Grigg, 82, a retired surgeon from Canberra, researched the story.

"Three men were attacked from the rear and sides. Captain Nicol went to give support, and caught up with Nimmo from the Otago Regiment," he said.

"He sent Nimmo forward to collect the ammo, said, `Give me your rifle' and gave covering fire. He stood up and was immediately killed. Two sergeants tried to get him. Both had their mounts shot out from under them, but crawled to safety. One of them was almost certainty Nimmo."

Captain's Nicol's body was never recovered. He was 21.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Parody or reality?

From "My Right Wing Dad":

Ten Basic Principals for Conservatives

1. Obama is president in name only. He is not an American citizen. His color is not the issue. Colored people have rights too. They can be president but they have to be born here. Negroes should be thankful that slavery brought their ancestors here so that they could become American citizens. Obama is not American, so he has no right to be president and he is a socialist and should be impeached.

2. Taxes are what kill this country. We pay taxes and where does the money go? To the government, that’s where. And government can’t do anything right. Besides tax money is spent, spent, spent on entitlement programs for moochers, like welfare and food stamps for people who won’t work for a living.

3. Illegal aliens will bring America down. They come here and have kids and think they can become like us. But they can’t because they are illegal. That means they are breaking the law by being here. They mooch off us and take our tax money and commit crimes and put a burden on all law-abiding Americans. There is one solution: round them up and send them back and seal off our borders. If they have kids here, send them back too. A few massive deportations will send the message that they are not wanted here.

4. There is no such thing as good government. Government can’t do things right. Government should be very small and very powerless. Except for the military which has to be the best in the world to defend our freedoms.

5. America is the best country in the world. Period. No other country comes close. We saved the world in two world wars and we kick ass if anyone tries to mess with us. Europeans are weenies. They expect an easy life and handouts from their government. They should stand up for themselves.

6. Terrorists or anyone who coddles them should be rounded up. Killed, if possible, but at least rounded up and kept in Guantanimo. Use whatever techniques are necessary to get the bastards to talk. I don’t care if you pull their teeth one at a time or chop off a few fingers. Damn it, they are less than human and don’t deserve any rights. And isn’t it interesting that terrorists are muslims? Names like Abdulla and Mohammed and Achmed. You never hear of a terrorist named Jim or Bill. Their religion is a terrorist religion, so they are all the same. They are trying to destroy America and with it our Christian religion.

7. Socialism is bad. Period. It’s like communism, only worse. It makes people dependent and no one will work under socialism. People need incentive to work and make money otherwise they will mooch off the rest of us. So if you think socialism is such a good idea look what happened to the Nazis when they tried it. And the Russians too.

8. Enough about these “gay” people. They are homosexuals and that is a sin. No doubt about it they will go after our kids if you let them. And they should not be in the military. Who wants to serve next to some fag who is looking to satisfy his perverted desires? They should all stop parading around flaunting that they are degenerites.

9. Liberals are worse than dirt. All they want is to give money to “poor people” but we know that really means take money from me and you and give it to those who don’t work for it. And liberals love the homosexuals. And they are all in charge of TV and the movies. They are both against America and the freedoms we stand for.

10. Guns are our only protection against the liberals and the socialists. That’s why they don’t like us having guns. They know that if we have guns they can’t take what we have. If any liberal shows up on my front porch looking for my cash he will be sprouting wings and a harp real quick.

If you believe in these principals, send this to everyone you know. We need to take America back from the socialists and the communists. If you don’t send this, you are just like the socialists and the communists. Stand up for America NOW before its too late!

Now, this lies on the cusp between parody and reality. From what I've seen in literally *decades* on the Internet, these are roughly what American wingnuts believe - even if they tend to be more subtle in expressing them. I'm not kidding - I've seen the "Negroes should be thankful that slavery brought their ancestors here so that they could become American citizens" argument used non-ironically by a wingnut. If you read their rants with a clinical fascination, just these sorts of beliefs bleed through.

The consensus on MRWD is that it's probably a parody - but only because, apart from the (deliberate?) spelling error in the title, it's well written. Make your own mind up - and keep the list in mind as a score sheet when reading wingnuts.

Monday, 15 February 2010


As Trish says, this guy has way, way too much time on his hands.

u can has bukkit, (331)
no can has water,
ha ha no can has bukkit,
just rock and sand.
no stand, no sit,
no shirt, no shoes, no service,
just thunder shaking moutainzes.
no can has water.
no can has water.
actually, no can has rock either.
no can has water or rock,
or for that matter sand.

ceiling cat is watching you masturbate (360)
u and ur dirty friend.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

On class inequality and the future of America

There are three recent observations which need to be considered.

Firstly, this:

Inequality in the US is now reaching (or even surpassing) that of the Gilded Age.

Secondly, what happened then?

Early next week, my new book It Could Happen Here will be released by HarperCollins. The book is an in-depth look , based on a historical analysis, of the implications of our historically high levels of economic inequality for the nation’s ultimate, long-term political stability. As economic inequality grows, nations invariably become increasingly politically unstable: Should we complacently believe that America will be different?

A central conclusion of the book is that once economic inequality reaches a self-reinforcing cycle it is halted only by inevitably controversial, hard-fought, bitterly opposed government action. Senator Jim Webb encapsulated this idea, when he wrote in his book, A Time to Fight: Reclaiming A Fair and Just America:

“No aristocracy in history has decided to give up any portion of its power willingly.”

In 1928, economic inequality was near today’s levels. Franklin Roosevelt succeeded in reversing the trend toward the continuing concentration of wealth, but it was a turbulent battle. In 1936, while campaigning for his second term and speaking at Madison Square Garden, FDR told the crowd:

“Never before in all our history have these forces [Organized Money] been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred.

Thirdly, there's one huge difference between FDR's time and current America - the present American political system is dysfunctional, and unable to handle any major economic or political reforms in the face of entrenched self-interest by powerful minorities.

Simply put, there is no chance of a new New Deal. It's not going to happen. The populist swell is being captured by the Teabaggers, who are useful idiots lead by the coporations and lobbyists funding them to work against the interests of the middle- and working-classes; the Republicans are corporate whores busy sticking spanners in the works whenever they can; and the Democrats are a collection of corporate whores and ineffective blowhards who couldn't organise a piss-up with the Tui Brewery girls giving them instructions.

So where does that leave the US? I don't know, but it doesn't look good. The income equality appears to have surpassed 1927 - and is still accelerating, as seen in the recent recession. There's no room for political solutions. And populist anger is being co-opted by the right, helped by the general ignorance of the sort of people the Teabaggers appeal to and the apparent horror they have for any discussion which involves looking good and hard at income and classes in the US.

My guess is that the economic dysfunctionality will continue to deepen and hurt, but the rage it generates will be channelled towards warfare, scapegoating and still more authoritarian "solutions". Watch for Islam to be blamed for economic problems. If Obama is a one-term loser, as I suspect he will be, the next Republican President will probably be in line with Bush Jr, and the damage to the US irrevocable. I don't want to use the "f" word - but you can see the possibility looming. God knows how China or Europe will react.

Me, I'm going to go play Planetfall and pretend I never had this thought.

Monday, 25 January 2010

On the possibility of annual charity work.

Well, let's be more exact - I'm more interested in the entertainment value. But the Round The Bays event does help the Heart Foundation this year.

Over the last couple of years I've done this, and enjoyed it quite a lot. And I did a respectable time for a walker rather than a runner - getting some jogging in during the event.

I am currently healing fast, but limited at the moment to staggering for perhaps a dozen steps around the flat. Bugger.

I tell you, when this is all over, I am definitely going to take a couple of weeks off work and have my long-delayed actual vacation. and probably walk the half marathon route just to prove to myself I can do it.

Friday, 8 January 2010

On the desirability of massive retaliation

It's been nearly two months since my bosses ordered me out of the office in the hopes of recovery at home (that didn't go well, obviously).

So I have now reached the point where I can make it to the nearest busstop (slowly) and get around a bit on crutches outside, greatly increasing my independence. I don't have to rely on friends and family to get every little thing done for me. Hurts a fair bit to walk around any distance though, but between stoicism, sheer manly grit, and that sweet sweet morphine, I can cope.

Yesterday I took myself, my crutches and my horrible horrible beard - hey, I haven't mentioned the beard! It was impossible to sit up and shave while in hospital, and I now look much like Charlie Manson. Bushy untrimmed growth, wild staring eyes and uncertain personal hygiene. I was horribly surprised when part of it grew out grey. In my mind's eye, I resemble Tom Selleck of the Magnum PI days. My friends point out that my mind's eye is completely deluded.

Where was I? Oh yeah - yesterday I took myself, my crutches and my horrible horrible beard back to work to drop off some paperwork. I tried getting there late, but was still ambushed by cow-orkers who proceeded to embarass the hell out of me by pretending to be glad to see me, by being solicitious and opening doors for me, and by complimenting the face fungus.

I can't stand it. I'm going to have to shave it all off, and proceed to be as obnoxious as possible to these people in order to get my life back on its normal keel. Fear and loathing is more than just a book; it's my favourite workplace relationship mode. Besides, I've had people complain the new office is too quiet without me there.

But never mind - the weather is lovely, tomorrow is Saturday, and the bikinis are swarming on the beaches of Oriental Bay. I have no need to worry about work, and I have the perfect excuse to sit down and drool while watching - it's pain from the back, you know. That's my story and I shall stick to it.