Thursday, 13 August 2009

Post#139 Thoughts on Myanmar

Will the military dictatorship in Myanmar, Burma, if you prefer, survive? An interesting question, I think. I would have to say that Myanmar shows the very same structural factors that have served to weaken democracy in Pakistan on the other side of the Indian Subcontinent: it has a strong military tradition, a fairly weak civil society, and a fear of national disintegration. The situation in Myanmar is further complicated by a fear of outside intervention.

Remember, too, that the country did not gain its independence by the same political process at work in India and Pakistan. Rather, it emerged as a result of the war against Japanese occupation, involving local Burmese as well as Allied forces. This means that the significant leaders who emerged in 1945 all had a military rather than a civilian background. It's one of history's ironies that the greatest of these leaders, Aung San, the father of Aung San Suu Kyi, the voice of the democratic opposition, is also the iconic figure who has helped sustain the special place of the military in Burmese politics

This has also been supported, as I have said, by the relative weakness of civil society. During the days of British rule the native Burmese played very little part in managing day- to-day affairs, with administrators being recruited from among colonial Britons or Indians. Excluded from the civil service, the ethnic Burmese nevertheless formed an important part of the police and the army. Although an embryonic native middle-class was beginning to emerge in the course of the early twentieth century, it was almost completely wiped out in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Fear of national disintegration has roots in the early evolution of the Burmese state. In the two hundred years prior to the advent of the British in the 1820s, the Burmese kings had expanded their control out of the lowlands into areas inhabited by different ethnic and linguistic groups. The Shan, the Karen, the Arakanese, the Mon, the Chin, the Karenni and the Kachin, all non-Burmese speaking, now make up approximately one third of the total population, occupying two-thirds of the national territory. Fears that these centrifugal forces will destroy the integrity of the nation have been fuelled by the long-standing insurgencies of the Shan and the Karen. The opportunity this might provide for foreign intervention has strengthened the army's sense of paranoia, creating a siege mentality and a persistent mood of xenophobia amongst the generals. As far as the military is concerned it is they who are the guardians of the nation, the one guarantee that Myanmar/Burma will survive as a unitary state.


As a postscript to the above let me add a guilty admission and a recommendation, not that I have the least hope that anyone is listening!

A few years ago, after leaving school, but before going up to university, I took a gap year, an opportunity to travel to various places in the world, including south-east Asia. While there I visited Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. I also went to Myanmar, though I struggled with my conscience over that, mindful of the request by Aung San Suu Kyi for the world-large and small-to boycott the tyrants. She's a gallant and courageous lady, the leader of the opposition, the rightful leader of the country by democratic decision, the conscience of a nation; it's difficult to ignore her.

Look at the other side of the world, to Cuba. Here the vile Castro regime has been kept in power for so long I would say precisely because of the American boycott, not in spite of it. The one sure way of undermining Castro would have been to allow contacts of all kinds; tourist, cultural and commercial. He would no longer have been able by this process to have identified his Communist tyranny-as he has-with Cuban nationalism.

So, too, in the east the best way of opening up Myanmar to the prospect of change is for the west to abandon sanctions and boycotts. There is every sign-as The Economist has rightly pointed out-that the generals want to follow the same development path as China and Vietnam before them. Isolation has given them security, not legitimacy, and it is this they badly need. Economic development is likely to bring political development, which is likely to bring change. Aung Sun Suu Kyi is courageous, yes, but she is also wrong. There, I've said it!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Post#138 The Protocols of the Purveyors of Pap, or the Fraud of Global Warming!

I'm back, Retarius!

I’m a student of history, not a scientist. I’ll go further: science bores me. Still, it cannot be ignored; aspects of scientific ‘knowledge’ cannot be ignored. And the one aspect that has invaded my consciousness through multiple media, with all of the silent finesse of a Blitzkrieg, is the whole global warming argument

Let me just say to begin with that I always suspected there was something wrong with this, partly on the basis of an understanding of the historical record, and partly on the basis of simple intuition. You see global warming (GW), or climate change, to use a more exact expression, has been a fairly regular feature of human history: there have been quite significant ups and downs over time. Indeed, one period I call to mind is the early fourteenth century, when conditions were so bad that it is sometimes referred to as the ‘mini-ice age.’

The second level of suspicion, which I attribute to intuition, might be better described as instinct. The simple fact is I don’t like being preached at; I react against both the message and the messenger, whether it is that little clot Lawrence McGinty on ITV news, or that big clot Al Bore, and his relentless promotion of ManBearPig, his phantom terror (South Park fans will understand!) And if The Guardian and The Independent, those voices of the uni-dimensional, lead me to think in one way I invariably think in the other. But, of course, they, Super Obama-that socialist in socialist’s clothing-, Joker Brown and all the other promoters of GW have ‘science’ on their side; I only have instinct. Not any more; oh no, not any more. I am happy to declare that we have all been the victims of a massive conspiracy: the Protocols of the Purveyors of Pap!

For, you see, at last one scientist has had the courage to speak out against this phoney consensus-Professor Ian Plimer, an Australian geologist. His book, Heaven and Earth: Global Warming-the Missing Science, so frightened the liberal establishment that it was rejected by every mainstream publishing house in his native land. He had quite literally to go to the outback to find a small company courageous enough to take him on. The first print run sold out. Further editions followed, one hard upon the other, as the news spread. It’s now to be published in England and the States.

I don’t want to dwell on Plimer’s thesis at length but the chief elements are as follows. First, the GW model is based on the narrowest of explanatory frameworks, with data drawn from less than two hundred years. Second, and even more important, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere amounts to 0.001 of the total held in the environment. More than that, human activity accounts for a tiny amount of this tiny percentage. Oh, yes, there is one other thing about GW: it stopped over ten years ago. In the last two years global cooling has reversed some thirty years of temperature increase.

Serious attempts have been made to discredit Plimer by those wedded to the GW paradigm but the data, for once, speaks for itself. Measurements complied by the University of Huntsville in Alabama confirm that temperatures have fallen. In March Alan Carlin, an senior analyst for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US, produced a detailed report questioning the carbon dioxide argument upon which GW is based. The report was ignored on the grounds that it was too late to change the EPA’s official policy. No surprise, really. After all Super Obama needs some justification for the $7.4 trillion tax hike he intends to inflict on his fellow Americans as part of his environment bill.

And so it goes on with those committed to GW pushing all the way. A political battle is being fought out in Plimer’s Australia, where Kevin Rudd managed to have his own environment bill pushed through the lower house aimed at curbing CO2 emissions, curbs so drastic that they are likely to devastate the national economy, dependant as it is on coal. The Senate votes on the bill next month. Here opinion is so evenly divided that the whole measure is set to rise or fall on the casting vote of Stephen Fielding, an independent Senator. Given the importance of his vote Penny Wong, the climate change minister, agreed to see him in person. A series of questions were put about the GW data. The answers produced by the minister’s own scientific advisors were so unconvincing, so shot with errors and contradictions, that Fielding’s team produced a counter-response, published as Due Diligence, which tears the whole argument in pieces. The Senator has announced that he will be voting against Rudd’s bill.

I seriously hope that the Australian bill fails, but can anything be done to counter the momentum that GW has gathered across the world, promoted by the G 8 or the G 20 or however many clowns that can be gathered in one place for a spectacular junket, producing more carbon emissions-and hot air-than you and I in a lifetime? Alas, the prospects are not good. GW is the new doxy, uniting all sorts of vested interests, political, academic, institutional, broadcasting and publishing; uniting the American and British governments, on the one hand, and interest groups like the idiotic Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth on the other. Given time the paradigm may shift but only after horrendous damage has been inflicted on the western economy, to the benefit, I imagine, of political tyrannies like China.

I suppose I started writing this in a lightly ironic mood, suggesting the existence of a global conspiracy. I finish in a more sombre frame of mind because I now believe that such a conspiracy does exist, not one born of malice and design but of blindness and stupidity. Say no to Green Fascism; say no to the Copenhagen Treaty, say no to stealth taxes, say no to attempts to undermine our already fragile economy. Global Warming is a lie.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Post#137 Glorybaby (Glory Jagas), Happinesslove, Maldaline Yahaya, Lancy Mokan, Atonia and Edith Zaky [or Edith Zarky] ( African Email Scams)

Well, that title's cumbersome, but with good cause; it's to guide here any searcher who's encountered this character and wants the inside track. I posted before about the 419Eater site at my Post#89 "African Scam Babes" and this is the further story I promised about my correspondence with a scammer.

Several months ago, I listed my blog at Spicypage (This post has been in draft mode since October '08 and I long ago lost interest in Spicypage) just to see what it was about and whether there was any merit to using the site. I'm still not sure on that (I am now) but I did discover that there seem to be a lot of spammers targeting the site. My first message, other than from the site's welcome wagon, was titled "Hello dear", coming from a person using the handle "Glorybaby" and providing a Gmail address for GloryJagas. The message said that they'd seen my profile on the site (which was, apart from my handle, non-existent) and that they found me interesting and would like to get better acquainted. I was urged to send a message by email so that I could receive a photograph of this character. After this little ritual "we can get going!" promised the correspondent. The sign-off was that race and distance should be no obstacle to love. I used the options on the site to report this obvious come-on as spam and deleted it.

That would have been the lot, but an identical message turned up the next week using the handle "Lovehappiness" (or "Happinesslove; I can't remember now). This time I responded with a message to the correspondent through the Spicypage site, using "The Voice of Sweet Reason". I pointed out that there are many legitimate ways of making a profit through the Internet without engaging in unethical behaviour. I enquired as to what the spammer's motives were. I wasn't expecting this type to reform, I just wanted to see what the response might be. Nothing as it happens.

Then, next week, same message again, using the handle "Maldaline". This time I responded, "Why would I want a photograph of a spammer?"

The next week...same message from "Lancy" something-or-other. I left another Spicypage message saying, "Welcome back Glorybaby, Happinesslove, Maldaline, etc! Your nomenclatural innovations are most delightful but your pitch needs some work, sweetheart."

And the next week...same message from "Edith" - but with the added provisos that I must reply by email and not through the Spicypage site.

At this point I became somewhat irritated. This character not only wants to rip me off, they want me to be an obedient and submissive sap and get ripped off their way! Now any good con has to give the mark something approaching respect (before it shows its teeth) and this scammer wanted to be prescriptive from the word go. Okay, I'll give you something, bastard.

I created an email account in the name of "Bogus Maximus" (no kidding) and sent the message below:

From: Bogus Maximus
Sent: Friday, 3 October, 2008 2:20:51 PM
Subject: Your message at Spicypage

I read your message at Spicypage and here's my reply!

Promptly came this reply:

From:edith zaky
To: Bogus Maximus
Sent: Friday, 3 October, 2008 5:19:35 PM

Hello my love,
i am so happy in your mail to my mail.How was your day?,Mine is a little bit cold over here in Dakar Senegal.
My name is Edith from Ivory Coast in West Africa,5.4ft tall, dark in complexion,(never married before ) 23Yrs old and presently i am residing in the refugee camp here in Dakar as a result of the civil war that was fought in my country.My late father Dr Frederick Zarky was the managing director of Fredcocoa and Associates (Ltd) and he was the personal advicer to the former head of state (Late Dr Robert Guei) before the rebels attacked our house one early morning and killed my mother and my father in cold blood.It was only me that is alive now and I managed to make my way to a near by country Senegal where i am leaving now.I could like to know more about you.Attached here is my picture and I will send another picture in my next mail.I will also like to see your picture.
Hoping to hear from you soonest,

(Of course, the probability of the sender being female or looking remotely like these photographs is infinitesimal. As in x -> 0. However, for ease of writing, I won't bother putting inverted commas around "Edith" after this. I've reduced the photos for convenience and the slogan on the red t-shirt is now illegible. It says, "I'M AN ACTRESS Can I take your order?" This apparently is a joke about how most aspiring actresses have to support themselves. Ironic in the circumstances.)

My preferred option was to lure Edith into contributing to a blog which I could change from private to public once we'd finished exchanging confidences - it saves work copying emails. So:

From: Bogus Maximus
To: edith zaky
Sent: Monday, 6 October, 2008 1:05:20 PM

Hello Edith! I have sent you an email inviting you to join a private blog which only you and I can read! Please accept my invitation and send your photographs and messages to the blog. I look forward to hearing from you!!

And here is the second "script":

From: edith zaky
To: Bogus Maximus
Sent: Monday, 6 October, 2008 4:43:46 PM

Hello Dearest ,I am happy in your reply to my mail. How are you?, hope is alright, mine is a little bit boring.In this camp we are only allowed to go out from the camp only on Mondays and Fridays of the week, its just like one staying in the prison and i hope by Gods grace i will be free someday, i don't have any relative now whom i can go to, all my relatives ran away in the middle of the war, the only person i have now is Rev. Genadine Isaac who is the pastor of the (Kingdom's Assembly Int'l Churches) here in the camp, he has been very nice to me since i came here but i am not living with him rather i am leaving in the women's hostel because the camp have two hostels one for men the other for women. The Pastors Tel number is (+221761202124) if you call and tell him that you want to speak with me he will send for me in the hostel. As a refugee here i don't have any right or privileged to any thing be it money or whatever because it is against the law of this country, i want to go back to my studies because i only attended my first year before the tragic incident that lead to my being in this situation now took place..Please listen to this,i have my late father's statement of account and death certificate here with me which i will send to you latter,because when he was alive he deposited some amount of money in one the leading banks in Europe which he used my name as the next of kin,the amount in question is $5.7( Five Million seven Hundred Thousand US Dollars). So i will like you to help me transfer this money to your account and from it you can send some money for me to get my traveling documents and air ticket to come over to meet with you. I kept this secret from people in the camp here the only person that knows about it is the Reverend because he is like a father to me. So in the light of above i will like you to keep it to yourself and don't tell it to anyone for i am afraid of loosing my life and the money if people gets to know about it. Remember i am giving you all this information due to the trust i deposed on you, i like honest and understanding people and a man of vision, truth and hardworking, our main language is french but English is my favorite because i also speaks it fluently. Meanwhile i will like you to call me like i said i have a lot to tell you, have a nice day and think about me, awaiting to hear from you soonest,
Yours in love. Edith.

Love? Well, I grit my teeth over receiving protestations of love from a correspondent who is probably male and soldier on:

From: Bogus Maximus
To: edith zaky
Sent: Tuesday, 7 October, 2008 1:46:52 PM

Edith, I am puzzled by your answer. Please accept the invitation I have emailed you to use the blog to communicate. Email is dangerous because it is traceable. The blog is impossible for security agencies to track so it is best to use it to talk. Once you have signed on to the blog you will be able to see the messages I left you and you can leave your photos and messages there. Because of my position here I cannot risk communicating by email any longer. Please use the blog or I will not be able to help you.

Nice try, Retarius, but:

From: edith zaky
To: Bogus Maximus
Sent: Tuesday, 7 October, 2008 2:57:14 PM

My Dearest.How are you today, hope you are fine, dear i want to thank for all your effort and love towards me, you have given me hope and i will also like to see you face to face,i like you very much and i want you to know that before i contacted you i saw your profile that you matched mine and you are the type of man i am looking forward to spend the rest of my life with.I am not going to give your love to any other man you will satisfy me,so needless of looking for another man.

Please i have not told anyone except you and the Reverend about the existence of this money and i will like you to please keep it secret to other people because since it is (MONEY) all eyes will be on it.

Remember i trust you honey that is why i am giving you all this information!. My love is for you and you alone,i will like to hear your voice please,just call the Rev and tell him that you want to speak with me and he will send for me immediately.You can call the Reverend and ask him the best time to call me.His office phone no (00221-761202124)

I have informed the bank about my plans to claim this money and the only thing they told me is to look for a foreign partner who will stand on my behalf due to my refugee status and the laws of this country.You will have 15% of the total money for helping me and the remaining money will be managed by you in any business of your choice while i go back to my studies. In this regards iwill like you to contact the bank immediately with this information below,tell them that you are my foreign partner and that you want to know the possibilities of assisting me transfer my 5.7 million dollars deposited by my late father which i am the next of kin to your account in your country.

The contact information of the bank are as follows,

Royal Bank Of Scotland PLC

Email address


The name of the transfer officer is (Sir.Gilly Bafford).

Telephone number +44-702-4093-601 or +44-702-4094-117
Office Fax number+44-703-1941-816.

The Account Number Is (RBS-343I08701364-QB).

Contact them now on how to transfer the 5.7 milliondollars deposited by my late of which i am the next of kin.I have mapped out 15% for your assistanceMy dear iam glad that God has brought you to see me out from this situation and i promise to be kind and will equally need you in every area of my life including investing this money since iam still too young to manage it.

As i told you before,this camp is just like a prison and my prayers is to move out from here as soon as possible.Please make sure that you contact the bank so that after the transfer you can send some money from that money for me to prepare my traveling documents to meet with you in your country.I will send you another picture latter when i know your mind about this.Awaiting to hear from you soonest!.Yours forever in love,Edith.

As the regulars at the 419Eater site know, it's hard to break through to the consciousness of the scammer and persuade them to respond to what you are actually writing. Another try:

From: Bogus Maximus
To: edith zaky
Sent: Thursday, 9 October, 2008 1:39:03 PM
Subject: Your predicament

Edith, I don't wish to take any of your money. I will be very glad to help you with no reward other than the satisfaction of doing a favour for a genuine lady. But, I regret, I cannot proceed to help you by any means of communication other than the secret blog that I have invited you to join. Please access the blog and I will begin to make arrangements with you for your escape to Australia.

Further, I recommend that you do not trust that Reverend gentleman. I believe that he is actually not your friend and is conspiring with the government of Cote D'Ivoire to steal your inheritance.

Looks like success:

From: edith zaky Saturday, 11 October, 2008 6:10:13 PM
To: Bogus Maximus
Sent: Saturday, 11 October, 2008 6:10:13 PM

Hello my sweeth daerling Maximus ,honey good morning to you and please how are you today hope you are fine and please how is your family hope thrir alright thank God for that as for me am not fine honey here is too hort to me please help me out.My love i saw your mail just now and m so much happy about it and i also understand you well . Honey please how about the bank ? have you write to them as i told you in my last mail please my love if no please try to mail them today so that they will tell you how to transfer the money please .See honey i told the bank every thing about you all you need to do is to send them mail and you tell them that you are my partner that you want to no the possibilities of this transfer and i believe with this they will understand you better and please do let me no as soon as you write to them ok thank you and kisssss to you bye .Your's sweeth baby Edzak .

Still trying for the blog..the lies are becoming wilder:

From: Bogus Maximus
To: edith zaky
Sent: Sunday, 12 October, 2008 3:01:05 PM
Subject: Your escape to Australia...

Edith, I am concerned that you are under coercion and are not able to communicate freely. If you are able to deal freely, please accept the invitation to the blog. I have placed your emails there but I need you to load your photographs to the blog directly. I cannot help you unless you do this. For reasons of security I cannot go into more detail through email but if you sign onto the blog all will be explained.

Is he off the hook?

From: Bogus Maximus Monday, 20 October, 2008 3:16:50 PM
To: edith zaky
Sent: Monday, 20 October, 2008 3:16:50 PM
Subject: Why no response?...

Edith, I'm concerned. Has something happened to you? Why don't you respond to my invitation? I can help you.

To:Bogus Maximus
From: edith zaky
Sent: Tuesday, 21 October, 2008 9:03:20 PM

Hello my rising sun,How are you doing today ? i hope that you are fine please darling i got your mail and i am very happy to read from you again since my last mail to you we have been without electric light and that is why you haven't heared from me again.Please its likely that i am disturbing you but you have to bear with me because when i try to think about something else i can't help my self i start thinking about you. you know they say that time heals every wound but i think not love and hunger , Ilove you and i am hungry of you.Now darling i will also like to know if you have confirmed from the bank or not please try to write or call them and know if i am telling you the truth or not.i love you today, i love you tomorrow and i will love you forever.yours ever Edith

Today, tomorrow and forever...I shall despise you. But my creative writing impulse had taken hold, so - the grand flourish. Also known as "friends in high places".

From: Bogus Maximus
To: edith zaky
Sent: Thursday, 23 October, 2008 5:41:07 PM
Subject: Consular assistance...

Edith, I am very glad that you are able to make contact.I have arranged for the Australian consular staff in Senegal to assist you in leaving the country and retrieving your funds. My friend, Stephen Smith, the Australian Foreign Minister, has told me that your application for refugee status and resettlement in Australia will be given very favourable treatment.However, there is a slight difficulty. You have not identified the location of the camp you are in. Please provide this information so that the Australian officials can visit you and begin the process of liberating you from the camp. Be careful not to discuss this with others in the camp. There are people in such places who will attempt to extort money from you in order to facilitate your departure.There is some sort of firewall problem preventing the transmission of the photgraphs you have sent by email. Please upload them to the blog I told you about in my previous messages. I will forward them to the diplomatic staff so that they will be able to recognise you. This will prevent any imposture by others.

Yes, I'm so solicitous for poor, sweet Edith. And then look what the ungrateful bitch writes:

To: Bogus Maximus
From: edith zaky
Sent: Saturday, 25 October, 2008 8:02:53 PM
Subject: Transfer of Funds...

Hello My dear,
how are you doing at this weekend?, hope you are doing alright, darling thanks for your mail and your suggestion on how i will be freed by your foreign afairs diplomats, i appreciate your efforts but i don't think is safe for me, i am here and i know what happends here, you don't understand the situation here, please i don't want to be a problem to any person or a group of people and that is why i told you to first of help me to transfer my late fathers money from which you can send me some money to get the valid documents, i don't want to an ubject of pity, no matter my condition, again i don't want you to futher discuss my issue with any person here in Africa, my life is very much of important to me, now if you really want to help me, i want you to tell me so that we can continue with the transfer, if not, i will know my next steps, have a nice weekend as i am hopping to hear from you soonest, yours,

Next steps? He's definitely being too overbearing. Let's throw down the gauntlet:

From: Bogus Maximus
To: edith zaky
Sent: Sunday, 26 October, 2008 3:44:44 PM
Subject: Transfer of Funds

Edith, I am increasingly puzzled by your responses to my messages. I appreciate that there are significant cultural differences between us and I have not seen fit to comment upon your expressions of affection and trust towards me. They are somewhat surprising in that I am a complete stranger to you. To an Australian this seems rather disproportionate to our relationship.

Because of my position in the Western Australian government I must use a nonsense pseudonym and common email account to correspond with you. I could not contemplate identifying myself because of the difficulty it could create. I am a senior official in the office of a prominent Minister of the Crown in this State. I have offered to assist you in escaping from Senegal by exercising what would be considered by some to be improper influence through a personal contact in the Federal government of Australia.

I don't regard you as pitiable; you have a serious problem; you have reached to me for help and I am able to render it if you will accept my advice. What is the use of sending me money? Your liberation could be effected within 24 hours without any Australian being paid a penny. I also could not contemplate receiving any payment from you because it would create a serious scandal if the matter became public.

Please reconsider your position. If you refuse I will, regretfully, have to conclude that you are acting under duress or that your story is simply not

Four days without reply...he's off the hook. Damn. Well, now for the coup de disgrace:

From: Bogus Maximus
To: edith zaky
Sent:Thursday, 30 October, 2008 2:46:19 PM
Subject: Royal Bank of Scotland Account CLEANED OUT!!...

Greetin's mugu!!! You has bin had mah fraynd. Yays, you has been corryspondin' wid de Bogus Maximus. Ahnd he is a verra wicked fella dat Bogus. He lahks to tell lies in de email and get de poor scambaiters all vexated, mah mon!

Now, really, you should know a phony when you meet one. Your 4-1-9 advance fee scam is not one of the more sophisticated, but, lacking in imagination as you appear to be, you still might think it strange to find a friend of the Australian Foreign Minister offering to save little "Edith" from the terrible conspirators.Thanks to your efforts in responding to my messages Interpol are now in the process of tracing your emails to their transmission site. Impossible? A bluff? Well, you'll find out soon enough if you keep using that Internet cafe.

No reply. With that subject line I'll bet he read it. Was he discouraged? Perhaps I made him a little uneasy about using that Internet cafe. I certainly wasted some of his time and got him to think about what he was writing instead of simply copying and pasting scripts. Along the way I searched for the other names on the Spicypage messages. I turned up "Edith Zarky", "GloryJagas", "Lancy Mokan" and found, in related links the name "Atonia", apparently another alias. Then there's "Maldaline Yahaya" whom you can see "a picture of" at this page at Once you open the door to this world of utter falsity you find an infinitely-recurring pattern. In my estimate, Stop-Scammers is itself a scam. It has a monthly registration fee, registration is required to access anything past the front pages and it carries Googleads for the very kind of sites that are most scam-infested , E.g. "Russian Women" etc... I left a message on their guestbook calling them on it and saying, "What a great scam...let the scam-suckers provide you with site content to attract other suckers and get them to pay for the privilege of reading each others' cautionary tales". Strange it is that their Guestbook Moderator did not choose to publish my comment. Far better is the 419eater site which I commend, if only for some bloody entertaining reads. Check out their "Main Scambaiting Forum".

Also you can look at this and make your own conclusions..Maybe this site is on the level...but why run ads for dating services on a site about dating scams? It's not as though they look exceptionally ethical.

There is an ancient proverb which tells us that a fool and his money are soon parted. Another says that there is no coming between fools and their follies. In Australia it is held of old that "You should never argue with a mug". (Or a mugu perhaps.) True as these are, I can't help being provoked by the scum who are luring the fools. Behind the cons is the depressing fact of the enormous and desperate loneliness of so many millions. There is no laughter in that.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Post#136 The Stern Gang of One (Stern Hu, Malcolm Turnbull and the Chinese Espionage Allegation)

Kevin Rudd knows better than anyone else that he has only so much credit with the Chinese government. The arrest in China of Stern Hu, an Australian Chinese man has prompted Malcolm Turnbull to suggest that Rudd should be taking robust action and exploiting his Chinese connections to the full. This is the last proof I need that Turnbull is just saying any damned stupid thing that pops into his head. If an aggressive approach was tried and failed, there would be no prospect of reversing and successfully engaging in quiet reason. If Turnbull is really concerned for Hu's welfare he should subside and let Rudd pick his way through this minefield without jogging his elbow.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Post#135 Michael Joins Elvis

Okay, so Michael Jackson is dead. I believe you, already. When Elvis died in 1977 I heard a good line from a friend who was still attending the school which I had recently left. A teacher, who was renowned for his vicious humour, had called my friend's class to order and announced in a mock-solemn tone: "Elvis Presley has died...and now we are all going to go through Purgatory."

Nor was he wrong. And after the post-mortem eruption of Elvis-mania he stayed at a higher level of public profile than he had experienced before death. The impersonators came out in their white jumpsuits and the legend of his non-death began. I can't remember how soon the Elvis sightings began after his death (alright, alleged death - you happy now?) but I do recollect that they coincided in their early phase with the reports of a character called "Lizard Man". In the 70s all sorts of weird apparitions were being reported from the southern USA and this reptilian pedestrian was seen promenading along several highways. (This isn't the more recent Lizard Man of the late 80s, this is an earlier Lizard Man.) Elvis and Lizard man were reported (probably not by a person expecting to be believed) to be walking along the roadside together on one occasion.

I doubt that Michael Jackson will generate a resurrection mythology, although it was suggested by the rumour-mill that his death would prove to be a publicity stunt for his tour. It's a conspiracy which would require so many conspirators by now that the idea is untenable. If he did leap from the coffin at the wake, (singing "Thriller" of course) he'd probably regret it. The suckers would not be happy, to say the least.

Way back when he really was revered a commentator said that he feared that one day Jackson would "awake to a terrible silence". Well, that never happened. When his music faded the scandals and weirdness kept him in the public eye. Now that he is safely dead the reconstruction of his legacy is being pushed along. I heard a speech being made by someone over the radio who was insisting; "He belonged to us - this blaaack maaan!!! We shared him with everybody else." The audience shrieked their approval.

This is really the limit; if Jackson is famous for anything it is the renunciation of his racial identity by mutilation and poisoning of his body. Elvis also carved out a niche in history for his self-destructive behaviour. The Channel 10 TV network has recently been using the excruciating Elvis movies as a filler before their Sunday evening news and I was amazed to see Elvis looking healthy and slim in a 1968 production. I hadn't realised how quickly he had gone downhill and I'm curious about how recently before his death he had become the bloated, dissipated mess of 1977.

I didn't feel devastated when either of them died. I was very sad when Pavarotti went and gutted by the demise of Steve Irwin...but Elvis and Michael didn't bring me grief when they left us. I wondered what I really thought of either of them and concluded that my response was simply pity. All that money, all that hullabaloo and a miserable untimely death. Both had obviously been surrounded by a coterie of people who said "yes" to them. What a powerful and poisonous evil sycophancy is.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Post#134 A Brief Reflection on Trolls

No, not that kind; the real ones!

I first came across the race of trolls in the Norwegian folk-tales of Asbjørnsen and Moe. Beguiling they can be, ugly they certainly are, scheming they try to be; intelligent they most assuredly are not! These creatures, the creatures of the kind of popular tales that began to emerge in the Romantic era, are but a dim reflection of the trolls of more ancient traditions, who were altogether more demonic. But, in the end, I suppose they are all really quite boring; for, as Oscar Wilde says, ogres have limited conversation, bears, one suspects, of very little brain. :))

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Post#133 PMP

It really amuses me the way in which some people resort to jargon, not occasionally, but continuously. I’m thinking specifically here of ‘lol’. Yes, it’s OK now and again, but you know, I know, most sensible people know that when it appears, as it does in discussions on social networks, that the person in question could not possibly be ‘laughing out loud’ again and again and again. More than that, it often follows a remark, or an observation, that is not in the least bit funny.

Oh, I’m a rebel; I’ve always been a rebel; when the shoal swims one way I invariably swim the other. I’ve stopped using lol altogether, both in social networks and in texting. I would like to invent my own personal jargon. Hmm, what shall I use when I find something particularly funny? Yes, I’ve got it; it shall be Pissing my Panties, or pmp for short. I like that. The trouble is, though, I shall have to be economical in application. Nobody could possibly believe that my bladder has an unlimited capacity.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Post#132 The Power of Seven

Have you read Tristram Shandy, Laurence Stern's roller-coaster of a novel? If you have you may recall the conversation between Dr Slop and Uncle Toby on the significance of the number seven: the seven sacraments, the seven days of the week, the seven deadly sins, the seven wonders of the world, the seven planets and the seven plagues.

Is there magic in the number seven? Perhaps there is. I've certainly been told that seventh children have extraordinary powers, though I've been unable to verify this, never having met a seventh child. :-)

Friday, 26 June 2009

Post#131 The Great Kings and The Grech Who Stole Ute-Gate

In the past week mayhem and havoc have been wracking several parts of the world, as usual. The most vivid image from the reportage is of the beautiful young woman dying on a Teheran street. This alone should be evidence enough to the people of any country that they are up the infamous creek.

Iran/Persia, call it how you please, was regarded once as the home of a great civilisation. That was three thousand years ago. Of course, that type of greatness wasn't about democracy and the value of human life wasn't significant in measuring the worth of ancient states. If someone had said "human rights" to one of the Great Kings of Persia the hearer would have been bewildered...until it occurred to him that it must describe his proprietory rights over the human inhabitants of his kingdom; in a similar vein to "water rights", "land rights" and "tribute rights". Among the "human rights" of the Great King would have been the right to dispose of human life as he pleased. In that sense, depending upon one's perception of it, no progress has been made in Iran or the traditional standards have been maintained. I have no special insight into what the average Achmed in the streets of Iran desires in his innermost heart, but I don't think the majority of his type would mind a departure from this ancient custom. The crowds who are demonstrating are being played for fools by the "reformer" candidate and his sponsors, but their desire for freedom is no less genuine. What a precious jewel a genuine electoral franchise must seem to them; the right to cast a vote and have it honestly counted. An aspiration to die for...

And what was the great news here in the Magic Islands of Australia this past week? The dispute about the ute. Our Prime Minister has been accused of helping a car dealer of his acquaintance to
obtain special access to the application process for financial assistance. The car-dealer has made a gift of a utility sedan to the PM and is alleged to have received special favour as quid pro quo. In the course of this tiresome saga a wriggling, writhing bureaucrat was trawled up in the net of a Senate committee hearing. Godwin Grech (pronounced "Gretch" apparently) gave a very good impersonation of Woody Allen doing his neurotic nerd schtick and appeared to have given the Coalition some ammo to use against the Government. It has all gone wrong for the boys in Conservative blue, with Grech now appearing to be securely in the clutches of the Federal Police for forging the "incriminating" evidence. I won't dwell on this story in particular..the details can be Googled easily enough if anyone wants to search "Rudd, Grant, ute, Grech". The story is known as "Ute-gate" and the collapse of the scandal upon its proponents is well-addressed in many sources.

What I'm most interested by is the triviality of the matters that a mature democracy is occupying its public fora with. The wars we are engaged in are not remotely won, the economic crisis is not past, the serious administrative challenges that confront government have not all been resolved. The media (yeah, let's blame them) find it easier to cover these scandal yarns than to grapple with the complex matters, but does the average Adam in our street really want to hear it? When I heard Malcolm Turnbull call for Rudd's resignation over Ute-gate I thought, "Oh for the love of...." I think the triteness of these tactics and the triviality of the confected "issues" play a large role in why fewer people are voting, despite the statutory requirement to do so. The "draft dodgers" who don't register and the enrolled electors who abstain would amaze those Iranians who are getting their heads kicked in for sake of having a real vote. But could they keep a revolutionary fire burning after 100 years of this sort of performance?

Well, let poesie have a try where prose is puzzled:

Godwin Grech, the woeful wretch,
Gave Malcolm Turnbull cause to kvetch.

But when the forgery was found
Malcolm's glee was quickly drowned.

The people wonder what's to boot
In all this yarn about a ute.

Can we not find a better use
For the right to speak
Without they shoot?

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Post#130 Reading Clive James

A few weeks ago, while watching part of a poetry season being screened by the BBC in England, I came across Clive James, a writer and a broadcaster, being interviewed on the American poet, E. E. Cummings, while reading some of his own poetry. I was so impressed by what he was saying that I wrote a piece on my Ana the Imp blog, headed Serendipity: Discovering Clive James.

As part of the process of exploration I acquired one of his books, Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of my Time. It’s a series of essays on all sorts of people, artists, poets, musicians, writers, politicians, all sorts of people; some noble, some who have made significant contributions to human understanding; others, well, vile. As I said in Serendipity, I never thought to find Anna Akhmatova and Josef Goebbels between the same covers!

When I say essays I should make it clear that while each piece is headed by the name of the individual involved, with some biographical details by way of introduction, what follows is really subtle, as the author explores thoughts within thoughts and themes within themes, most often on the basis of a preliminary quotation. As much as anything it’s an odyssey through the James’own life, with dissertations on the things and the people that have moved or influenced him in one way or another. It’s impressive; the range of his thought is impressive. His maze-like mind reminded me of my own; of the way I think and the way I deconstruct, disassemble and reassemble ideas!

At one point James describes himself as a product of the Australian educational system. He was born in 1939, so he’s clearly talking about the style of teaching going back, oh, some fifty years. I really hope, without too much exaggeration, that if Clive James is a typical product that the Australian educational system has not changed too much. Sadly, given my cultural pessimism, I suspect that this is not at all the case. :-))

Post#129 It's Glow-ball War, Ming!! (Ian Plimer's Attack on Climate Change Believers)

Ian Plimer's recently-published work, Heaven and Earth. Global warming: the missing science, has struck the first significant blow for the skeptics in Australia in a long while..perhaps just the first significant blow ever...I can't remember any skeptical Australian writing on the topic attracting the attention that has been given to this work.

There was a flurry of mobilisation from those who felt called-upon to defend the honour of "climate scientists" and a very interesting attack article appeared in the Weekend Australian. I'm reproducing it here in full because it struck me as a very effective piece of polemical writing, whatever else may be said about it:

"No science in Plimer's primer
Michael Ashley May 09, 2009

Article from: The Australian

Heaven and Earth by Ian Plimer (Connor Court, 503pp, $39.95)

ONE of the peculiar things about being an astronomer is that you receive, from time to time, monographs on topics such as "a new theory of the electric universe", or "Einstein was wrong", or "the moon landings were a hoax".

The writings are always earnest, often involve conspiracy theories and are scientifically worthless.One such document that arrived last week was Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth. What makes this case unusual is that Plimer is a professor -- of mining geology -- at the University of Adelaide. If the subject were anything less serious than the future habitability of the planet Earth, I wouldn't go to the trouble of writing this review.

Plimer sets out to refute the scientific consensus that human emissions of CO2 have changed the climate. He states in his acknowledgments that the book evolved from a dinner in London with three young lawyers who believed the consensus. As Plimer writes: "Although these three had more than adequate intellectual material to destroy the popular paradigm, they had neither the scientific knowledge nor the scientific training to pull it apart stitch by stitch. This was done at dinner."

This is a remarkable claim. If Plimer is right and he is able to show that the work of literally thousands of oceanographers, solar physicists, biologists, atmospheric scientists, geologists, and snow and ice researchers during the past 100 years is fundamentally flawed, then it would rank as one of the greatest discoveries of the century and would almost certainly earn him a Nobel prize. This is the scale of Plimer's claim.

Before reading any further, I examined Plimer's publication list on the University of Adelaide website to see what he has published in refereed journals. There are a scant 17 such papers since 1994, two as first author with the titles "Manganoan garnet rocks associated with the Broken Hill Pb-Zn-Ag orebody" and "Kasolite from the British Empire Mine". Absolutely nothing on climate science.

Now, before I am accused of attacking the man and not the argument, let me point out that scientists regard peer-reviewed journal publications as fundamental for advancing science. They allow ideas to be exchanged, tested, improved on and, quite frequently, discarded. If Plimer can do what he claims, and can prove that human emissions of CO2 have no effect on the climate, then he owes it to the scientific community and, in fact, humanity, to publish his arguments in a refereed journal.

Perhaps we will find a stitch-by-stitch demolition of climate science in his book, as promised? No such luck. The arguments that Plimer advances in the 503 pages and 2311 footnotes in Heaven and Earth are nonsense. The book is largely a collection of contrarian ideas and conspiracy theories that are rife in the blogosphere. The writing is rambling and repetitive; the arguments flawed and illogical.

He recycles a graph, without attribution, from Martin Durkin's Great Global Warming Swindle documentary, neglecting even to make the changes that Durkin made following an outcry over the fact that the past two decades of temperature measurements had been mysteriously deleted.
Plimer claims that scientists such as himself, who do not agree with the consensus, are labelled deniers, "yet their scientific doubts are not addressed". Nothing could be further from the truth. All of Plimer's arguments have been addressed ad nauseam by patient climate scientists on websites or in the literature.

To appreciate the errors in Plimer's book you don't have to be a climate scientist. For example, take the measurement of the global average CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. This is obviously important, so scientists measure it with great care at many locations across the world.
Precision measurements have been made daily since 1958 at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, a mountain-top site with a clear airflow unaffected by local pollution. The data is in excellent agreement with ice cores from several sites in Antarctica and Greenland. Thousands of scientific papers have been written on the topic, hundreds of scientists are involved from many independent research groups.

Plimer, however, writes that a simple home experiment indoors can show that in a week, CO2 can vary by 75 parts per million by volume, equal to about 40 years' worth of change at the present rate. He thinks this "rings alarm bells" on the veracity of the Mauna Loa data, which shows a smoothly rising concentration.

While it is undoubtedly true that if you measure CO2 in your home it could vary by large amounts from day to day -- depending, for example, on whether you have the windows open or closed, or how many people are in the house at the time -- this is not the right way to measure a global average. That's why scientists go to mountain-tops or Antarctica or to the isolated Cape Grimm on the Tasmanian coast rather than measuring CO2 in their living rooms.

Incredible as it may seem, this quality of argument is typical of the book. While the text is annotated profusely with footnotes and refers to papers in the top journals, thus giving it the veneer of scholarship, it is often the case that the cited articles do not support the text. Plimer repeatedly veers off to the climate sceptic's journal of choice, the bottom-tier Energy and Environment, to advance all manner of absurd theories: for example, that CO2 concentrations actually have fallen since 1942.

Plimer believes "global warming" occurring on Mars, Triton, Jupiter and Pluto proves human emissions of CO2 don't affect Earth's climate. He believes that once CO2 levels reached 200ppmv (about half of today's value) the CO2 had absorbed almost all the infrared energy it could, and further increases will not have much effect. He believes global warming does not lead to biological stress. He believes volcanoes emit significant quantities of chlorofluorocarbons. He believes the sun formed on the collapsed core of a supernova. All these ideas are so wrong as to be laughable: they do not offer an "alternative scientific perspective".

Plimer probably didn't expect an astronomer to review his book. I couldn't help noticing on page120 an almost word-for-word reproduction of the abstract from a well-known loony paper entitled "The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass". This paper argues that the sun isn't composed of 98 per cent hydrogen and helium, as astronomers have confirmed through a century of observation and theory, but is instead similar in composition to a meteorite.
It is hard to understate the depth of scientific ignorance that the inclusion of this information demonstrates. It is comparable to a biologist claiming that plants obtain energy from magnetism rather than photosynthesis.

Plimer has done an enormous disservice to science, and the dedicated scientists who are trying to understand climate and the influence of humans, by publishing this book. It is not "merely" atmospheric scientists that would have to be wrong for Plimer to be right. It would require a rewriting of biology, geology, physics, oceanography, astronomy and statistics. Plimer's book deserves to languish on the shelves along with similar pseudo-science such as the writings of Immanuel Velikovsky and Erich von Daniken.

Michael Ashley is professor of astrophysics at the University of NSW."

Now I'm mighty eager to read Plimer's book to see whether that attack sticks! When searching for Ashley's article I discovered a blog which takes an opposing view, Australian Climate Madness. Here is a link to the particular post about Ashley's article. The comments to that piece are an interesting slice of all the usual postures on this. As I said in an earlier post:

"Global warming? Who knows. The majority of us are sitting back bemusedly watching the savants/high priests hurling incantations and curses at each other. Who to believe? Most of us think there's something funny with the weather but, then, everybody always has. If we wait for those guys to agree before we act we'll wait till the heat death of the Universe. So what to do? Forget about global warming. Yes, forget it! What is the argument about really? More to the point, (and leaving aside whether it's real) why are people prepared to pay money to some stooge to gainsay global warming? After all, funding for scientific research is always damned hard to come by, unless there's a military/industrial payoff for someone. So, cui bono, when the stooge causes someone to waiver on believing in GW? The only visible beneficiaries are the carbon-fuel industries. Here's my simple answer to it all: Forget GW and talk about how we unhook from carbon-based fuels. We're going to have to one day; they're finite. The sooner we do it the better. That way, what's left can be used for materials, rather than put up the chimney. If there really is such a thing as global warming and cutting out carbon fuels ameliorates it, that'll be a nice bonus for the future generations."

That was my second post and I wouldn't change a word of it. I can't grapple with the teched-up scientific types or the statistically-empowered lobbyists but I do know when a stalemate is in evidence. My response is pragmatic agnosticism. I expanded further on my skepticism about the global warming issue in this post. Since then I've thought of a few more wrinkles in the issue:

1. One of the experimental platforms left on the moon by the Apollo missions was a laser reflector which allows very precise measurements be made of the distance between Earth and the moon. The results over the past 40 years have shown that the moon is receding from Earth at 3 centimetres a year. A trivium per annum, but multiply it over hundreds of years and think about the fact that the increased radius, multiplied by Pi, is added to the circumference of the moon's orbit. I don't know enough about orbital mechanics and gravitational equations to say whether this means the moon takes longer to orbit Earth, does it in the same time (but faster) , reduces the moon's tidal effect, the intensity of light reflected from the moon to Earth or any other damn thing...but it must be having some effect on Earth's environment.

2. I saw a documentary about a guy who discovered a rise in surface temperatures in the USA coinciding with the period of aircraft grounding after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Apparently the vapours and particulate pollution caused by the massive air traffic in that country were shielding the surface from solar radiation. This "global dimming" effect would be very difficult to quantify and to assess in terms of its relative effects on strata in the atmosphere. If it's cooling the surface layer by absorbing radiant energy, perhaps it's also warming the upper atmosphere by reradiating it at night. It could be either a net cooling or heating effect. (Sheesh.)

3. Apparently the Sun is progressively becoming brighter...I have a distinct feeling that this has an effect on the Earth's climate...

The foregoing 3 paragraphs are risibly superficial analysis. No argument there. Now I could stuff this section full of links and study the subject up to the best of my layman's ability but that really isn't germane to what I'm trying to convey. The fact remains that we really are in the hands of the incessantly disputing "experts". The real issue is how we, the laypersons, perceive this whole question and the answer's going to have to be from a position of ignorance. We can't learn enough about climatology to make our own analysis.

There is a remarkable truth. We are being solicited for votes, menaced with new taxation regimes; all founded upon a premise which most of us have no hope of verifying. This is a modern form of religious proselytisation. The high priests of doomsday science and their skeptical nemeses perform their incantations and conjurings and we must decide with our limited analytical resources whether to believe them.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Post#128 Ramsay Street, or Thoughts on Gordon the Gormless

I see that that boorish and foul-mouthed cook, Gordon Ramsay, has been shooting of his f*****g mouth in Australia. Not wise, I feel sure; definitely not wise, especially as it even attracted the disapprobation of the esteemed Kevin Rudd.

I’m sure people know that there are some brands that have a very short shelf-life; such is with Gordon the Gormless, a man with little charm and less talent. I would really hope that people in Australia, not reluctant to express an opinion themselves in-how shall I say?-the earthiest of terms, do not take the Great Gormless as just another ‘whinging pom.’ He’s not; he’s a useless whinging pom, something altogether different!

Please, guys and gals of Oz, don’t be taken in by this man. You may think that while his remarks about and to Tracy Grimshaw were completely over the top, he is at least excused by his talent. Talent, what talent? I would not go near any of the restaurants and bistros he runs in London; none of my friends would and none of my family would. You may not have heard of this but he runs a back street kitchen here, which ships ready-made meals to his various establishments; meals made with cheap ingredients and then marked up some 600%. Yea, that’s right, 600%! Gordon the Gormless is not worth the energy of your contempt.

Look, I know this is an awful cheek, but would you mind keeping him? I feel sure that you will be able to find some use for him, even if it’s only as bait for crocodiles! :-))

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Post#127 "Corruption? Of course there's corruption!" (Is corruption always so bad?)

Sooo, Stasi, you askeeng mi about corrarption. Vayry goood! I talk beeg about corrarption - of course, in Australia, we have a high standard of corruption which has a venerable antecedence. The story of corruption in these islands begins with the arrival of...well I'm not sure about that. I was going to say "The First Fleet of 1788" but it occurred to me that the fate of the Batavia was a fine example of rampant corruption. Then again...I'm adopting a Eurocentric posture...there must have been indigenous corruption before foreigners worked their magic on the place.

Aboriginal culture has been invested with an artificial regularity by the distance in time from which we perceive it. The existence of politics, economics and the corruption that accompanies them was as much a part of aboriginal Australian life as it was in any other part of the world. If it wasn't, then the aborigines must have been the only branch of humanity to live just like the plastic diorama figures in museums. Bob the Builder or Thomas the Tank Engine would have spicier lives. I can imagine an ambitious man of the tribe inviting an elder to a private rendezvous and offering him him some delicacies..."I've got some nice kangaroo tails here for you, uncle. Now about that fellow I need cursed...."

Corruption comes in many forms, but most of it falls into these categories:

1. Stealing from the entity that you have an obligation to; tickling the till, rorting allowances, pilfering materials/equipment.

2. Requiring a payment to do your lawful duty; you require a gift from someone to do what you're paid to do for them already.

3. Receiving a payment to do something unlawful; just about anything you can think of.

4. Using influence or authority to prefer your own interest or that of another; "fixing" tenders, giving "mates' rates", "jobs for the boys/girls".

The first and fourth categories are those which politicians prefer. The difficulty is that the disclosure of the corruption and the ensuing rituals of media torture and dismissal are good fooder for journalists but don't necessarily advance the national interest. Joel Fitzgibbon has just been driven from office without anyone actually proving that he wasn't doing a passable job as Minister for Defence. I can believe that he was tageted by vested interests in the defence bureaucracy because he was goring their oxen. He would not be the first; Defence has a well-earned reputation for bastardry. On the larger world stage, Bill Clinton lost moral and international political authority for a sex scandal which had no bearing upon great matters of state. While the scandal raged, Osama bin Laden was taking care of business. Would victory over the despots have been achieved more readily if every grubby detail of the private lives of Allied generals and politicians had been broadcast during World War II? Not likely. Abraham Lincoln denied that he said it but approved the sentiment of an anecdote that quoted him as responding to complaints about U. S. Grant's alleged boozing by saying, "Find out what sort of whisky he drinks and send a case of it to every general."

On the other hand, there is the slippery slope. There is a line in the Judaeo - Christian scriptures which tells us: "Thou shalt not bind the mouths of the kine that tread the grain." Of course, the kine may get the idea that eating the grain should take precedence over grinding it. Instead of just picking up the spillage, they might decide to tackle what's supposed to go under the millstone. The extent to which some people will abuse a privilege when they become disinhibited is a fair warning in this regard.

So there is the dilemma for the citizenry; making a gossip-feast of corrupt behaviour may keep the media wheels turning and provide taxi drivers with topics to pass time conversing about with passengers. It may also be at the price of crippling a leader engaged in competently performing necessary and difficult work. However, blind-eyeing it may also be a step on the path to disaster and it's usually not possible to foresee exactly where the path is leading in any particular situation. So, we are returned to square one. Exasperating as it is, we must suffer the repetitious disclosures because we can't really just let it pass. It's the melodrama that is confected around it that wears me out and which prompted this post on the subject. I just wish it was taken in stride and not offered to us as a wonder of the world. The title of this post is a quote from a former Police Commissioner of Western Australia, Brian Bull. If only the scandal-mongers would take his point and stop boring us to death with their excitement.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Post#126 All Votes Are Equal, But Some Are More Equal Than others

I thought I'd share this, Retarius. Please forgive the double post. :-)

OK, let’s begin with my fallback position and my lifeline: I don’t like the British National Party; I do not like its brand of politics; I do not like its racism and I do not like its ideology. I say this to avoid any misunderstanding arising from what I’m about to write, for I know how easy it is for misunderstandings to emerge. I would also suggest that this particular piece be read in tandem with The Resistible Rise of the BNP, which I wrote last week.

Anyway, I find it particularly amusing how certain political developments are received; for that reception usually tells me more about recipient than the object of their concern. Democracy is democracy, and all votes are important, all votes are meaningful in one way or another. But, oh no, they are not. Look at the pious statements, the expressions of shock and outrage, following in the wake of the BNP’s minor triumph in the European elections, allowing them to send two representatives to Europe. David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, a man whom I personally happen to admire, says that, “It sickens me and it should sicken everybody…it brings shame on us that these fascists, racist thugs should have been elected to the European Parliament.” Corporal Clegg of the Liberal Democrats says that the BNP, “…don’t provide any hope and any answers.” Paul Kenny, the General Secretary of the GMB union, said, “On D-Day, Britain sent an army to Europe to stop Nazis getting to Britain [Not exactly, Mr Kenny, but never mind!]….Britain is now sending Nazis to Europe.”

We have seen it all before, have we not, that democracy is a ‘good thing’ when it produces the results that we want. We, in the west, hold up democracy, with all of our cultural conceit and arrogance, as the panacea for the ills of the world, the ills, for example, of the Muslim world. For democracy, as Graham Greene’s Alden Pyle would have preached, is the ‘Third Force’, the new beginning, is it not? But give Muslims the vote then what do you get? Why, Hamas among the Palestinians, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad among the Iranians. The latter just happens to have much popular legitimacy as Barack Obama and a hell of a lot more than Joker Brown.

So, now Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons are off to Strasbourg, and the other politicians walk off the stage to demonstrate their self-righteous disapproval. Not many are prepared to face the simple fact that the corruption of our whole complacent political system is to blame; and by corruption I mean so much more than the expenses scandal.

Our prized national democracy is little better than an elected dictatorship, where a government is chosen often not just on a minority of the popular vote but on the basis of contests in key ‘swing constituencies’, where a fraction of the vote determines the eventual outcome. There are whole areas of the country that can safely be ignored, because we all know the vote there is, so to say, predetermined.

The worst parts, the most neglected parts, are those huge fiefdoms of the Labour Party, particularly strong in the north of the country, ruled over by the modern version of the Robber Baron. I would go so far as to say that people in places like Humberside have effectively been ‘disenfranchised’, whether they vote or not, if that makes sense, in our Westminster elections. Oh, we would not have these Fascists in Europe if the elections were on the basis of good-old ‘first past the post’, say the jeremiads. No, we would not; but we would still have close on a million people with no effective voice.

The fact remains, as I said in my previous piece, that people are turning to the BNP precisely because their concerns over immigration, over their own position in society, over housing and over jobs, are simply being ignored. For God sake, forget the shock horror over the success of the BNP; look at its manifesto. What will you see? Why, it’s pure ‘Old Labour’, with a strong emphasis on nationalisation, high taxation, subsidy and protectionism. Yes, every vote for the BNP is an expression of disquiet over immigration policy. More than that, it’s the call of the marginalised and the dispossessed; it’s a call for the old left-wing certainties and shibboleths of the past. Now, there is a paradox upon which to take my leave!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Post#125 We Don't Do Corruption

I would be interested to know, Retarius, if you and your readers, those who are not English, of course, are picking up on the political scandal that is rocking the Mother of Parliaments, the one cantering on MPs expenses? I cannot imagine you have not but I understand just how insular news can be, so anyone who has not you can pick up a flavour of this in three of my Ana the Imp pieces, Two Cheers for the Telegraph, or the Ducks say Fuck! (24 May), Duck Soup (21 May), and The Crooks’ Parliament, or if this is Democracy Let it Die (16 May).

There is a lovely irony to this for, you see, we do not do corruption here. You might, the rest of the world might but, oh no, we don’t. At least we did not up till now. Poor innocents: we are making up for lost ground, and how we are making up! Most people are angry over the big stuff, like the claims for moat cleaning (yes, you read that correctly, moat cleaning!), large screen TVs, fraudulent mortgage claims and all sorts of consumer luxuries that have absolutely nothing to do with Parliamentary business. But what I find most irksome is the sheer pettiness of some of the claims, claims that reveal so much about the character of our representatives. Among the worst of these was a claim for a single Kit-Kat, watching a porno movie, a wreath for commemorative Sunday and money put in a church collection plate. Can you believe that, can you believe the mentality of people who think like that? If it wasn’t just so funny it would be tragic. :))

Post#124 Laughing in Spite of Oneself

Have you ever wondered about the nature of humour, why we find some things funny and others not? Let me put this another way: have you ever found something funny despite yourself, despite all of your ‘purer’ instincts. I know I have. So, here is my confession.

I did a little research on the subject of Josef Goebbels. Whatever one happens to think of this man-and I personally find him rather repulsive-he was a propagandist of genius. Shortly after he became Gauleiter of Berlin in 1928 he founded a paper, Der Angriff, which he used as a vehicle for his views and a tool of his methods. One of his targets was the Jewish police president of Berlin, a man by the name of Dr. Bernhard Weiss, constantly referred to in Der Angriff by the insulting name of ‘Isidor’.

Now, Goebbels was the kind of man best ignored, a man referred to by one of his own party comrades as a ‘poisonous dwarf’. But poor old Doctor Weiss, in many ways a prime example of a humourless Prussian bureaucrat, was forever running like a bull at Goebbels’ rag. He repeatedly took Der Angriff to court, and was repeatedly awarded damages and costs. In the meantime the circulation of the newspaper increased and increased.

On one particular occasion the paper’s cartoonist, who went by the pen name of Moljinr, produced an illustration showing Dr Weiss as a donkey. Once again Der Angriff was taken to court, and once again judgement was passed in favour of Weiss. The day following the headline in the paper was “Judge Agrees: Isidor Does Look like a Donkey.”

Yes, I laughed.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Post#123 A Polished Joke - a Riposte to Lenin in Zurich (Communist Era Humour)

Nice one, Stasi!! Here's a favourite of mine from the borscht old days (or barszcz in this case):

A political organiser in a Polish factory in the 1970's is despairing over the indifference of his comrades to the great matters of state. One day he rails at them, demanding that they demonstrate their ideological preparedness by giving brief biographies of the senior party members. He asks them to speak about various ministers of State, all of whom his comrades apparently have never heard of. When they purport to know nothing of the career of the head of government he bursts out in exasperation: "You numbskulls!! If you spent less time boozing at home and more time improving your minds at political meetings you'd know who the most important people in our country are and why they're important!"

The ensuing, sullen silence is broken by a worker calling out, "If you're so well-informed, tell us about Krzysztof Novak." The organiser is bewildered. He's never heard of any bigwig with that name. He then suspects that he's being mocked; that this is an imaginary person. "There is no significant person of that name!", he retorts.

"Here is his significance", the worker says; "If you spent more time at home and less time at political would know that Novak is the guy who is screwing your wife!"

Post#122 Lamia, Bankers and Hell

I saw Drag me to Hell recently, directed by Sam Rami, the guiding hand behind the Spider Man movies and, still earlier, The Evil Dead. I loved this movie but then I love the whole horror movie genre. I also love discovering something new. Rami’s movie introduced me to the Lamia, who appears as a devil-like demon in the movie. I looked into this, discovering that the Lamia has deep mythological roots…and that she is female, one with a tragic history, a plaything of the selfish passions of the gods.

In Classical mythology Lamia was a Queen of Libya. Beloved by Zeus, she incurred the wrath of Hera, who, in an act of revenge, killed her children. Either cursed by the jealous goddess, or consumed by grief, Lamia turned a monster. Taking on the partial shape of a serpent, she began to devour other people’s children in furious envy.

In Greek folklore Lamia has the same basic form-and purpose- as the witch Baba Yaga in that of Russia, a monster who combines a taste for human flesh with the gift of prophecy; a monster who serves as a warning. Philostratus, in The Life of Apollonius, says that she took on the shape of a beautiful woman at will to entice young men prior to devouring them. Something of the tragedy of Lamia was later captured in a romantic form by John Keats, who describes her thus;

She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr'd;
And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
Dissolv'd, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries-
So rainbow-sided, touch'd with miseries,
She seem'd, at once, some penanced lady elf,
Some demon's mistress, or the demon's self.
Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire
Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne's tiar:
Her head was serpent, but ah, bitter-sweet!
She had a woman's mouth with all its pearls complete:
And for her eyes: what could such eyes do there
But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair?

As far as the movie is concerned I thought that Christine’s fate was rather hard. If anyone deserved to be dragged to hell it was the board of directors of the bank she worked for, not a lowly employee. The old gypsy’s curse was misdirected; we can all understand that much!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Post#121 Lenin in Zurich

Do you really want me to tell a joke, Retarius? My sense of humour is slightly on the rarefied side! Anyway, just for you.

The setting is the old Soviet Union in the days of Brezhnev. Pravda announces the unveiling of a newly commissioned painting, entitled Lenin in Zurich. The day arrives. All of the most important people are there, the members of the Presidium and the Supreme Soviet; Brezhnev himself is in attendance. The artist and the director of the Academy are on the podium, with the painting between them, covered by a small curtain. The Director rises, welcomes the guests, and announces. “Comrades, I’m delighted to unveil this tribute to the great Lenin.” The curtain is drawn aside. There is an audible gasp from the crowd, followed by a stunned silence. The Director looks at the painting, which shows Trotsky in bed with Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife. He turns to the artist and whispers, “Where the hell is Lenin?” “Oh”, the artist replies, “Lenin’s in Zurich.”

Quickly changing the subject, I noted your lamentation over getting people to read blogs. Does it matter? There are thousands upon thousands of these things. I write for myself; I write for the love of writing; if someone else takes pleasure in what I write, even if it’s only one person, then that is a welcome bonus. True, I have drawn other people’s attention to Ana the Imp, friends and people I know from other networks. I know they have come and taken some benefit, which is pleasing enough in itself. I also know that a piece I wrote last month on Paul Ogarzow, The Forgotten Serial Killer, has been flagged up by a web page in New Zealand as one of only two online articles in the English language on this man, and the better of the two! Can I ask for any greater accolade? :-))

Friday, 1 May 2009

Post#120 Pirates of Amnesia (Tactics for defeating the Somali Pirates)

I'm been watching in bewilderment as the saga of piracy along the East African coast has progressed through weeks to months in length. The thing that I can't figure is why the word "convoy" has never entered the discourse. The convoy system that worked so well against submarine attacks could easily be applied to thwarting the Somali pirates.

An international force could be stationed at sea in several rendezvous points where vessels intending to use African-coast shipping lanes could find escorts. With GPS technology this should be a very easy procedure. It's strange how the experts on warfare forget the lessons of the past. In the first world war the generals forgot everything that had ever been learned in the thousands of years of refinement of the art of siege warfare and had to relearn it the hard way. The skills of the armourer were lost too; troops being sent into battle with only fabric uniforms for protection, many without even the most basic helmets. Thus the lessons of two World wars in the field of naval defence seem also to have been lost.

A combined force of surface and submarine vessels could probably break the economic back of the piracy industry off the East African coast within six months. Now how do I persuade Hillary Clinton to read this?

Monday, 6 April 2009

Post#119 Ruddy Nonsense (Nicholson and The Australian versus Kevin Rudd)

Nine days ago The Weekend Australian ran a cartoon by Nicholson in which Kevin Rudd was represented by two legs protruding from the posterior of Barack Obama. Two days ago Nicholson depicted Rudd as lost under the dinner table at the G20 banquet. In this same edition of The Weekend Australian an editiorial rebuked those who had taken offence at Nicholson's crudity. The gist of it was that "lefties" wouldn't cop their poster-boy being attacked.

I was annoyed by both cartoons, not because of crudity or being a thin-skinned "lefty"; the cartoons were simply baseless. Rudd has not distinguished himself with any particular sycophancy towards Obama and has been less Obameffusive than many other heads of state or government. As for the banquet, the seating was absolutely according to the international conventions of protocol and, in terms of personal favour or otherwise, signifies nothing.

The article in the same edition which dwelt on Rudd's "slight" was, for the same reason, a complete waste of space. If anyone is pushing a barrow here, it's not "lefties".

Friday, 27 March 2009

Post#118 Carbon Schmarbon (Australia and the Carbon Tax / Emississions Trading Scheme)

I previously denounced the "carbon tax" concept in a post to this blog as a revenue-raiser which would make no constructive difference to energy consumption practices. Recent noises emanating from Canberra have conformed perfectly with that diagnosis.

I've emailed various politicians (using my real name) to enquire as to what the causal connection is between taxing carbon and a revolution in the energy-supply industry. I've suggested that the industries using carbon fuels will simply pass the costs along to their clients. That won't put money into the development of alternative energy. It will simply push inflation as everybody tries to recoup their losses by passing the costs along.

The response has been disappointing. I know these messages are read by minders, not the MPs themselves, but I expected that a request to be referred to the reference material which supports the concept is within the bounds of the possible. No such luck. Just proforma replies to the effect of "Thankyou for your comments. They will be drawn to the attention of..."

It's extraordinary that an assumption can be embedded so deeply in the process of public discourse without any convincing argument ever having been put for its validity.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Post#117 Terrorists Prove That Imran Khan is Wrong! (Terrorist Attack on Sri Lankan Cricket Team.)

At Post#99 I noted that a gaffe by George Bush had verified the political insight of Imran Khan. Unfortunately, the attack by terrorists on the Sri Lankan Test cricket team in Pakistan have shown that Imran has at least one blind spot regarding the extremists in his homeland. I have seen him being interviewed on various television programmes in which he has confidently expressed a belief that cricket is too close to the hearts of his countrymen for anyone to dare an assault upon it.

This is a view which has been held by quite a few people and has been incorporated into the savage criticism that has been directed at the Australian national team for refusing to tour Pakistan. The general theme is that India's economy provides massive financial incentives to Australian players and that fear of terrorism has been a convenient excuse to avoid Pakistan and spend more time in India; making commercials, music videos, paid public appearances, etc.

If there was ever any truth in this it isn't going to apply in future. And if India is the next target for anti-cricket terrorism no amount of largesse will lure foreign players there.

It seems likely that the extremists have decided to demonstrate that nothing human is sacred to them; not life, not youth, not innocence. They are sending a message that nothing and no-one is "barlies". We should heed this message. Any inclination to mercy in dealing with these creatures should wither in the brutal heat of their villainy. Let them convince us that they have no humanity. The inhuman have no need of human rights. Yes, let them continue to enlighten us... when the time comes, we shall know how to deal with them.

For all that, I wish Imran Khan had been right this time.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Post#116 Mantis on the flyscreen (Archimantis latistyla)

Yesterday I found a large brown mantis sitting on the outside of the flywire on my kitchen window. It was about 12 centimetres in length and its abdomen section was about a centimetre in diameter. I was quite surprised to see this critter; I haven't seen a large green or brown mantis in more than 10 years. It often happens that something disappears from sight and a long time passes before you notice its absence. Thus with the mantises. The only ones I've seen for a long while were puny little green ones - and not that many or often.

I took a cobweb broom, cornered the beast and goaded it into climbing onto the broom-head. I then carried it across the yard to a bush which would provide it with better hunting and cover from the birds that might like to feast on it. During the pickup phase of this operation the mantis' rear end curved up and appeared to be trying to engage the broom with the pincers at the end of its abdomen. I noticed a similarity between this feature and the pincer-tail of the earwig. The mantis, however, didn't appear to have much flexibility and made this manoeuvre quite slowly.

I don't know what sort of predator this would be effective against; perhaps these pincers are mostly used for helping it to cling to plants.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Post#115 A Needless Dying (Black Saturday: 2009 Victorian Bushfires)

I haven't had much experience of the sort of lifestyle that people prefer in the forested hinterlands around Australian cities. My only contact with it has been brief visits to relations who have operated hobby-farms in Western Australia and New South Wales. Both families had experiences of bushfires approaching and menacing their homes and I read their stories in occasional letters and Christmas cards and saw some photographs of the efforts of country fire service units confronting these blazes. When I first heard these yarns in childhood and teenage years I thought it was just a manageable nuisance that came round every year and I wasn't all that concerned by it. I knew nothing of the various famous episodes of catastrophic and fatal bushfires. If they were mentioned they went over my head as just part of the dreary tapestry of the distant past (i.e. more than twenty years ago).

I woke up to the fact that these lethal events were contemporary in 1983 when the Ash Wednesday fires dominated the public fora of the day. I then sat up and took serious notice of what was happening. I couldn't understand how this could be happening in modern times. How could people die in a bushfire when they were in their own homes or in a vehicle on a road? My puzzlement was due to two factors: The first was that I had no idea of the power of such fires. In fact, I don't think there was much in the way of film footage of fires of this degree of intensity and I couldn't visualise it for myself. I'd never personally seen any fire in open country. The second was that I had no idea of the lunatic practices that facilitated the destructive effect of the fires.

I was greatly enlightened by the sights which were available to be seen once the media took up the issue of modern forest-dwellers and their environs. Once I caught on to the way in which eucalypts give up flammable vapour and the speed and volume of the waves of fire this produces, I was amazed to see the proximity in which housing was built to them. Throughout Victoria and New South Wales there were enormous districts in which a helicopter-borne camera could reveal the roofs of thousands of houses built in dense forest. Forest which bustled around and loomed over the buildings. A majority of the houses had large trees abutting them; the trunks pressed up right against the walls of the houses. This explained very simply the peril faced by these residents.

It didn't explain their being subjected to this situation. The next phase of my education was to discover that the authorities insist that people may not remove trees from the vicinity of their properties and that strong penalties are applicable to those who defy them. This seemed to me to be Alice-in-Wonderland absurdity. I've never had reason to reconsider that response. Some of the very residents at most risk from these crackpot policies are resistant to preventive clearing. They're apparently prepared to expose themselves and others to a potential horrible death for the sake of preserving their forest surrounds.

There is a simple solution to this problem. Like all such things, it will be grievously unpalatable to most who have a vested interest. The governments with planning control power must decide whether any particular forest area is to be allowed to be used for habitation. If it is, a decision must then be made as to what density of settlement will be allowed. It's really a matter of deciding how much of the forest one will tolerate seeing felled. If the answer is none, there can be no housing. If there is an acceptable loss, you allow as many houses as can be safely built within the sacrificed proportion of land, subject to these provisos:

1. A completely cleared area of 100 metres radius should be around each dwelling. 2. Building with inflammable materials should be restricted; the exteriors of buildings should be composed of brick, ceramic, stone or metal. 3. An approved shelter must be built within 10 meters of the house, accessible both from a direct entrance and from an access tunnel from the house.

That will do for starters. Here are some more ideas:

A water tank on a platform adjacent to and higher than the house would allow gravity feed of water so pumps would be unnecessary. The tank could be filled from a tanker truck operated by the fire service and checked/topped up twice a year. Obviously, it would be of a sealed type which would not allow evaporation. It would be filled through a feed pipe from ground level which would would have a return valve where it entered the tank. A ventilation valve would open when the water was to be drawn for use in sprinklers or hoses.

Every house could be fitted with a roof-mounted reflective curtain wich could drop down over the house. This could be made of a very light material which would be drawn up into a container above the roof until it was deployed.

And what about all those people already living in large numbers in dense forest? Once an acceptable proportion of clearing is determined, some of them, perhaps most of them in some areas, will have to be removed. I can hear the roars of fury already. Let 'em roar. No-one would baulk at prohibiting settlement on the rim of an active volcano or on a mountain slope known for periodic massive mudslides or rock avalanches. The time has come to crush the idiot brigade beneath the boots of common sense. If that means dealing with ferocious protests and paying thousands of millions in relocation compensation, so be it. It took a massacre to bring a little improvement in the gun control laws and this is the massacre that should bring reality to bear upon forest settlement practices. At this time of writing the death toll has reached 208. Some of these are children. Most of these people did not die of smoke inhalation. They burned while alive and conscious.

The craziness has gone far enough. There are too many timber houses built on slopes covered in trees; too many of them have massive glass facings which provide no protection and allow radiant energy to ignite the contents of the houses. I recently saw some lunatic architect's work in the field of treehouses being praised in the Weekend Australian Magazine. What a great idea. Let's not just have the fuel-trees adjacent to the house or growing in a central courtyard; let's mount dwellings on top of them! That'll make for a nice cozy fire, won't it?

We've had Ash Wednesday, Black Friday and now, Black Saturday. How many more days of the week have to be racked up with portentous names as memorials to stupidity?

A final point. Would-be social engineers keep singing to us the praises of high-density dwelling. Whatever arguments are mustered for it, most people don't want a bar of it. That's why the population keeps seeking sea-changes and tree-changes. It's one more weight in the scale that supports the argument that we need to contain our population and immigration should cease as a first step. We're being confronted by environmental stress and peril on multiple fronts and most of it would alleviate if we simply reduced the poulation of the country by a couple of million. We could knock down some of these new-minted "infill" slums in our cities and create managed parkland estates that would remove the impetus to push ever-outward into the perilous hinterland.