Wednesday, June 25, 2008
After all the disagreement I've been in amongst lately it's nice now to discuss a villain that no one will dispute. I'm talking, of course, of the Worst Man In The World, the unassailably wicked Robert Mugabe. So indisputable is his villainy that he is now a touchstone of evil. Never mind the one-note bloc-media, even the most extreme blogs, of the variety that take it as read that every single thing in the media is bullshit, will refer to Mugabe whenever they're looking for the epitome of evil (pronounced 'eeeeeeevil').
Oops, did you suss me out already? Do you wonder where I'm heading? "He's not about to start sticking up for Mugabe, is he?" Before we jump to any conclusions, let's just wonder at a few things.
Let's go back five years ago. That's when Australian broadcaster SBS's highbrow Dateline programme broke a story about a 'sting' involving Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The naughty Tsvangirai was caught on hidden camera by some Canadian 'consultants', Dickens and Madson, discussing Mugabe's 'elimination'. Everyone went nuts. Tsvangirai was, and still is, the bloc-media's darling. He's the good guy. What was SBS doing? Helping Mugabe? Dreadful!
Tsvangirai's MDC party went ballistic saying it was a put-up and that the video was doctored. Not only that, but a bit of digging revealed that the principal 'consultant' involved was an Israeli, Ari Ben-Menashe, ex-Mossad, ex-Iran/Contra, ex-you-name-it. Ben-Menashe is Midas in reverse - everything he touches turns to putrescent black shit.
And then it all got stinkier. Ben-Menashe's 'consulting' mob had been employed by Mugabe for years. In a fit of Zanu-PF paid-for patriotism, Ben-Menashe promptly turned the grainy spy video of the meeting over to Mugabe and also went shopping around the world for someone who didn't know that he was a famous ratfuck.
So! SBS had been had and Tsvangirai was innocent after all. Three cheers! Not so fast. A single reporter wanted to see for himself if the other claim about the footage being doctored was true. This being The Guardian's Australian correspondent Patrick Barkham. He drove the twenty minutes to SBS and watched the whole uncut six hours. Did the MDC opposition's claims of editing-room monkey business hold up? Nope. Tsvangirai was guilty as charged. Ben-Menashe had worked his magic yet again and everyone walked away spattered in shit.
But that's okay. The story was left to sink without trace. All apart from this brief churlish comment by the World Socialist Web Site - '[Tsvangirai's] main concern is to impress Western investors and governments impatient to get their hands on the resources of the whole of southern Africa, including Zimbabwe. That was why he seized the opportunity to make a deal with Dickens and Madson.' Bloody spoilsports! Otherwise it was back to business as usual with Mugabe as villain and Tsvangirai as saviour.
However the spy-cam scandal didn't sink nearly as hard and fast as the next one. This came directly from the opposition MDC and was about Mugabe employing Mossad and various Israeli computer and vote-counting firms to rig the elections. Remember that? All manner of Israelis ran for cover. Phones were slammed down, Israeli company owners said they were 'shocked' to be accused of such things, and the phrase 'anti-semitism' was lobbed about just so that everyone knew what ballpark they were in.
The Western media didn't even touch it. It was an all internet affair. That the media avoided what should have been a perfect story is proof enough of their bloc nature. 'Foreign agents help steal the elections for The Worst Man In The World!' A perfectly hysterical headline for a perfectly hysterical campaign.
Ha ha ha, as if! In the media house-of-many-voices (hysterical screaming voices), we suddenly turn a corner and find a room so quiet you could hear a pin drop. And this is how things are in the bloc-controlled media. Those who own it may never be mentioned. In the bloc-media there is no such thing as a tiny number of families capable of bringing down a country's economy. And Israel, their public entity, is either a plucky underdog or a victim or both. And Ben-Menashe of course, is not Israeli. He lives in Canada, so, duh, he's Canadian.
So where were we? Oh yeah, Mugabe. What was all that mad gibberish he was muttering the other day about the whites conspiring to take his country? Who wouldn't dismiss them as the ravings of a madman? Apart from the aforementioned Patrick Barkham - '...perhaps some of Robert Mugabe's utterings aren't completely paranoid, and are actually - there is some substance to his claims that white forces are plotting to derail him in Zimbabwe.' Some of them? Most of them? All of them? Who knows? Otherwise, won't somebody rid us of this troublesome journo?
Barkham obviously hasn't been watching the TV. Not like us anyway. And sure, we don't believe a single goddamn thing on there. It's all bullshit - 911, Iraq, Afghanistan, Muslims, US elections, global warming, peak oil (now I'm getting extreme!). But what we're told about Zimbabwe, madly we think is true. It ain't. Mugabe is merely flailing about under a spectacular multi-front assault. The money men, with corporations lined up for the actual work, want to smash his country, just like they smashed Iraq and Afghanistan. In Zimbabwe they're merely employing a different means. Sure enough, helpful Israelis are all over the place working both sides. Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai should wake up and ask themselves - With friends like these who needs Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death? Boys, whatever they tell you, it's bullshit.
And in amongst all this bullshit, the only thing about Mugabe that we know for sure is that he tops the bloc-media's list of 'those we must hate'. Unlike say, President François Bozize of the Central African Republic. Who? Where? Exactly - that's how it works. We've never heard of him or the CAR. The agenda of the banks and their corporate capos is, in this case, better served with us not knowing. In Zimbabwe, it's the other way around. Secrecy here, hysteria there. Whatever suits. The fact that the Zimbabwe hysteria has a scrap of truth to it is besides the point. All propaganda has a scrap of truth in it. That's how propaganda works.
Let's end with a metaphor. The bloc-media is Ari Ben-Menashe, same-same. Insofar as Ben-Menashe is incapable of opening his mouth without lying, so it is with the bloc-media. The only people who take Ben-Menashe at his word are people who don't know he's a ratfuck. The media is one up on Ben-Menashe on this score. They have the power to make us forget what ratfucks they are. Do NOT forget. Not a single thing comes out of the bloc-media that doesn't serve its banking masters. If you hate Mugabe it's because the bankers want you to. Me, I refuse to be that puppet.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
For those not familiar, haiku is a form of Japanese verse. It's simultaneously possessed of a hard rigidity and is as free as the air. The rigidity comes in the form of its structure which is that of three lines counted off in syllables of five, seven and five. Rhyme is irrelevant. Classically it will evoke images or feelings of the natural world or the seasons. Here are two by Bashō, Japan's 17th century master -
On a withered branch
A crow has alighted:
Nightfall in autumn.
Scent of chrysanthemums . . .
And in Nara
All the ancient Buddhas.
And yes, the syllable count is out. But that's a problem of translation. In the original Japanese, rest assured Bashō got it right. I printed them here merely to demonstrate what we might aspire too.
Perhaps it's just me but I've always enjoyed haiku as an exchange, a conversation. And since I started fiddling around with blogs I've wondered if I might not be able arrange things so that we could all share some haiku. But how to do it precisely?
In rolling this question around in my head a thought occurred to me. And it was on the subject of cryptic crosswords. Believe it or not haiku and cryptic clues are spookily similar. And at the same time are polar opposites. They're both disciplined, word perfect compositions possessed of a minimalist beauty. But a cryptic clue has an agenda. It is a question looking for an answer which will ideally be a punch line. Haiku has no such agenda. It is free of such clever pretensions. It is merely a means of marvelling at the world. How tiresome I am with that phrase, ha ha.
Anyway, my dilemma was how to use a blog, with it's front page and comments section, as a way of having a haiku conversation. Finally it was the comparison with cryptics that decided me. The Times crossword club has a simple template that should work. The editor writes an answer and everyone piles in with their clues and then a winner is announced. So what I shall do is post a picture on the front page. This is the prompt for the haiku. Those feeling inspired can then post their haiku in the comments section, as shall I. And then I, as self-appointed judge (well somebody has to do it) will pick the best one, or two, or three, and put them on the front page. I have no idea if this will work or if anyone will like it. It's merely the best I can come up with. Also I've decided that my own efforts will never grace the front page. And you can't say fairer than that.
Care to join me? The link is just to the right here.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
After I read Les Visible's fine piece over at smokingmirrors I remembered a documentary I saw called The Valley of Life or Death and which I recommend to all. The documentary started with two researchers in Africa, one an AIDS researcher, the other an anthropologist. Both of them had a series of maps which they compared. The anthropologist had a variety of maps charting all manner of things including language, religion, food and social practices. The AIDS researcher had a map of AIDS prevalence. Astoundingly the AIDS map matched the map charting the practice of circumcision almost precisely. It did not resemble any other maps. This was due to the fact that the practice of circumcision did not cleanly correspond with any other description. It was carried out (or not) by all religions, tribes and social groups, ie. there were Muslims who did and didn't circumcise, Animists who did and didn't, Swahili speakers who did and didn't etc. It varied village to village. As did AIDS prevalence. It was that specific.
The coincidence of AIDS prevalence and lack of circumcision drove the documentary makers to ask the obvious question - was there something about the foreskin that facilitated the catching of AIDS? So they looked into it. Sure enough, the foreskin differs from other bit of skin on the body, in that it lacks a layer of keratin. Keratin, it seems, is marvellous stuff that renders the body impervious to viruses. Skin lacking keratin not only does not possess this protection against viruses but acts in the opposite way by way 'Langerhans' cells that effectively drag the virus into the body. Who knew?
And yet, it all makes perfect sense. In an age before mass communications and government health warnings, health practices were necessarily encoded into religious doctrine. The logic behind a taboo on eating the flesh of swine is the same logic behind removing the foreskin. It wasn't for no reason that ancient religions mandated the removal of the foreskin.
The documentary ended with the researchers returning to Africa where they set up a cheap and effective program to encourage those not circumcised to do so. Three cheers all round. So. Has anyone reading here heard of this documentary? Have you heard of the health benefits of circumcision? It seems all we hear about is expensive drugs. For the majority of people their only connection with AIDS consists of giving money to those people with red buckets standing at prominent city corners. I'd be prepared to bet that this money goes not to cheap and effective circumcision programs but rather to more expensive big Pharma research for more expensive big Pharma drugs. What are the odds?
And how was this documentary greeted by the medical fraternity? Ha ha ha. Boy did they hate it! Have a bit of a google search and see how circumcision is viewed by doctors. Circumcision it seems, is up there with being bled, mercury cures and exorcism. The campaigns against it are broad-based and hysterical. Any doctor sticking up for it will be vociferously attacked. If it was completely banned that would suit the medical world just dandy.
Am I the only one to find this curious? Isn't the medical fraternity, like law, banking and the media heavily Jewish? And are they not all, to a man, circumcised? Why don't they take this hysterical campaign against circumcision as an affront to their beliefs? Why don't they stick up for it? Why do they pile in on the hysterical anti-circumcision campaign? That their sons will be circumcised is a cold hard certainty. Does anyone see any sense in this?
And then there's the field of sex research. These people are perhaps even more strident in their condemnation of circumcision. All manner of research and polls have been carried out proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that sex is better with a foreskin and that circumcision is some variation of barbaric sexual repression. Those lacking a foreskin are not only the subjects of butchery but are doomed to a life of second-rate sexual pleasure. If were to idly ask if 'sexual researchers' were perhaps also predominantly Jewish would we be surprised if the answer was 'duh...'. Now, repeat the previous para, substituting 'sexual researchers' for 'doctors', stir vigourously and bake for one hour in a moderate oven.
And what scrummy delight results from these ingredients? Whilst I did not discuss AIDS as a non-natural, man-made thing, there's tons of convincing evidence out there saying precisely that. Click the links in Les' piece or just get googling. Then there's the simple fact that amongst men, AIDS predominantly attacks the uncircumcised. In amongst the various AIDS campaigns there is no mention of circumcision as a cheap and effective preventative measure. What discussion there is of circumcision consists of an hysterical attack campaign. Finally the people who attack circumcision are predominantly its most famous practitioners. I'm not even going to sum it up. You figure it out.
*Post Scriptum four years later. I've been going through all my old text-only blog entries and retro-fitting them with photos. With this piece the first order of the day was to find an image from the abovementioned BBC Horizon documentary The Valley of Life and Death. Astoundingly in all of Google there is only a single 127 x 91 pixel picture, which I've posted above at its true rez. I've clocked up hundreds of hours searching for images on Google and I've never seen the like - certainly not for a documentary made by the BBC. But never mind, occasionally I seek images that don't exist (like a photo of Robert Mugabe that shows him as something other than mad or evil, say) and it's no problem - I simply go to google video and do a screen grab. But lo and behold, this documentary does not exist on the net in any way, shape, or form. This is extraordinary to the point of impossibility. This documentary is harder to lay your hands on than the disappeared Yorkshire Television documentary about the Franklin Scandal, Conspiracy of Silence. Wow.
Friday, June 13, 2008
This is the real thing - true corruption. It's what will happen to all of us. And I love it.
That's enough stringing along of the gag. I'm actually talking about compost. No banking, media or racial strife, just me putting all my food scraps into a pair of tubs filled with earth that I have on my father's balcony.
I've always loved how food scraps in soil disappear. I actually had a better arrangement in another place I lived. That soil was so thick with worms that there'd often be more worms than earth. It was nuts. It was so idiotically fecund that everything grew in it. This current compost isn't there yet. I should say, I've never had the space to actually grow anything. There was that time I was a teenager and we had an orchard, but that's another story.
In the meantime I just make earth. After starting with the most crap 'potting mix' imaginable, comprised mostly of woodchips, I'm now starting to get soil worth having. One day I may grow something in it. But at the moment I don't care. I just like collecting all our food scraps, putting them in the soil and watching it rot. In about a month or so, whatever I bury in the soil (eggshells, banana tops and those stupid stickers they put on fruit aside) has disappeared.
If nothing else, I've reduced our garbage to a fraction of what it was. It used to break my heart carrying out bags of perfectly good compost uselessly rotting in plastic. And the flip side of this is weird. Bucket after bucket of food goes into my compost tubs but the volume of soil never changes. The tubs never get any fuller. Spooky.
This is actually a big subject and I may revisit it later. But for now I'll keep it simple. And what's simpler than my hands plunged into the rich soil and my nostrils filled with the smell of corruption? I'm a simple soul and this makes me happy. Human metaphors aside, corruption equals life.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
There is a fellow out there in the world and I am his bête noire. Perhaps I was naive but I never had myself pegged as one to end up so designated. But it seems it's my lot. Over at smokingmirrors my least utterances reduce him to a caps-lock apoplexy. Truthfully I do not read him. I blink to see if I'm copping it yet again and then move on. But this blink is enough for me to know that I am the antichrist's cousin once removed, guilty of worshipping the false idol of selflessness. Or somesuch.
But forget that, the purpose of the exercise here and now is to clear up 'selflessness'. It's not hard because there's really nothing to it. Let's just say it's as simple as you want it to be. All a person has to do to be selfless is to do something for another that is not self-serving. Sharing food is perhaps the single most human expression of this. Otherwise one might help an old lady to a chair, a mother with her pram, or friends move house. If you expect something in return you don't get it. This is simple, simple stuff and I don't doubt that those reading here, do this kind of thing every day. In embodying this, not only will you make the world a better place but, believe it or not, you will find true happiness.
This is the simplest definition of selflessness and it is not wrong. If you like this definition and choose to lead your life in this fashion, I say, long may you live.
Or if you wish, we can take it further. Actually let's rewind. To say that performing acts of selflessness will bring happiness is somewhat simplistic. If doing things for others brought 'happiness', people like Gandhi would have been reduced to a puddle of orgasmic delirium. Somehow I doubt that this is an accurate description of him. What if I was to suggest that acts of selflessness don't bring happiness so much as they dispel unhappiness?
What unhappiness is that? It is that universal unhappiness that things are other than we would wish them. Buddha called it 'dukkha', which is to say suffering, which is to say desire. No human is free of this desire that they might feel better, look better, be more successful, be more famous, have more stuff, blah blah blah, ad infinitum. This desire is all in your head sure enough. In a discussion of selflessness, which is what we're having, it is that which defines you. It is the self, the sense of 'me'. Those who embrace desire embrace the self and are sensibly called 'selfish'. Those who let go of desire let go of the self and are thus called selfless. These are the people who share what they have, who help the old lady, the mother, the friends, or like Gandhi, devote their lives to freeing a people. Even if they don't mentally articulate it, this is how it works.
Believe it or not, this diminishment of unhappiness is readily apparent whenever you meet the selfless who devote their lives to others. You'll notice not that they're madly happy, but that they possess a calmness, a placidity. What you will see in their face is the absence of unhappiness, of desire, of the self. These are all the same thing.
This is a definition of selflessness taken one small step further. But it's actually no different to the first one. But whatever, if this is how you define your selflessness it's all good. Hats off to you.
Or we can go further, and take that final step to the metaphysical. If you're with me so far, it seems that who we are - the self / sense of desire - is actually a discussion of how we relate to the world (which is to say that which is not us). Is the world there for us? Or are we there for it? Do we make ourselves greater by taking from those not us? Or do we lessen ourselves and give to those not us? The answer is obvious and not the final step here. The final step is to wonder how far the diminishment of the self can go and what that means.
Can one shed all desire? What happens to the self? Does it disappear? Does a person who does this disappear? Are they no more? Ayah! Scary stuff. Who wouldn't fear this? Who would wish to cease to exist?
Funnily enough, no such thing happens. In fact it's the precise opposite. Those who take from others do not become greater. They actually harden into black holes of negativity. They become a dense speck of hatefulness. Those who give of themselves expand. It is they who actually become greater. They radiate love. Where this path leads to is that old chestnut of becoming 'one with the universe'. This is what Buddha became. He cast off desire, fear, and all delusion of the self. He ceased to differentiate between himself and that which was not him. And anyone can achieve what he achieved. Anyone can become Buddha.
If you think that this last bit is bullshit, that's fine with me. Take the second meaning instead. Or the first. It doesn't really matter. It's certainly not worth having an argument about. The important thing is that there is nothing to fear from selflessness. In whatever way you view it, it cannot lead you astray. None of these definitions have anything in them to cause unhappiness, ill will, or any form of negativity.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
How thrilled we all are. Alternative internet sites are falling over themselves with glee at Australia's withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's 'criticisms' of the Iraq war. Before we get too carried away, let's look at what he said. Or more specifically let's look at the key comment that renders everything else he said completely worthless -
"Have the actions of rogue states like Iran been moderated? No."
God help us. The irony runs rampant. Think about it. We rushed to war with Iraq because of a pack of lies about WMD's in the hands of wicked Muslims who suicidally wanted to kill us all. And yet on several occasions now, our Kev's been busily banging the drum about Iran. For those who've been living in a cave and haven't heard Kev and Rupert's other talking heads, Iran is, a) about to possess WMD's, b) are wicked Muslims, and c) suicidally want to kill us all. Check, check, check. Good thing we're all as thick as pigshit. Two minute hate double plus good! What do you think Kev?
According to Rupe's broadsheet The Australian, he thinks, 'Australians had to learn from the pre-war errors of judgement about Iraq, and not repeat the same mistakes.' Ha ha ha ha ha. What fatuous shit! The only way I can make sense of this last statement is if I add a few words of clarification - in the interests of precision, you understand. It thus becomes - 'Australians had to learn from the pre-war errors of judgement about Iraq, and not repeat the same mistakes about Iraq.' Perhaps that's what he meant, because he's sure as hell not talking about Iran since he's red-hot keen to have us make those same 'mistakes' all over again.
To be perfectly honest I don't think Rudd believes a word he's saying. I reckon he'd be perfectly happy to leave troops in Iraq. He's certainly happy to leave them in Afghanistan. The list of sophomoric self-answered points he made about Iraq could exactly be replicated about Afghanistan. Why don't I put words in his mouth? 'Was paying and arming war-lords to crush the Taliban a good idea? No. The opium crops which had been eliminated under the Taliban have now reappeared and the resultant heroin is flooding Russia and Europe. And here too, soon enough.' But Kev won't say any such thing. Since he wasn't committed to leaving Afghanistan by previous leaders and shadow-cabinets he doesn't give a shit.
The only reason he pulled out troops from Iraq (just some, not all) is because he had no choice. The criticism he made of the war was as gentle and as irrelevant as he could make it. Since our troops were only ever symbolic, their withdrawal was likewise symbolic. Symbolism aside, he barely differs from his doppelganger, Howard. Rudd is, like Howard was, perfectly committed to the Murdoch/neocon/CFR/international banking agenda (call it what you will) and his removal of troops and his criticism of the war was the tiniest sop to the anti-war mob he could get away with. I have no doubt he checked with his masters to see if it was all okay with them.
I'll say it as clearly as I can. Rudd is bullshit - a puppet to those who control our economy. He is no one's saviour. He is to Australian Labor what Tony Blair was to English Labour. If you're anti-war, anti-imperialist, or just plain-old right-thinking your last best hope was Mark Latham. Know that he wasn't assassinated in Murdoch's media for no reason. Rudd is Murdoch's man. He ain't yours. Like the people of Afghanistan, you're going to cop what you're going to cop. Rudd's job is to wear a suitably pained expression, utter inanities and hope that Rupert's right, and that no one will ever wake up to it all.