Friday, April 20, 2007

Banana Republics

Within hours of the polls opening in Nigeria, the ballots are not even in the country! This is a big country, with crap transport, and there are 120,000 polling stations needing those ballots - if you can call shacks with no ballot papers "polling stations"...

Never mind, the government won't care how people vote anyway. These elections are just to humour the "international community".

With this scale of incompetence and contempt for the electorate, Nigeria is in danger of being compared to the United Kingdom - remember the election the judge said "would disgrace a banana republic"?

Wipe that grin off your face, Tony Blair - history will be cruel. Why not try on the more fitting dumbfounded-shit-for-brains look of your Nigerian counterpart.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Following the Cricket

Australia and New Zealand have confirmed their places in the semi-finals. If you're having trouble telling your backward square leg from your silly mid off, then here's something to help.

And if you neither knew nor cared that the Cricket World Cup is in full swing in the West Indies, then you might like to start here:

Which Are You?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Unseen Cause of Global Warming

Please don't get me wrong, I'm all for clean energy and protecting the environment but not at the expense of sane, rational, clear thinking. But the hype that surrounds the "Global Warming" bandwagon makes me deeply suspicious.

Perhaps its because I'm old enough to remember the hype around "Global Cooling" in the 1970s that led to the banning of CFCs. Back then we were all going to freeze to death and the Australian Great Barrier Reef was going to be destroyed before the end of the century. Well, the century came and went and that little piece of propaganda was conveniently forgotten. Apparently, Global Warming will destroy it by 2020.

I won't be surprised if our grandchildren look back on us as the generation of Henny Penny, the Post-Cold War generation that lacked a super villain and so got all upset about the sky falling.

Anyway, the guts of this post is to point you to an obscure comment by National Geographic that points out that Mars has warmed by roughly the same amount as the Earth over roughly the same period of time.

Evidently, the Martians aren't looking after their planet either.

As a side note, author Michael Crichton has an interesting perspective on all this

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The White Man's Burden

If you haven't heard the buzz yet, Kevin Garrad, an American solider in Iraq, was saved when an AK-47 round passed through his iPOD before being stopped in his flak jacket (ordinarily, at close range, flak jackets won't stop an AK round).

But perhaps the most amazing part of this story is the swarm of debate it has unleashed. On one hand, the majority of people (myself included) have found it a pleasant curiosity, a novel and perhaps somewhat humorous by-line in the whole Iraq fiasco. On the other hand, some have used this as a soap box on which to bellow out their dogma (both pro and anti war).

I think there's a third alternative that sits between the pro/anti stance and that is understanding that this is just another example of the white man's burden.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The US meant well in Iraq but has paid an awful price for being naive about "bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East." Freedom is something that has to be found, it can't be imported. Like nature, politics and religion abhor a vacuum. If there's no hunger, no desire for freedom, something else is going to fill that void. And all of your well-meaning sincere efforts and mine won't make a damn bit of difference.

Initially, I was all for the war and liberating the Iraqis. Now... I'm in stasis. I'd like to see freedom succeed, but I'm no longer as naive as I was.

Rudyard Kipling penned The White Man's Burden over a hundred years ago. Somewhat ironically it is almost universally interpreted as encouraging pro-American imperialism when, in fact, it is a facetious, scathing, sarcastic review of the folly of forcibly spreading Pax Americana (the American peace).

Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden--
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden--
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper--
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden--
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden--
Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke (1) your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden--
Have done with childish days--
The lightly proferred laurel, (2)
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

This could have been written about Iraq today. I bet Kevin is thankful he didn't have to pay the white man's burden.

The lesson learnt in Iraq:
You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Music Lovers

The Internet just gets better and better for music lovers. First there were "radio stations" then pandora and now finetune. It's a bag of mixed lollies, but here's some classics I've enjoyed over the years.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Pweor Of The Hmuan Mnid.

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

So it semes I ralely ddint drvesee thsoe lusoy grdas in Hgih Sohcol Enslgih

Great Mysteries of Life

1 Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are flat?

2 Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough?

3 Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

4 Why doesn't glue stick to the bottle?

5 Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?

6 Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

7 Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a gun at him?

8 Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

9 Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?

10 What is the speed of darkness?

11 Are there specially reserved parking spaces for non-disabled people at The Special Olympics?

12 If you send someone 'Styrofoam', how do you pack it?

13 If the temperature is zero outside today and it's going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?

14 If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

15 Why do cars have a three-point seatbelt while planes have only a lap-belt?

16 Do married people live longer than single ones or does it only seem longer?

17 If someone with a split personality threatens to commit suicide, is it a hostage situation?

18 Can you cry under water?

19 What level of importance must a person have, before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

20 If money doesn't grow on trees then why do banks have branches?

21 Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

22 How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on bigger suitcases?

23 Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up, like, every two hours?

24 If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?

25 Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

26 Why do doctors, when they ask you to strip, leave the room or close the cubicle curtain while you change? ............ they're still going to see you naked anyway.

27 Why don't we spell phonetic the way it sounds?

28 Is it just me, or is it weird that weird has an i after the e instead of before. Is that why it's weird?

29 If someone's crying, why do we ask if they're OK?

I was trying to hit thirty, poaching some classics from off the net, but I couldn't quite get there. If you have any other bona fide great mysteries of life, please leave a comment...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Eternal Sunset

The Eternal Sunset takes me back to when I was working & studying in Scotland and the beautiful midnight sunsets we'd enjoy in summer. I'd stand outside with a cup of coffee and enjoy watching the majestic sun setting behind the hills north of Stirling each night before heading back in doors and drawing the blackout curtains so I could get some sleep in the ever-present twilight. Winter, now that was a different story...

Do you love a beautiful sunset? Then regardless of what time of day it is where you are, you can now enjoy live sunsets from around the world, 24x7...