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Year 2006

Plagiarism and intellectual loot

The mar­ket­place of ideas, like any mar­ket­place, is fit only for looting.

Russell Brown, straw men and withdrawal from Iraq

Like many Kiwis on the net I enjoy read­ing Rus­sell Brown’s blog, Hard News, but every now and then some­thing goes ter­ribly ter­ribly wrong.

It’s all just a big misunderstanding

Kirk Mac­Gib­bon, a New Zeal­ander liv­ing in New York, says that Kiwi’s are pre­ju­dice against Amer­ic­ans and that this comes from, amongst other things, “their lim­ited under­stand­ing of Amer­ican for­eign policy.”

But we’re not the only ones to lack under­stand­ing. Much of the world mis­un­der­stands U.S. for­eign policy, espe­cially those who have to deal with it at the end of a gun barrel.

Revoking Baptism and Confirmation

I spent my early teen­age years attend­ing a cath­olic high school where debate about the more dubi­ous aspects of organ­ised reli­gion was rel­at­ively open, so I’ve gen­er­ally had an atti­tude of live and let live; as long as people don’t attempt to impose their fairy tales on me I won’t get on their backs about how silly they’re being.

The propaganda war against Iran

A few points to keep in mind if you’re both­er­ing to fol­low the cur­rent pro­pa­ganda cam­paign being waged against Iran.

Information War: 85% of U.S. troops in la la land

A recent poll of U.S. troops in Iraq shows that 85% say the mis­sion is mainly “to retali­ate for Saddam’s role in the 9 – 11 attacks.”

More photos from Iraq

While rum­ma­ging through one of my draw­ers today I came across a small memory card for the digital cam­era I took to Iraq in 2003, and it held pho­tos that I’d for­got­ten I had.

They murder while we accidently kill

I’ve lost count of the num­ber of times I’ve run into right-wingers who seem to have an unwaver­ing belief that the crimes of their foes are be loudly pro­claimed and harshly pun­ished while their own crimes are to be wholly jus­ti­fied in the pur­suit of their ideo­logy. The ends jus­ti­fies the means apparently.

Quotations

A couple of people now have asked me to post the quotes that cur­rently appear at ran­dom in the top right hand corner of my blog, so here they are in ran­dom order. I’ll add new ones at the top.

Through­out the world, on any given day, a man, a woman or child is likely to be dis­placed, tor­tured, killed or “disappeared,” at the hands of gov­ern­ments or armed polit­ical groups. More often than not, the United States shares the blame. —Amnesty Inter­na­tional, 1996

The 20th cen­tury has been char­ac­ter­ized by three devel­op­ments of great polit­ical import­ance: the growth of demo­cracy; the growth of cor­por­ate power; and the growth of cor­por­ate pro­pa­ganda as a means of pro­tect­ing cor­por­ate power against demo­cracy. —Alex Carey

What do I want from this life? What makes you happy is not enough. All the things that sat­isfy our instincts only sat­isfy the animal in us. I want to be proud of myself. I want more. I want to look up to myself and when I die, I want to smile because of the things I have done, not cry for the things I haven’t done. —Tom Hurn­dall (a friend of mine who I met in Iraq, he was murdered by an Israeli soldier)

To ini­ti­ate a war of aggres­sion … is not only an inter­na­tional crime; it is the supreme inter­na­tional crime dif­fer­ing only from other war crimes in that it con­tains within itself the accu­mu­lated evil of the whole. —Nuremberg Trial Pro­ceed­ings, 30th Septem­ber 1946

Choice is an illu­sion, cre­ated between those with power, and those without. —The Mer­ovingian, The Mat­rix Reloaded

The Pentagon admits that it has no intel­li­gence at all … —CNN, 21st March 2003

The West won the world not by the superi­or­ity of its ideas or val­ues or reli­gion but rather by its superi­or­ity in apply­ing organ­ized viol­ence. West­ern­ers often for­get this fact; non-Westerners never do. —Samuel P. Hunt­ing­ton, The Clash of Civil­iz­a­tions and the Remak­ing of World Order (Note: if you want to know why the West became super­ior at apply­ing organ­ised viol­ence have a read of Guns, Germs, and Steel.)

Why of course the people don’t want war … But, after all, it is the lead­ers of the coun­try who determ­ine the policy, and it is always a simple mat­ter to drag the people along, whether it is a demo­cracy, or a fas­cist dic­tat­or­ship, or a par­lia­ment, or a com­mun­ist dic­tat­or­ship … voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bid­ding of the lead­ers. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the paci­fists for lack of pat­ri­ot­ism and expos­ing the coun­try to danger. —Her­mann Goering

Crime is naught but mis­dir­ec­ted energy. So long as every insti­tu­tion of today, eco­nomic, polit­ical, social, and moral, con­spires to mis­dir­ect human energy into wrong chan­nels; so long as most people are out of place doing the things they hate to do, liv­ing a life they loathe to live, crime will be inev­it­able, and all the laws on the stat­utes can only increase, but never do away with, crime. —Emma Gold­man

The nation­al­ist not only does not dis­ap­prove of atro­cit­ies com­mit­ted by his own side, but he has a remark­able capa­city for not even hear­ing about them. —George Orwell

In 1996, Madeleine Albright, then the US sec­ret­ary of state, was asked on national tele­vi­sion what she felt about the fact that 500,000 Iraqi chil­dren had died as a res­ult of US-led eco­nomic sanc­tions. She replied that it was ‘a very hard choice,’ but that, all things con­sidered, ‘we think the price is worth it.’ —Madeleine Albright

Win­ston Peters: the only mem­ber of Par­lia­ment named after a con­crete block. —David Lange

… our coun­try is now geared to an arms eco­nomy which was bred in an arti­fi­cially induced psy­chosis of war hys­teria and nur­tured upon an incess­ant pro­pa­ganda of fear. —Douglas MacAr­thur Amer­ican mil­it­ary leader

The Inter­net inter­prets cen­sor­ship as dam­age and routes around it. —John Gilmore

Got noth­ing against no Viet Cong. No Viet­namese ever called me a nig­ger. —Muhammad Ali, upon hear­ing the news that he is to be draf­ted. (Attributed)

It is not desir­able to cul­tiv­ate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. —Henry David Thoreau

The propagandist’s pur­pose is to make one set of people for­get that cer­tain other sets of people are human. —Aldous Hux­ley

This notion that the United States is get­ting ready to attack Iran is simply ridicu­lous. (Short pause) And hav­ing said that, all options are on the table. (Laughter). —George W. Bush

Every­one fights with their abil­it­ies — the Israelis have heli­copters and rock­ets and the Palestini­ans have noth­ing but them­selves and some very prim­it­ive home-made explos­ives. —Lea Tsemel

I grew up in an Israeli cul­ture where sui­cide attack­ers are really her­oes. Look at Sam­son, who in order to fight the Phil­istines in Gaza made the theatre col­lapse on him­self and all the civil­ians there. He is a very big hero among Jew­ish chil­dren. I grew up on the myth of bet­ter sui­cide than sur­render. So what is so spe­cial about sui­cide bombers? —Lea Tsemel

I think the Iraqi people owe the Amer­ican people a huge debt of grat­it­ude. That’s the prob­lem here in Amer­ica. They won­der whether or not there is a grat­it­ude level that’s sig­ni­fic­ant enough in Iraq. —George W. Bush, demon­strat­ing Amer­ican delu­sion and arrogance.

Back in London

So much for hav­ing wads of time to blog, I’m back in Lon­don now. Tak­ing a hol­i­day in NZ doesn’t involve a whole lot of time indoors.

For­tu­nately I man­aged to do some things I’ve wanted to do since I was a teen: walked around Lake Waikare­moana with my father and brother, sailed through Mil­ford Sound, and hitched up the West Coast of the South Island.

Just out of Te Anau, next to a river on the way to Milford Sound, Aotearoa.

More pho­tos on Flickr.com.

One inter­est­ing thing to come out of it for me is the real­isa­tion that Aotearoa is not so much unique for its wil­der­ness but for the isol­a­tion of its wil­der­ness. I love Lon­don because there’re so many bloody people here, of all walks of life. Con­versely what I love about NZ is the fact that there’s almost no people, and the cul­ture that grows from that.

While I was back it took me some time to get used to any­body within a five metre radius say­ing hi or kia ora. And I remem­ber arriv­ing in NZ with a list of things that I’d given myself a week to do. I crossed off the last item by lunch time of the first day. No queues, no items out of stock, no park­ing prob­lems. No dramas.

Unfor­tu­nately, given a chance, the growth imper­at­ive of our cur­rent infant­ile eco­nomic sys­tem will likely put an end to all this even­tu­ally, includ­ing the pur­ity of the NZ wilderness.