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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.


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.