Wednesday, March 26, 2008

[thought for the day] wednesday evening

Have you considered:

When Beckham gets his 100th cap, 1,321,851,888 people in China won't care.

[olympics] politics versus sport

Well, you know, this is a tough call:

The problem is China's human rights record in Tibet, which it has ruled since annexation in 1949. On March 10, anti-government, pro-Tibetan independence protests started in the capital of Lhasa to mark the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against the Chinese Communist Party's rule. It turned violent four days later. Tibet's government-in-exile estimates 140 people have since been killed by Chinese troops.

It never alters, the politics and sports dilemma:

Freney was the major organiser, with Meredith Burgmann, of the demonstrations during the 1971 Springbok tour of Australia. The protestors, through their theatrical antics, caused this to be the last such tour; it was a major setback for the apartheid regime in South Africa, and a mind-altering event in Australia.

Right back to Hitler's time and before:

From the very beginning of the project, Hitler recognized the political value of architecture as a vehicle to proselytize Nazi Socialism and he mandated that not only should the stadium be constructed entirely with German materials but that in appearance it must enhance the collective tribalism that would resurrect the majesty of the Volk.

One of German fascism's first major architectural statements, the entire Wagnerian scale venue reflected the chauvinistic agenda of the Third Reich: statues and reliefs celebrated Aryan athletic youth, the Maifeld's four stone pylons were named after early Germanic tribes (Frisian, Franconian, Saxon, and Schwabian), and the Dietrich Eckart Amphitheater underscored Greco-German links--both real and imagined--to the new regime.

Sometimes it's not even for a public cause - do you remember the abandoned 3rd Test at Headingley in 1975, when vandals dug up the pitch and poured oil into it to prevent further play?

So yes, China is using the olympics, drug riddled and corrupt as it is and the question remains - should the olympics be abandoned and along with it all the idealism associated with it and the only real chance of international cameraderie?

The sense of friendship, even (dare I venture the word) cameraderie, the world en fete? Sure I think the Games will be great for London, but I find that the sport is the least attractive element and isn't that a shame for a sports nut?

Or look at the achievement of actually getting to the olympics:

The Afghan Olympic team has plenty of problems with run-down facilities and a woeful shortage of funds, but only Mehboba Andyar. the sole woman competitor, has had to prepare herself mentally for the biggest challenge of her life while dealing with sinister midnight telephone calls, the open derision of her neighbours and even police harassment.

You cancel the olympics and sure you comment on woeful human rights records and the whole thing but you also kill aspiration, hope, the cameraderie of youth and idealism.

Sure we can do that and then sink into our slough of despond or we can acknowledge the appalling hijacking and perversion of de Coubertin's ideal and concentrate more fully on the spirit of man as demonstrated by the bringing together of so many diverse elements of humanity from around the world.

It's not an easy issue.

May joy and good fellowship reign, and in this manner, may the Olympic Torch pursue its way through ages, increasing friendly understanding among nations, for the good of a humanity always more enthusiastic, more courageous and more pure. [Pierre de Coubertin]

[family] only one of seven planks

Please do go over and read the whole of this by MJW:

David Cameron’s plans to make a “family friendly” Britain are rather brave for two crucial reasons, firstly the social liberal left has done a remarkable job chipping away at the foundations of family values, supposedly for the benefit of those who choose less conventional lifestyles (and no matter what dysfunction the attitude of “all lifestyles are valid” causes). Secondly, because focusing on family values leaves the party open to criticism next time an MP lauding such values is caught shagging around.

What MJW is unconsciously and yet by accident referring to is the spitting on the family by the globalists for which this is one plank in the platform I've published at this blog a number of times. Here it is one more time [yawn]:

1) Abolition of all ordered governments
2) Abolition of private property
3) Abolition of inheritance
4) Abolition of patriotism
5) Abolition of the family
6) Abolition of religion
7) Creation of a world government

It's written down, they don't deviate from it, it's only us who waver and say it's not possible. Scroll down to the Morgan post and there is their dystopia in one - cold, grey-blue, metallic, lifeless, joyless, soulless. What an aim in life!

[climate change] shhh - the sceptics might hear

I'm modifying this post from it's original gung ho form:
A chunk of ice the size of the Isle of Man has started to break away from Antarctica in what scientists say is further evidence of a warming climate. Satellite images suggest that part of the ice shelf is disintegrating, and will soon crumble away.

The Wilkins Ice Shelf has been stable for most of the last century, but began retreating in the 1990s. Six ice shelves in the same part of the continent have already been lost, says the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). Professor David Vaughan of BAS said: "Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened.

in the light of further developments. I feel no shame in this - I just want the truth, that's all. Please leave your thoughts on the Wilkin's Ice Shelf and other matters pertaining to GW but in this manner:

1. Let's just try to present the science, not the entrenched positions

2. Let's not ignore the otehr side but try to explain their point away somehow.

3. Let's have some genuine debate on this - where one commnet follows on from the other.

4. Let's steer clear of ad hominem and attack positions with stats.

I genuinely want to know the truth on this matter.

[ugly] when beauty is in the wrong hands

You know, there's something doesn't quite grab me in this sort of thing - ballroom dancing. Maybe it's her costume which I don't see as particularly sexy, even less so the more it's cut away.

And the intensity, the unnatural movement, the competitive nature of it. Can't identify but just don't like it.

Look at the pic on the right. There's just something grasping there, strict, something not right. Maybe it's imagination.

And look at the guy's eyes - is he a robot or what?

Broadening the topic, this seems a turn off for me as well and I'd be interested in how it grabs you. But why such a turn off and many have said this?

Girls spend billions of dollars on cutting clothes away to reveal their legs and here we are with legs on display.

So what's the problem? Don't know - it's ugly. Strict. Unnatural. Not right. Controlled by someone.

And what of good ole anorexia? Do you cringe when you see this image [right] or do you think she looks oh so beautiful? And don't even start me on tatts and piercing.

Is natural not enough? Is Low the new aspiration? Or is it some sort of cry for help?

And the haute couture [left]. Who thinks this is beautiful? Maybe my receptors are different to yours but I labelled this photo "body but not soul".

We have a salon of beauty near us here and their board outside has a girl who might be beautiful but she's presented with black eyes and black everything like something which crawled out of the crypt. Maybe these are handmaidens for the evil one, who knows?

This is presented as chic and the ladies are meant to be enticed to come inside. Really? I'd run a mile.

OK, OK, maybe this is the whole point - to appear as ugly as possible in some sort of attempt to stick it up the men they hate. And women hate men just as much or more than men supposedly hate women. I don't hate women - is there something sick in my head for being like that?

But the above is sure not beautiful in any sense of the word I understand.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

[thought for the day] tuesday evening

I sometimes ponder:

It was a brave man who discovered that frogs' legs were edible.

[tasmania] this evening's quiz

A lady and I were discussing her Map of Tasmania the other night and the difficulty of negotiating such rugged terrain and so it was only right that this evening's quiz is on Tasmania:

1. Which was the state of Australia left off the Brisbane Commonwealth Games opening ceremony Map of Australia?

2. When a north-easterner is asked if she's ever been to the capital and she asks, "Wot, Launceston?" which state could it possibly be?

3. Which state was named after Abel Tasman, who first charted the island in 1642 and originally named it Van Diemens Land?

4. Which state is 20% World Heritage-listed by Unesco ?

In which state must walkers be beware of “horizontals” - trees whose slender trunks fall over and then produce new upright trunks, eventually producing a dense matted tangle, impossible to get through.

Yes I know, reader - fiendishly difficult quiz but
do try your best. :)

[morgan] yawn - same old motif

Yep - they certainly do that - read on

Stolen straight from Vox:

Confirmation of what I wrote about in yesterday's column, as if it was needed:

Adam Smith’s invisible hand has a puppeteer: the Federal Reserve. In case there is any confusion about who was pulling the strings behind the scenes of JPMorgan Chase’s acquisition of Bear Stearns, the curtain was lifted Monday. By raising its bid — with the grudging approval of the Fed — to $10 a share, from $2, JPMorgan exposed what had long been whispered about but no one dared to say aloud: the Fed is officially in the deal-making business.

And one question - does this constitute control economics?
"Moreover, this is a signal that the FOMC is now willing to take charge of market expectations in an attempt to avoid being forced into an undesirable steep path of monetary easing."

And are the Fed in bed with Morgan?
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will provide 29 bln usd in financing for JP Morgan's takeover of Bear Stearns, the New York Fed announced today.

And does Morgan itself have a criminal past?

J.P. Morgan was accused of helping Enron to disguise its debt. The firm fronted money to begin LJM2, a partnership company started by Enron’s Andrew Fastow, which purchased four Enron assets. These purchases allowed Enron to record misleading positive earnings in 1999. Enron later repurchased the assets.

And has JP Morgan always been at hand in an unpreventable crisis?

Ron Chernow in his book The Death of the Banker offers this account of the 1907 Panic, "In the following days, acting like a one-man Federal Reserve system, [J. Pierpont] Morgan decided which firms would fail and which survive. Through a non stop flurry of meetings, he organized rescues of banks and trust companies, averted a shutdown of the New York Stock Exchange, and engineered a financial bailout of New York City."

And how did JP Morgan start up anyway? We'll have to dip into Mullins for this:

Corsair, the Life of J.P. Morgan,34 tells us that the Panic of 1857 was caused by the collapse of the grain market and by the sudden collapse of Ohio Life and Trust, for a loss of five million dollars. With this collapse nine hundred other American companies failed. Significantly, one not only survived, but prospered from the crash.

In Corsair, we learn that the Bank of England lent George Peabody and Company five million pounds during the panic of 1857. Winkler, in Morgan the Magnificent
35 says that the Bank of England advanced Peabody one million pounds, an enormous sum at that time, and the equivalent of one hundred million dollars today, to save the firm. However, no other firm received such beneficence during this Panic.

Crisis, drop in confidence, jittery markets and buy-ups - all in a day's work for Morgan.

[birdsnest] when design becomes danger

Oh my goodness!

The Societe d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE) has announced that Serero Architects of Paris has won a competition to redesign the structure's public viewing platform and reception areas.

The winning design, which will be 276 metres above the ground, will not require permanent modification of the existing structure. It will double the capacity of the public viewing area on the tower's top floor.

The new platform will be bolted onto the tower using a web of Kevlar, an extremely strong and lightweight carbon fibre used in the construction of racing cars and body armour. The platform will use a cantilevered design similar to the way an aircraft's wings are attached to the fuselage.

What they fail to mention is that kevlar, though longitudinally strong, has a shelf life when exposed to the elements - any sailor knows that, kevlar being one of the main design materials.

It is also puncture vulnerable and subject to compressive failure, especially when bent. Any site here can tell you that.

Couple that with the French penchant for elan, for outrageous concepts which more than seldom fail in the initial stages and IMHO, there is here a recipe for disaster - plus it's ugly.

An example of French engineering was the hydrofoil and in particular, Hydroptere. In the photo to the left, this is how she should have sailed.

The photo lower right shows how she did sail.

Similarly, the French C Class Otip used a "flip-over" hard sail, designed to maximum efficiency.

The photo lower right shows the result.

So enjoy the new birds nest if you dare and I'll watch the result from the lower etage. And as if on cue, here is an advert for underpinning your French property.

The Tangled Web

The shadowland between sanity and insanity seems murky and the catalyst is usually mental trauma.

Keeping your feet firmly rooted in reality is pretty difficult if your head's full of air, always wanting to lift off - the mind's capacity to delude itself that something pleasant and fulfilling is the truth when nothing is further from the truth - how often does that happen?

Everyone wants to feel valued by at least one person, usually husband/wife and family, wants to feel they'd be difficult to replace - the indispensability factor.

I know one lady who is so vital to her husband, children, primary work, secondary work and younger grown-up sister that she's exhausted in her nonetheless fulfilling existence. Shouldn't mention names but I see people like Ellee Seymour in that connection as well.

Then there are the rest of us and we all carve out our existence with varying degrees of success. How many 40ish divorced males are out there sitting at computer keyboards and assuaging their self-esteem through internet connections? How many mothers, wanting some sort of fulfilment beyond family demands, are surfing the net? Let alone the motives of the young.

Somewhere in this maze of cyberconnections, personal relationships can be established and I don't accept the view of certain friends here that these are only virtual relationships. Depends how we enter them but I'd say the technology is quite good enough today to gain an idea with whom we're dealing. I mean, face to face we can still be told the same lies but the devices we do have can be better than face to face.

Remove all the other factors like shyness and the defensive need for small talk plus the pressure to instantly respond to the other in a real meeting, remove the obligations in a night out, remove the need to be done up to the nines with perfume and mascara, it seems to me it's possible to get quite real, to get down to important details fairly rapidly using a medium like one-to-one chat.

Logically, you need to go next to Skype and then to real contact if it's going to get anywhere but I know of one particular person where a very real connection can be maintained, albeit thousands of kilometres apart. Trouble is that the connection itself can be tenuous - today my internet has dropped out and that's the end of relations for now. And at any moment the plug can be pulled, which is not the case with two people in a room.

In the end it comes down to honesty, that quality we demand of the other but are ambivalent about when applied to ourselves. Last night I was devastated by what might be a misunderstanding but might be a lie by omission of relevant details, by the painting of a false picture. Have to wait and see.

I'm no stranger to the lie myself and did it twice in the last two weeks on matters I really didn't want known. In the end I told all and how much damage it did seems now to have been significant. But what - would it have been better to continue in an untruth? I don't want that in any friendship and they have to accept me as I am or not at all. Probably that means not at all.

After the lie comes the misunderstanding. Again last night, it was the discovery of seemingly possible lies of omission by the person I love which had me on edge and when I was talking to a friend-friend, something was said by her, it reminded me of the first situation, connected with roses and gardens actually, I went into my shell and couldn't continue, she immediately feared the worst that she'd done something wrong, the connection stopped and it was all over a misunderstanding.

So what chance of recovery from this? Well, in the case of the one I love, I'm not sure. There's so much defensiveness [my defensiveness ended last week], so much unwillingness to say, then saying, then withdrawing what was said. I'm pretty sure I know what's behind it so now it's in the hands of the Almighty.

In the case of my friend-friend, the thing which will save it, if at all, is that word "maturity" - the capacity to bend, to forgive, to be understanding of why things happen, to trust the basic feelings of the other, to know the other and that you yourself want it to continue.

IMHO this fundamental friendship is the only thing to weather the storm thrown at it.

This maturity leads to the next aspect - age and situation. I had a friend in Melbourne who was 49, I was 32 and she was 22. She and I got along well but she was in love with my friend and I had no wish to get in the way of that. They actually did marry and I had a long talk to her one day about it all, about how vulnerable he was and how happy, about what she really wanted from life and so on.

She was sure she'd found it and was in that sort of bliss which worried the hell out of me - it was pedestal stuff, masquerading as rationality. It worried me that she seemed so responsive to me and eager to talk but apparently not so much with him, if I interpreted her words correctly. I left that meeting wistful.

I heard they'd gone to America for the honeymoon, she'd run into an old flame in his mid 20s and the rest you can guess. She stayed there and he returned, a broken man, the impossible dream shattered.

I do believe, even with all evidence to the contrary, that it is possible but very rare for two people of wildly diverging backgrounds to make a go of it but there needs to be something there to begin with, some sort of common ground. Strangely, except on one point, I thought we had that last week - we certainly seemed to agree on everything under the sun and our direction seemed the same.

People tell me age only matters insofar as the younger needs already to be mature - so possibly 32 and 47 could be a goer if the younger had wisdom and already had some life experience. My ex-partner and I reconnected on Friday for five hours and though it's not going to happen while both have eyes for someone else, still it surprised and delighted both that her new found life experience definitely puts it back in the realm of possible.

Always running through the mind are the two rules of thumb that you only have a chance if the younger is half the age of the other plus seven years and the other rule - you can never go back. Both of these have been tested this past week. So with my friend 49 and her 22, the formula would mean his minimum would be 32 and she was way below that. With the hypothetical 47 above, then his minimum would be 31 and therefore that factor, at least, would not be against them.

There is one last factor which I believe trumps all and cynical guffaws in response to it cut no ice with me. I believe everyone has the capacity to and should develop his/her own personal spirituality. If you harness that to an established faith and its codes and she does too, then you're getting into an area with no rules, no formulae. Anything is now possible on the say-so of your Maker.

It might not even be the metaphysical itself - if both believe something is meant to be, is more than possible, if both are prepared to work for it, if both will understand the other's falling away and can be brought back to believe in the dream and if the feeling is strong, then the obstacles really can be overcome.

I believe this.