Attila the Pun
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Hold out that wrist
Fresh from his latest bout of deep concern, Kofi Annan has wielded the wet lettuce with vigour - after a report into the attack on the UN in Iraq, Kofi has "chastised" his deputy, sacked the security coordinator (who gets to keep his pension), moved another security coordinator, and singled out 2 low level flunkies for reprimand.
The flunkies apparently failed to heed a request to buy and install blast-resistant protective film for the hotel windows.
This whole episode can be looked at in two ways. The kinder conclusion is that the people working there really do believe that they are a universal force for good, beloved by all, and therefore never took the risk of attack seriously.
The more cynical approach is that the UN is so ridiculously bureaucratic and incompetent that they couldn't even organise security for their own headquarters.
This is the same organisation that many critics insisted had to be involved in order to make any invasion 'legitimate'. The same organisation that the new Spanish leader wants to take over the running of Iraq.
With the simmering controversy over corruption in the UN Oil for food program, I am deeply concerned that this is far too easy...
Monday, March 29, 2004
M Waugh c Old b Banger 17
Mark Waugh has split with his long term partner. Here is a tip when looking for someone new Mark - try and find a woman with an age lower than your batting average...
No way for a war hero to die
The Royal Air Force pigeon which delivered the first news of Allied success from the Normandy beaches on D-Day is to be recognised as the greatest pigeon to have served its country.
"During his mission, Gustav was reportedly buffeted by a headwind of up to 48km/h and his view of the Sun - his primary means of navigation - was obscured by heavy cloud"
Why didnt they use a radio?
And then, the crushing finale:
"Despite dodging gunfire and foul weather during the war, Gustav found peacetime more perilous and met an end when his breeder stepped on him while mucking out his loft. "
Reports of a film version being made have not been confirmed...
One nation, under Ex-Wife
An American doctor is appearing in front of the US Supreme Court to argue that his 9 year old daughter should not be exposed to the expression 'under God' during her school's daily pledge of allegiance.
On the face of it, this appears to be just another battle over religion in the US, where things like this are taken Very Seriously. It isn't until you reach the final paragraph that you realise that this might not be purely a matter of principle for Dr Newdow:
"The case has pitted Dr Newdow, 50, against formidable opponents: the Bush administration, congressional legislators, his daughter's school district and his former partner, Sandra Benning, a 44-year-old born-again Christian who has legal custody of the girl."
Chuck chuck chucky
In a statement of the bleeding obvious, the match referee in Australia's third test against Sri Lanka has reported Muralitharan for a suspected illegal bowling action. A.k.a chucking.
The referee, Chris Broad (a.k.a Captain obvious) fell over himself to stress that this was only in relation to Murali's new ball the 'doosra'. As anyone who has tried bowling a cricket ball knows, you just can't get it to spin like that unless you throw it. You can hardly blame Murali though, the game's officials let him get away with other dodgy actions, so why not keep pushing the boundaries until someone says stop?
Apparently there were requests that the curator prepare a pitching mound at each end of the wicket for Murali, but there were concerns that this would interfere with Zoysa's attempts at tripping Warne over.
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Roll up, roll up - Get your quagmires here!
Bruce Grant spins a tale of woe in the Age today.
He begins rather badly, listing the invasion of Iraq with Napoleon's and Hitler's invasions of Russia and Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour. I love the smell of hyperbole in the morning...
He then plugs his own book written "at the time of the Vietnam War" where he claims he pointed out that Australia and the US had overreached themselves and that the result would be a crisis in their foreign policy. What he doesn't mention is that this book was published in 1972 - by which time the US had pulled out 2/3 of its troops, with the rest leaving soon afterwards. Australia's commitment was also being wound down significantly. There was also severe opposition to the war. His book was hardly making any stunning conclusions.
Bruce does mention Afghanistan, which was supposed to be the intractable quagmire that many hoped for, but then quickly brushes over its inconvenient facts.
"I recall a phrase used by Condoleezza Rice to the effect that if we took more time looking for a smoking gun we could find ourselves faced with a mushroom cloud!"
Beware authors using exclamation points!!! It is usually a good sign that they are desperate to present a rather ordinary points as being extraordinary.
"We have now learned that, by invading Iraq, we not only ignored the main threat of global terrorism, which was elsewhere.."
Can you provide GPS coordinates for that threat Bruce? No? Didn't think so.
"We can hardly argue that those who did not are more likely targets."
Eh? Like France? The French have received threats from terrorists, based on the banning of headscarves in schools. Australia became a target after assisting the liberation of East Timor. Unsurprisingly, that action isn't mentioned in this article.
"Some fear another security crisis will arrive to benefit the Bush and Howard governments in an election year."
No, some fear another security crisis will arrive and kill lots more innocent people. It says something about the high handed view that many take, (it comes as no surprise to find that Bruce is an ex-diplomat) claiming a level of sophistication by looking at things in a geo-political way, rather than in a dead and maimed victims way.
"Australia was alone in its region in being part of the military attack on Iraq and has much work to do in rebuilding the kind of diplomatic confidence that was a feature of our initiatives in the region in the 1980s and '90s."
Ahh yes, we had to get to this didn't we? Bruce isn't quite cheeky enough to name Keating and Gareth Evans (with whom Bruce has written a book) as the architects of this 'golden period' of Australian diplomacy, but the subtext is there.
"I gain no pleasure from seeing the US, the greatest power on earth and a beacon of democratic values, thrashing about in disarray."
And i gan no pleasure from reading this tripe. Again though, care to provide examples of this thrashing Bruce? I will help you out. We gave the Taliban a good thrashing, and Saddam copped a hiding as well.
"The war in Iraq simplified a complex threat and distracted us from the main game."
mmmm nuance... Big picture people do hate 'simplification' - it tends to let the common folk feel they have a grasp on things that normally require the services of diplomats.
Again - main game? Is that being held in the same place that the 'main threat of terrorism' is? We could knock off two birds with one stone.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Finally its the weekend. One of the English expressions that the Franch get antsy about being used in France is "la weekend". Having regard to their propensity for striking, and demaning 35 hour weeks, I think their real problem with it is that it only lasts for deux jour...
Friday, March 26, 2004
Hasta la vista, Baby
Mike O'Dwyer's company - Metal Storm Ltd, and associated products, would usually be dismissed as the workings of a mad inventor, if it wasnt listed on NASDAQ.
Their latest gizmo is a pistol with various electronic goodies built in. One, user recognition, has been floating around for awhile, and is designed to reduce the number of "unintended killings" - usually Police being shot with their own weapons, or kids finding pappy's gun cabinet.
But now they have added voice technology, where the gun speaks several languages. A Metal Storm spokesman isnt that forthcoming about the usefulness of this attribute. I was always of the opinion that the muzzle of a gun pointed at you did not require the services of a translator.
Another purported benefit is that "the weapons are touted as lighter, cheaper and faster than conventional firearms and, because they are electrical, more easily linked to computers"
I wonder if Police officers will have to plug their gatt in at the end of the night, and whether it will use a Nokia compatiable charger. The PC compatibility is nice however - hopefully it is USB 2.0 compliant for when the next model includes polyphonic ringtones.
Roman Polanski is planning on making a version of Oliver Twist.
Is it just me, or is he not the best choice to make a film about a bunch of homeless kids?
He refers to his 1977 charges of unlawful sex with a minor as "my problems in California". As opposed to California's problem with him having sex with underage girls one presumes...
Thursday, March 25, 2004
err, i was misquoted
Tell me again that the war on terror has been a flop, and that America's actions in Afghanistan and Iraq have made the situation more dangerous. Ignoring the change of heart of Libya, or the rumblings in Iran, how about the flip flopping of the new Hamas leader.
Yesterday he was all fire and brimstone - death to the Zionists and their US puppets etc. Now, with time to reflect on exactly what will happen if they attack US interests (aka a hellacious ass-whomping) -
"We are inside Palestinian land and acting only inside Palestinian land. We are resisting the occupation, nothing else," Dr Rantisi said.
"Our resistance will continue just inside our border, here inside our own country."
And he calls himself a hardliner..
Oh, and note to Mr Rantisi - there is no Palestinian country, there never has been one. Arafat was offered one, but knocked it back. Try and bear that in mind, there's a good chap.
Willard would be pleased
Further to Singapore's efforts to remove a rat problem mentioned earlier, other outlets are expanding on the story.
Apparently the ultraviolet urine detectors were too much for the Agence France-Presse reporter, who omits them in this version.
What they do mention is the government figures for rats - 8,631 rat holes in singapore, housing approximately 12,950 rats. The scary thing about Singapore is that I can quite happily believe that those figures are accurate. You probably need to fill out some forms, most likely in triplicate, and be issued with a licence, before you can even be a rat. Thus the rat register would provide quite accurate figures...
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Armitage of one..
I realise this is slightly out of date now, but I love seeing Kerry O'Brien being told exactly where to go. Points to Richard Armitage, ex counter-insurgency officer, now Deputy Secretary of State:
KERRY O'BRIEN: Are you comfortable with the way America brought forward the date of its political handover to Iraq to June 30 and the strong perception that the deadline was dictated more by President Bush's need to reduce the weight of a potential political millstone from around his neck leading into your own presidential election rather than consideration for Iraq?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: Well I think the way you put that I'd have to respond with an eight-letter word.
The word of course would be 'nonsense'.
KERRY O'BRIEN: But it's just over three months away from that handover now and no-one can agree on an election date even for an interim government in Iraq.
They can't agree on how the vote should be conducted and the UN's position on that is far from clear?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: I think while you slept, others were working, Sir.
And witness Mr Armitages response, as an ex-serviceman himself, to O'Briens fake concern for America's casualities:
KERRY O'BRIEN: In terms of how the war is being received in America, Mr Armitage, you're a former Navy Seal, you don't think the American dead from Iraq deserve the powerful symbolism of being publicly honoured and publicly mourned rather than being brought back to America under a media ban?
RICHARD ARMITAGE: First of all, we believe that the families of these men and women who sacrificed should be accorded the first information and the respect of determining how they want to grieve.
Sorry Kez, I know the images, sorry 'powerful symbolism', of body bags coming home would really get your 'Its Vietnam again!' juices flowing, but you are just going to have to miss out this time.
Is Armitage cooler than Rummy? Probably not, but he is giving it a fair shake.
A device of limited use
In their quest to eliminate a rat problem, Singapore is using thermal imaging devices, closed-circuit cameras and ultraviolet urine detectors..
A scientist's mum somewhere should be very proud of what their son invents at work...
I can think of an appropriate hand signal to represent this idea...
Britain's Channel 4 program for the deaf has dropped certain gestures for the deaf used to depict minorities.
The gestures removed include those for Jewish (miming a hooked nose), homosexuality (a flick of a limp wrist), Chinese (index fingertips pulling the eyelids into a slant) and Indian (pointing to an imaginary spot on the forehead)
How would you replace these you wonder? Jewish is now a mime of the menorah, Chinese is now the right hand travelling from the singers heart across his chest horizontally, then down towards the hip, apparently mimicing the tunic worn in China (another stereotype!), and the sign for 'gay' is an upright thumb on one hand in the palm of the other, wobbling from side to side. I have no idea what that is supposed to mimic, and nor do i wish to.
Finally, Indian is represented by a mime of the triangular shape of the subcontinent. I have no idea what the symbol for 'triangle' is now - a mime of a corrupt cricketer perhaps?
I wonder if the symbols for Australian (opening a beer), British (tieing knots in the corner of a hankerchief and wearing it as a hat) German (reserving a deck chair by placing a towel on it) Palestinian (exploding) or Sri Lankan (bowling with an illegal action) have survived the purge...
MacGill the Dill
The Herald-Sun said today (no link) in relation to the dropping of MacGill from the Aussie test team:
"the small, fast subcontinent grounds did not suit a player who likes to have big totals to defend"
That has got to be one of the better euphemisms for "expensive no talent hack" that i have heard in awhile
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
2IC I C U
Apparently a gentleman by the name of Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi has scored one of the least desirable jobs in the world - newly named leader of Hamas chief for the Gaza Strip.
This raises two questions - 1) How exactly do you land a job like that? I am pretty sure there isnt an election among the lovely members of Hamas. Is there some sort of grand terrorist council that meets and appoints you? If the guy that Israel just knocked off was the head cheese, who appointed him? If people think selection fights in Western politics gets nasty - imagine what it is like in a suicide bomber organisation. The Catholic Church uses smoke from a chimney to announce the appointment of a new Pope. A repugnant outfit like Hamas would be quite happy to use the smoke from a burning Israeli bus i would imagine.
The second question is whether Israel should knock this guy off as well quick smart. Of course there will be further howls of outrage, and the rather tired cliche of 'creating 100 more terrorists' etc. But on an individual level, imagine trying to talk someone into becoming a high profile spokesman for an organisation whose leader walks around with gunships waiting to pounce.
Hamas relies on propaganda and publicity to survive, if their leaders are cowering in fear, and only posting messages by audio tape, their impact would be significantly reduced. Why would you volunteer for the 'honour' of becoming a suicide bomber, if the leaders arent willing to place themselves in the firing line?
Monday, March 22, 2004
How the Sheik lost his shake
Many words have been written, and will be written, about the death of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, but finally one question has been answered - how did he end up in a wheelchair? Shrapnel wound? Beating by Israeli security forces? Nope - acrobatics accident.
Of course the terrorist huggers will have a field day with regards to Israel allegedly supporting his movement in the beginning, but hey, at least the IDF acts like a good teenager, and takes out its own rubbish
Saturday, March 20, 2004
Vote 1 Osama
Peter Fray is joining the gloatfest that is going on at the Age today regarding the war. He is rubbing his hands together about the British voters giving Blair the Anzar treatment, and claims that the win for the Socialists leaves Blair as "the only influential European leader fully in support of the Iraq invasion." Whilst I dont doubt that France and Germany are the major 'powers' in Europe, that does seem to be selling New Europe a little short.
Pete then quotes a poll suggesting that "one in five Labour voters at the 2001 election would switch their vote in the event of an attack". What are these people on? Still, that is only one appeaser in every five.
Fray is bright enough to point out that an anti-war vote in Britain wouldnt go to the tories, which pretty much leaves the Lib-Dems. That would be as big a disgrace as Australians giving the balance of power (or any power) to the greens. shudder.
He finishes by not bothering to hide his feelings on the matter:
"unless, that is, British voters follow their Spanish counterparts and decide before then that enough is enough.
Enough what? Enough standing up to terrorists? Enough dictators removed?
The sound of Lankan on willow
Australia won the second test (and therefore the series) by 27 runs. Warne picked up his 4th 5 wicket haul in a row. This now means that Courtney Walsh's record of most wickets may be taken by either a drug cheat or a chucker. I am hoping it is the drug cheat..
For the nerds
If you dont already read the online comic Penny arcade, you should.
Use the back button under the comic to scroll through their archives. Some comics wont make sense without the news post attached to it. Most comics wont make any sense to anybody that doesnt spend at least part of their life worshipping at the feet of the various console Gods.
How do I love dictators? Let me count the ways
First up is this item on the 'Peace' rallies in Australia (and the rest of the world). Lets have a look at it shall we?
A Sydney rally, which at one point swelled to about 6000, included a large contingent of Muslims carrying "Muslims for Peace" banners bearing a dove symbol.
Wow, a whole six thousand? Thats nearly half the amount of people that Saddam used to knock off each year, before the 'occupation' that these people are protesting about occured of course. And it isn't muslims for peace that anybody has a problem with - its muslims for blowing up westerners that we take a disliking for. This next bit i dont even understand:
as protesters dressed as US President George W Bush and Prime Minister John Howard straddled a massive fake missile and lewdly embraced. Whatever floats your boat i guess.
The Stop the War Coalition-organised rally at Sydney's Hyde Park included several symbolic acts such as the toppling of a small doll symbolising Mr Howard, in a parody of Saddam Hussein's statue being pulled down in Baghdad. Thanks for explaing that one to us AAP, I am sure the witty symbolism of that one would have otherwise gone right over our petty non-journalist minds.
Former Office of National Assessments (ONA) analyst Andrew Wilkie and journalist John Pilger were among the speakers at Hyde Park, where actor Judy Davis also read a poem. HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA
In Canberra, about 250 people rallied in the city centre where they were addressed by local trade unionists, politicians and refugee advocates. Really packing them in I see. Maybe the other thousands got lost in Canberra's damn roundabouts.
Most of the protests today, and those scheduled for tomorrow, were organised by the groups that brought thousands to the streets last year in a failed bid to stop the invasion of Iraq. Hope that makes them feel really good. And I hope that the scenes of Iraqis celebrating not being summarily executed, and expressing hope and optimism about their country's future makes them feel really really bad.