Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Euthanasia Baby

Woolly Days saw a news report recently of a complaint about Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby’s treatment of the euthanasia issue.

In M$B the heroine boxer Hilary Swank is paralysed from the neck down after an incident in her title fight. She asks her trainer (Clint himself) to assist her to commit suicide.

He goes through much agonising and has a brave discussion with a local Catholic priest about his dilemma. The priest says to him ‘Do this thing and you will go so far within yourself, you’ll never come out.”

Despite this advice, he (Clint) eventually carries out his boxer’s wishes to end her suffering.

The complainant in the news report (an American right-to-lifer) says this outcome is an unfair treatment of euthanasia and that not everyone in hospital wants to put an end to themselves.

Furthermore, Eastwood was giving a misleading and dangerous impression with his film, he said.

Eastwood begged to differ. He said he was not necessarily in favour of euthanasia but merely telling a story.

And a damn fine story it is too. Not too soon either, as such a serious topic fully deserves prime screen time. An honest and open debate on the merits of mercy killing is well overdue. There are too many people in pain in so-called palliative care. These people have the right to die if they so freely choose. Society should not have the right to stop them or punish those, who usually in the interest of deep love, assist them in their escape.

It should be possible to frame legislation such that limited and life-threatening situations have a way out that does not involve long drawn-out painful deaths. We treat horses humanely, why do we treat humans like horses? Or why don’t we?

This is a left-over remnant of an ancient Catholic ethos that has served its day and ought to be given a mercy killing of its own. Of course, the Catholics and their fundamentalist allies will resist such change fiercely on ideological grounds. They do not care about the pain inflicted. The principle is more important. It is also a huge matter of power.

Another remnant of Biblical humanism that needs to be exposed.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Growing up in Hail Holy Catholic Ireland, Hell was a very immediate and scary place.

Though Woolly Days would have been hard pushed to tell you exactly where it was, it had to be on a signpost somewhere. Pointing Down.

Buried deep below, somewhere beneath the molten crust lay a hot fiery realm where firefighters dare not go and Lucifer, the fallen recidivist angel, ruled.

He was the devil and he came equipped with scaly horns, an angular face ideally suited to deep throaty evil laughs, a scalding hot trident, and he had a tail too.

This misbegotten monster was the honcho of a horrible heaven’s oven which is exactly where Woolly Days would end up, baked for an eternity, if it didn’t behave.

Though Ireland is a country of cool, damp temperate climate, the prospect of spending eternity and beyond in the cosy warm fireside of hell was not enarmouring.

The word hell itself is short, sharp and ominous. Barely a small round ‘o’ short of a greeting but a long way shy of a welcome, however warm.

Its stunning reality and half conceived scariness allied to the immediate but just out of sight location made it the stuff of boyhood nightmares. Of course, we all grew older and wiser and geology told me enough about the Earth’s core to dispel the likelihood of a Middle Earth address for Hell.

Though it also confirmed the centre of the planet was an extremely hot place. The temperature at the core is several thousand degrees Celsius.

Alas such an environment combined with the great pressure is singularly unsuitable for a flame-ridden hotel of lost souls let alone have planning permission for all the fire escapes.

And so Hell drifted back into the imagination in search of a more hospitable home in the universe. It remains part of Catholic Orthodoxy but its geography is now a matter of conjecture. The damned are homeless pending an official enquiry.

Meanwhile, the fans of Galatasaray FC in Istanbul have put their home ground forward as one of the candidate sites. Welcome to Hell.

Elegy of an Ipswich Graveyard
The car careers past crosses at speed
fleeting crops of a body dump looms near
my daughter pipes up in inquisitive wonder
“Daddy, is Princess Diana buried here?”
In my head two conflicting emotions flicker
I laugh and guardedly tell her “no”
Her bones are the property of Public Grief Incorporated
Who have nothing better on offer to show
But I’m also disturbed by a child’s fascination
With a cold icon of the toilet paper press
Who worship the patron saint of Imagedom
And pronounce the gospel according to Couldn’t Care Less
And as these one dollar pages throb with misery
A tear factory canned and bottled for mass presumption
Disney fascination of the stupidly incredible
enjoying nimby death is the common consumption
So can I be honest and answer her question
Or will I deflect this longing with a knowing smirk
Dare I confront her energetic quest
Or frustrate her with the bureaucracy of a parental clerk
There is right and wrong and honeyed nothing
There is a sleeper policy dancing on the eyes
Throwing down the curtain on this morality play
Licking the ice cream off these saccharine lies

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Whiskey in the Jar

Woolly Days went to see the film Jarhead today.

Jean Baudrillard reckoned the First Gulf war did not exist. And as far as the Swafford lead character played by the ubiquitous Jake Gyllenhaal, Baudrillard was right. Swafford, based on a real person, did not shoot in anger during the 1991 Gulf War. By then, even an elite group such as the Marines were rendered useless by the military power of the air force.

The overriding feeling of the campaign was one of tedium and in fairness to Sam Mendes (whom I believe to be a grossly overrated director based on the evidence of the teenage skewed American Beauty and the interminably dull Road to Perdition) he manages to convey the feeling well without turning the film into an imitative exercise in boredom.

Lack of freedom, foretold

there is no one on the street
Madrid opens its eyes to meet
the interview unfolds with friends of friends
the fishbowl tells a story that never ends
the airline closes from above
how awful will a weekend be without you
the waitress senses something wrong in south true
the doorknock makes us safe and skinless
upset the dorm in mostly sinless
set design, ashamed and faking feelings
rid of pain, the other on the balcony keeling
drink and protecting from chase
royal crown feel too sick and mace
surety of what embroils us both
shitty, fitty, Mitty most
let you laugh and you can leave
cathating arms dealing peeve
the stupid thing that people feel
your friends personal, real deal
virtues, crises, argues, finishing
portraits swapping, mine diminishing
where does friendship come in the race?
in an average lifespan of average pace
freezing vodka bodies and cartoon cryonics
six million answers for close bionics
till the next the line of happiness closes
shits me with a dozen roses
sleep descends on those pretending
till kernel bogie limps life intending
phantoms, monsters, everyone gone
waking corruption of the peeping Tom
experiments that die in the mirror
beauty on the inside of terror
dreaming of moments past beauty
sometimes redeemed of rainlove's booty
liquid solution in postdeath approach
lets accept the ancient religion's coach
massive attack, bacardi and coke Valentine
out the door of whisky Ballentine
Bristol scene is replaced by masque unfrowned
joyous peseta days of the lousy pound
shit shit shit she's coming here
blah blah blah, thats life's fear
the breath of a drunk is toxic cold
the life of death is poisoned mould
bastards run to shower their lover
while injured souls seek insurance cover
phantoms, ghosts and household hosts
feel god in passing dreamlike posts

“In the name of God, the compassionate, the Merciful”

To the hafiz, the above line is immediately recognisable.

The hafiz are those people so expert in the ways of the Qur’an, they can recite the whole religious text by heart. Each ‘sura’ or revelation is prefixed by that shibboleth, such as “in the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful – Read! In the name of the Lord who created; created man from clots of blood…”

The Qur’an (which means ‘reading’) is one of the two fundamental tenets of Islam. The other is ‘sunnah’ which means method. The Sunnah is the main source of Islamic law.

The method is based on the deeds and saying of the Prophet Mohammed.

The deeds are called Sira and the sayings are called Hadith. Mohammed was illiterate but an army of scribes captured his every word and action. There are three hundred documents from the period which cover diverse aspects such as his personal life, his political doctrine, treaties, assignments and state correspondence. A whole science developed around the resulting Hadith.

Scholars developed ‘isnads’ to trace the heritage and authenticity of narrated sources. Each tradition of the prophet has an isnad along the lines of ‘x said that y said that z said that the prophet said…” Every cog in the chain was rigorously investigated by scholars to form an reliable and verifiable Hadith.

Between them, the Sunnah and the Qur’an are the key fundaments to understanding Islam. Together they are considered the theoretical and practical sides of Islam. The source for this information is ‘Introducing Islam’ by Ziauddin Sardar (with illustrations by Zafar Abbas Malik) a Pakistani born British scholar of Islam (Icon Books, UK 2001).

Burnt dung in the twisted haystack waining
Waining that is a little short of bliss
Estimated at ease o’clock whizz
Pizazz rock in business class
With a rats-own chance of understanding
Genetically modified cleansing crop
Ideas disappear into the moon
Like your work, mate
But jeez just haven’t got the time
And you’ll play the silly circus
All the way to clapped out juncture
Acupunctuation without compunction
To drip over a line in appreciation
Create tension in our throat
With the 62 muscles used to frown
Or the lesser upside down of the smile
That’s more than I want to use right now
Because you’re playing a game
You’re not being yourself
for sake me what you don’t know
Is more intriguing than what you do
Don’t you know what it takes to know?
Until editors and jewellers
Clipclipclipping and boobaloo
Cast a lure in sure silent riverplay
Of a day on islands in the chime of May
Ecuador haunting feet take the floor
Endlessly complexly uninteresting
Halfwin halo hollow horn offbeat
You have to plough the field some way
With artificially enhanced attitude
And copious unprocessed anger
Waves mewled in melancholy
filled in praise of fully dug graves
Humantrain on the hobbyhorseline
Feral timetables keening stable hearstwards
Riveted wrangler, defiled in the carcass of Caracas
The marquee of the bastard abbot
Full in their cups, caps in their cats
There when I erupt, laps on prayer mats
The opiate of the peaceful and the halal chorus
of what might Jihadbeen
Skin slightly soft and porous
Denoil nettle and lentil lions
Noble certs, serfs, scarves and scions
Dweeble heart-a-leekie on twinkle harmonium
Vicious pagan perpendicular pandemonium
petrol plus
gas a galleon
monsanto's lepanto
nonsenso infante

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Easter: Paschal Blaze

In the Christian calendar Lent is almost upon us and then Easter beckons.

The link between festival and religion is different at the latter feast than it is at its Yuletide counterpart. In many ways the celebration is less obvious though it is also stronger.

For Christians, the Crucifixion (cruci-fiction?) and subsequent Resurrection are the two single most important events in their calendar.

For secularists, Christmas is the bigger festival. The tradition of present buying and visiting family and friends are stronger at the Natal feast.

Perhaps at the subconscious level, it is because the celebration of birth is a happier time than the commemoration of death (and a violent one at that.)

Both festivals pre-date Christian times. Christianity stole the dates for its major anniversaries. They remain important times not only of ecclesiastical significance but also affording the Churches crucial airplay in materialistic times.

The relevance of the dates, demand they be heard. Urbi et Orbi.

Easter starts in earnest on Palm Sunday. The feast of the Passover is nearing and Jesus is high-tailing it for Jerusalem. Its not known just how bad Easter traffic is in those days.

He had just called in on his old mucker Lazarus, now back nicely among the living. The great man comes into town riding a donkey and is feted by the masses who garland his route with palms.

But the powers that were, weren’t happy. This man, this hero, this cynosure, could become the symbol of a new revolution. He was supposed to have royal blood; the son of David they called him.

We don’t need that kind of loose cannon in the capital. It’s hard enough to keep hegemony without interfering Nazarene preachers with regal links messing things up.

But he is popular, we need an insider in his organisation, a rat in the ranks we can buy off and find out what his intentions are. They must find out by what authority does he do these things.

That search for relevance continues to the twenty-first century.

“speech operates in the middle ground between thought and action and often substitutes for both”
I do
I know
I know I know
But how many times must I know
So that I know I do?
Sleep like the yeast
Ferment fomenting
In soapy moments
But when I pick up speed of a tornado
I spread ransack sadness
Violent rollercoaster of Lord High Speed
Must I seek forgiveness?
For this sick rate is me
The man who knew the child
The boy who saw the curl
The way, way back in me
Far away place
Years and more
I am the voice of you

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama!

In 1494, under the auspices of Pope Alexander VI, Spain and Portugal signed the treaty of Tordesillas. In this treaty they carved up the world politely - a half each - based on a point of longitude roughly down the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Most of South America lay west of the line making it Spanish spoils. The viceroyalty of Brazil’s main cities were east of the line and became Portuguese.

The Viceroyalty of New Granada was well west of the line and fervently Spanish. Thanks to the efforts of Simon Bolivar, the Congress of Panama in 1826 established many of Latin America’s modern countries. Colombia was one of these and it included the isthmus of Panama.

Panama itself became nominally independent in 1903 although thanks to the longstanding Monroe Doctrine, it was really nothing more than an American protectorate (a fate it shared with Cuba, made independent one year earlier in 1902).

The idea of a canal through this narrow isthmus had been envisaged for many years. Sailors and their passengers had long feared and cursed the time-consuming, difficult and treacherous run through Cape Horn in order to reach California and the Northern Pacific Ocean.

The French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps started the massive engineering project in 1881. Lesseps had the CV for the job. He was responsible for the successful Suez Canal which shortened the journey to India by linking the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. That idea first surfaced in 1832 and work started in 1859. It survived many a building mishap to open 10 years later.

But the Panama project in the malarial ridden Central American swamp proved beyond him. The project went bankrupt 8 years after the start in 1889. He was forced to sell out to the US government for $10 million.

The Panama Canal Act of 1912 gave the US complete control over the zone and they finally completed the massive project shortly before the start of World War I on 15 August 1914. Though thousands died in both the French and American projects, one of the side effects of the canal building project were major advances in the treatment of malaria and yellow fever.

The canal allows ships of less than 300 metres long with a draft of 12 metres access through the isthmus.

Southbound from the Caribbean entrance, ships take an 11km trip through a series of locks to Lake Gaton. Then 40kms across the lake to another set of locks down to the Pacific. The so-called Post Panamax 300+ metre ships must still tackle the vagaries of the Horn.

The Panama Canal Zone was administered by the US for most of the twentieth century and was handed back to the republic of Panama in 1999.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Inside the Hotel Rwanda

The backdrop for the story is the Hotel Des Milles Collines (which shares its name with the nickname for Kigali, town of the thousand hills, as well as the virulent propagandist pro-Hutu Power radio station RTLMC – Radio Television Libre Mille Collines.)

There Paul Rusesabagina hides his Tutsi wife, their children and 800 refugees. He had to produce a fax from Belgian hotel management in Brussels to exert his authority among reluctant staff as the 100 day extermination campaign goes on outside the precariously protected walls of the hotel grounds.

At one point in the film, Rwandan army personnel arrive to demand the refugees. Rusesabagina rings up the boss of Sabena to tell him they will all be killed. The Sabena boss wants to know who is really pulling the strings. Rusesabagina thinks for a moment and then tells him that the French are arming the Hutus.

The Sabena honcho (Jean Reno in a cameo) pulls strings with the French government to get the potential killers to withdraw – for now. Luckily for the refugees, fear of European retribution is a strong motivating force.

In another episode, he confronts a Hutu general (Bizimungu) and tells him point blank that genocide investigators will come and they look for him because of "his two general’s stars". He persuades Bizimungu the general needs him alive in order to testify on his behalf.

This is Rusesabagina’s escape route. A UN delegation comes to the hotel to help the refugees flee to the airport. The refugees had alerted their friends and relatives abroad and many now had foreign passports and visas for international travel.

However news of the delegation’s departure from the hotel is leaked to the hate radio station RTLM. They in turn stir up the militia Interihamwe (Rwandan for ‘those who attack together’) to launch an ambush. This happened frequently during the genocide.

The UN managed to defuse the ambush. Finally the convoy arrived at the front line of the war where the oppositionist RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front) kill the militia men and the refugees are ‘safe’ in rebel controlled territory.

The real-life Rusesabagina and family fled to Brussels where they still live. The Tutsi-led rebels overthrew the government in August 1994 and the genocide was over. The French also hypocritically sent in a relief force at the end of the war called Operation Turquoise well after most of the victims were killed. Estimates vary between 500,000 and 800,000 dead, all within three short months.

Hymn of Zoroaster

Beerbarn burning, lunatic churning
Fearing Druj and drudgery
Thus faked Zarathustra
Master of the house
In carnation enduring
Mazdamatters to the Bactrians
Who is the creator of Good Disposition?
Dreams of well induced laborious awakenings
Before this new crisis, consider again
Choosing one from twins
Isha, Asha we each fall found
Into the mudpool of the mind mound
All are punished in the garden
Assembled by justice, fused and wizened
Common mortals with a case of the mentals
Living in the desired abode of praise
Sincerity the key to its mystic word
Doors to the never ever eternal
Wellwishing in ruling deeds of life
Cows decide between noblemen and nomads
Spreading the gospel of twofold prosperity
Those who choose, convict
Subliminal issues from impudent voices
Lain low by lady luck or the law
Watch out for the troubled maw of ignorance
Mumbling mystic words of Druj and jury
Raise up their first amendments
And vindicate their tongues at will
Imprecations are what concern you
And the smell of lasting darkness
So that you are disposed well
let power in speech be yours to tell

A Fishy Story called Rwanda

Woolly Days recently rewatched a DVD version of Irishman Terry George's film Hotel Rwanda about the genocide in that country in 1994.

Terry George is a confederate of Jim Sheridan and he was interned in the seventies for links to Sinn Fein.

His movie invoked thoughts of the Holocaust and how the vast majority of ‘ordinary decent Germans’ could not or would not notice what terrors were going on around them.

There was an uneasy feeling that not only was it possible then, that it was possible still and that Rwanda was the modern world’s closest resemblance to the WW2 genocide.

Nothing I saw in Hotel Rwanda undid that feeling.

Wisely it did not try to generalise. Instead, it took a specific set of circumstances and personalised the experience. Don Cheadle played the real life role of Paul Rusesabegina, the Rwandan under-manager (the over manager was a white Belgian) of the Sabena owned Hotel Des Milles Collines (Hotel of the thousand hills of Rwanda and pronounced 'Mickeleen') in the Rwanda capital Kigali.

It was a four star hotel and it was a centre of international activity in Rwanda. Rusesabegina's key role was to "maintain the dignity of the hotel at all times". He was also a Hutu married to a Tutsi.

The story starts in early 1994 just before the assassination of president Habyarimana. The president had gone to neighbouring Tanzania to sign a peace settlement with the rebel Tutsis. On return to Rwanda, his plane which also contained the Tutsi president of Burundi was shot down at he tried to land. All aboard were killed.

The genocide started within 24 hours. The Hutu militant radio (also invoking the thousand hills in its name – Radio Television Milles Collines) led the charge with a fierce volley of hate propaganda. "The Tutsis must have killed our president, we must get revenge," they said. It exhorted all Hutus to weed out "the cockroaches" – their unmistakable code for Tutsis.

The situation was not helped when European peacekeepers were withdrawn after 10 of its Belgian number were killed by Rwandan militia groups. Memories of the then-recent deaths of Americans in Somalia, and bodies dragged around the streets of Mogadishu by taxi, were still fresh. The Europeans withdrew leaving the bloody stage to be defended by a small 250-man UN international group (mostly Pakistani).

The Belgian manager of the hotel retreats to corporate HQ in Brussels and leaves Paul in charge. The building is quickly transformed into a refugee sanctuary protected by a thin veneer of light blue – the small remaining troops of UN Canadian general Romeo Dallaire (played with genuine exasperation by Nick Nolte) working miracles with his minor army. The precarious support of the Police is maintained by adroitly placed bribes – a skill Paul has in abundance as a hotel functionary.

The 800 Tutsi refugees in the hotel survive by marshalling their overseas relatives to gain visas and by Paul's ability to get support from the head of Sabena to get the French (who were arming the Rwandans) to intervene.

All around them, the massacres take place. Between half a million and eight hundred thousand (no one is really sure) Tutsis died in three months. The world did nothing.

There are chilling resemblances to the current situation in Darfur, equally unloved and neglected by the West. The wheels of genocide turn again.

Terry George has done the world a great service with this noble and heartfelt work.

The real Paul Rusesabegina emigrated with his wife and family and is now living in Belgium, Rwanda's former colonial master.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mary Jew Anna

Just finished reading a book I picked up from the library called “Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts: A Review of the Scientific Evidence” by Lynn Zimmer and John P Morgan.

These two American scientists wrote the book in 1997 and it tackles many key areas in which the debate about marijuana rages: science, medicine, addiction, gateway to hard drugs, law and punishment, the Dutch experience, impact to the brain, motivation and performance, memory and cognition, psychology and insanity, deviance and crime, sex, pregnancy, the immune system, the lungs, persistence in the body, driving, hospital emergencies and potency and prevention.

In each of these areas, the authors methodically refute the conventional wisdom of the drug’s dangers. They cite the evidence is at worst inconclusive and at best proof that marijuana is mostly harmless.

Their conclusion is marijuana law is the problem not marijuana itself. The fact it puts a large proportion of otherwise law-abiding people outside the law presents overwhelming problems to the judicial systems and to the law itself. They point out that time after time, commissions put in place by unsympathetic governments all recommend the decriminalisation of cannabis.

This includes Nixon’s Shafer commission of 1972, the British Wooten report of 1969, the Canadian La Dam report 1970, the Australian government report 1994 and the Dutch government report 1995. Their view is that the legal controls cause far more social damage than the use of the drug. Governments, fearful of conservative voter backlash, have been slow to respond to these commission results.

It is hard to escape the conclusion prohibition is based on moral not scientific or social grounds. Recent studies (postdating this book) are now suggesting that there is a link between heavy marijuana use and deterioration in mental health – but that evidence needs to be studied closely.

‘Marijuana Myths’ says research results have often been skewed to support political ends. There remains strong and powerful opposition to any kind of decriminalisation dating from the days of Harry Anslinger. Anslinger was the US drugs tsar of the 1930s who made cannabis illegal (and called it by the pejorative Mexican name of 'marihuana' to make it seem unamerican) at the behest of paper manufacturers Du Pont who were worried that the hemp industry might eat into their profits.

Ode for Brisbane Public Transport
Waiting for brains movable and fast.
Triarche immobile in perfidious Albion.
Lost camion in the helmet of happy heads.
Reasonableness and indefatigable apples that peer out once a day.
There’ll always be another you but there may not be another train.
The monarch of self defence, a vast difference from the blue.
Last from the lino through hospital sward
a pennant yawn perspective in the redness of dresses.
Turn handle to open
overpass intercontinental ballistic measles.
Divine electrolysis cuts through bridges.
Sombre muse.
Rhenish wine released by men in orange coats,
barenecked crosswords, the Messiah one across.
Telephone down through the wires and the shadows.
Hills and couriers in the Queen’s Regiment.
Cloudlands disappeared.
Budget street blues in Braunschweig
left by the lemons of East Germany on the other side of common
Bingo hall carousels disastrous in brightness.
Concession tickets available.
Emergency Passenger attraction.
All things turn towards the centre.
Fugue and force.
Cleveland Ohio, buy and bio.
Includes Bus and Rail.
Functions not as an enema but keep away from children.
Clickety-click, clickety-click burgeons and burdens.
Here we are.
Its time to get off.
On the spot.
Fine and later
A curious laminate of pink flesh by the shrine of memories.
Lamplighters beaten by their queen give obeisance in strange bequest.
They spew out of the tunnel, endless clowns in diddy cars.
Redshirts smoking as the greenery is put under lock and key.
A figure eight dancing in the glassy remains of faraway nature.
Cartons and cantons.
Baobab flags flutter quietly in the windless jug of Summer.
Glorybirds feistyfight tremendous terrace cheque boots leading the blindleg.
Purse-pink piglets portly in the rotunda.
The fire is doused.
Tapers hapless inklings of an imperfect past.
Present arms.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Last year. Kyrgyzstan overthrew their soviet style leader Askar Akeyev. He subsequently sought asylum in Russia.

He was supposed to step down after party elections. The elections were, as these things tend to be, rigged. Opposition candidates were disqualified. Nepotism was rife, the parliament was stacked with his family and friends.

The Akeyev clan had been in power since the end of the Soviet era in 1991. Now following in the footsteps of colour-coded people power elsewhere (the Orange revolution in Ukraine and the Rose revolution in Georgia following purple reigns in Prague) the people of Kyrgyzstan were taking to the street wearing pink and yellow armbands heralding a lemon tulip revolution.

I looked in my Times Concise Atlas of the World 1990 and the weariness of the years showed – I could not find the capital city Bishkek in it. My similar vintage dictionary (Collins English c1992 talks about ‘The Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic – an administrative division of south central Soviet Union annexed by Russia in 1864. Capital: Frunze.)

Frunze is not on my map and appears to be where today’s newspaper places Bishkek. Another victim of post-victory renaming syndrome. Just like poor old Sankt Petersburg-Petrograd-Leningrad, it must have a real identity problem.

The current opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakayev was installed as acting president and he won the election in July 2005.

Russia, the local power (and ex-annexer) has given tacit support to the new regime (despite offering asylum to Akeyev).

The Americans with their itchy trigger fingers are keeping an equally close eye. They have brought out the hoary old chest-thumper of Al Queda. “A terrorist organisation with links to Al Queda may be planning may be planning terrorist acts against US interests”. Yawn.

But if they do plan them, then there’ll be plenty of firepower to meet them on homesoil. Both the US and Russia have military bases in Kyrgyzstan.


All hail Turkmenbashi!

That’s Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov when he is at home in Turkmenistan.

The delightful Turkmenbashi's name means ‘leader of the ethnic Turkmen’ an unwieldy label he picked up from the Young Turk himself, Kemal Ataturk the ‘father of the Turks’.

Turkmenbashi, the leader of the state of Turkmenistan, is, to put it mildly, a lunatic.

Among his claims to fame are the renaming of all the months following the fashion of the French Revolution. January is now Turkmenbashi, after himself of course. April is now ‘Mother’ after his own beloved Mama and there are other months called ‘The Flag’ and ‘Independence’.

In 2002 (and its still known as that, he hasn’t yet interfered with year numbering conventions), he decreed that there would be a new system for dividing up the ages of all Turkmen and Turkwomen. He was quoted as saying “our ancestors had a clearer system of the ages of man, childhood lasted to 13, adolescence to 25, youth to 37, maturity to 49, the age of the prophet to 62, the age of inspiration to 73, the white bearded elder to 85, old age to 97 and the age of Oguz Khan (an ancient Turkmen ruler) to 109.

Alas if you happen to live longer than 109, you miss out on a category completely. The great man himself moved into the age of inspiration around the time of the announcement.

Flushed with officially endorsed inspiration, he went on to carry out other sweeping moves. All the libraries outside the capital Ashgabat were closed on the belief that country bumpkins and villagers do not read books.

The rural community also suffered another blow with a threat to remote health services. He asked in Feb 2005 ‘why should we waste good medical specialists on the villages when they should be working in the capital?”

The answer could make the villagers very sick indeed.

Niyazov has been in power since Soviet times, rising through the ranks of the Communist Party.

His cult of personality stretched to the renaming of the Caspian town of Krasnovodsk to Turkmenbashi and there are monuments and photographs of him whereever you look in Turkmenistan.

His central belief is that his country is devoid of a national identity therefore he is generously providing his own to compensate.

L'etat, cest moi!

Eire go bra
Spoon age flames over nacre
Stoned by other nature’s acre
Lourdes to the scene of the crime
Seeking water miracles in time
A blip and its all gone
Even lost what its founded on
Tweaking on the muscle of the ages
Abandoned by busker bouncer pages
Hustling for gold in easy street
Hammer by side, drums at my feet
Hampered by thoughts unseen
Dangling faith fresh kerosene
Mobile out of me it jumps
Blasted seed on ground it thumps
Onan the barbarian at the gates
Fellflung to his fortunate fates
Quietly tortured in grizzly rooms
Photocopied etching of family tombs
Catacomb raiders of the lost arcane
Underbrush the murmurs of growing pain
Electric memories of the queen beholder
Giving you the thermal iceberg shoulder
Soul bandaged beyond repair
Morning bonfires for vanity fair
Along time ahead I see the ghost
Releasing me from acknowledged toast
Hosanna’s barbecue t-bone ashes
unseemly inchoate but ruly clashes
On the tiniest print of the final dots
Biled by rancour and cancerous clots
And after the trifecta is overcomewith
Brightness paints the doubt on thumb width
just phlogiston left to poke in ruins
and the torn ticket of the beaten shoo-ins

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Guevara and Pilger

Woolly Days has just finished reading two books from the Brisbane city library.

They are Ernesto Guevara’s 'Motorcycle Diaries' and John Pilger’s 'New Rulers of the World'.

Guevara’s account is playful with the stirrings of a nascent political conscience bubbling just under the surface.

I saw Walter Salles’ screen treatment last year and he did an admirable job of bringing that life and vitality from the book onto the big screen.

“Che” is the Argentinean word for ‘mate’ – not to be confused with maté, the Argentinean tea. This oft repeated ‘che’ is how other Spanish speaking South Americans picked him out to be from Argentina.

There is an occasional excursion into the political domain especially in Chile. In the 1950s Chile there is the usual Latin American dictatorship struggle which is threatened by many political strands. Allende is not yet a key player but he is mentioned as a Popular Front candidate. That party has the support of the Communist Party but his votes have been reduced due to fractured affiliations within the party.

For the most part however, the Diaries are part travelogue, part homage to mezquito America.

Pilger’s work is far more polemical. In a series of four essays, he takes apart the power structures of the world.

The first essay is about Indonesia’s transfer of power from Sukarno to Suharto and it is presented as a western corporate carve-up. This time of Living Dangerously (1965-66) killed a million Indonesians and entrenched western power. Sukarno had threatened to take a ‘third path’ (neither capitalist nor communist) with his promotion of the Non Aligned Movement. The US couldn’t countenance this and bankrolled his overthrow.

The second essay discusses Iraq. It was written post 9/11 but before the 2003 invasion. It describes how half a million children have been killed by the sanctions imposed (at US/UK instigation) by the UN Security Council in the 1990s. Saddam was an American created tyrant. His Ba’ath party came to power in a coup supported by the CIA and the West bankrolled Iraq during the Iran war. They also hindered rebel attempts to unseat him after the end of the 1991 Gulf War allowing his Republican Guard unfettered access through the recently defeated country to engage the enemy that George Bush senior had so publicly exhorted to rise against Saddam.

The third essay is entitled The Great Game. It takes its title from a quote from the British viceroy of India Lord Curzon in 1898 when Britain was at the height of its imperial powers. Curzon stated that ‘to me, I confess that countries are pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played a great game for the domination of the world’. 100 years later, that Great Game is still in progress. The British are still involved but these days in a supporting role.

Now it is the turn of the Americans to move the pieces across the board. Pilger describes the impact of US cluster bombing in South East Asia and later in Afghanistan. He points out how the US sabotaged the 1954 Geneva conference on the re-unification of Vietnam. After 9/11, Pakistan had negotiated with Mullah Omar of the Taliban (which means ‘the students’ and who were educated in Pakistani military colleges with US money, arms and training) to hand over Osama to them for trial by an international tribunal.

President Musharaf rejected the plan under US pressure as it ‘risked the premature collapse of the international effort’ which was building to attack Afghanistan. September 11 gave the Americans the excuse they needed to change the regime in Afghanistan so that they could lay a gas and oil pipe through the country from the Caspian with the assistance of a 'stable’ government. The last thing they now needed was to have the rug pulled from under their feet by an early capture of Bin Laden.

Four years later the ‘demon’ is still at large. What the US have instead, is direct control over Afghanistan (and now Iraq). They also have military bases in most of the ex-Soviet Asian states which act as ‘guardposts’ over US control of the oil supply in the Persian Gulf. Iran sticks out like a very sore thumb against this American hegemony of the region. Meanwhile the US keeps most of the third world in thrall via the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO. Loans to stimulate economic growth are tied to pro-US policies. Ghana would get aid from Britain for a clean water project but only if they agreed to privatise the water supply. These types of decisions are not widely reported. The compliant media practice ‘censorship by omission’.

The fourth essay takes Pilger home to his native Australia and discusses the Aboriginal issue. As Richard Wall describes it: "Here is clear evidence that the wounds of coercion and conquest are difficult – if not impossible – to heal, and that if they do heal somewhat with the passage of time, they still leave deep scars not only on the psyche but also on the physical lives of victims – even to the extent of drastically shortening those lives today. And they damage the perpetrators and bystanders too. As Pilger points out, in the process of genocide there is always a third party, the bystander, whose passive acquiescence in the conquest and exploitation of a people, and its legacy, at the very least haunts his life and makes resolution painful and difficult."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cant resist your smile

In a third successive unrelated reading, Immanuel Kant scores a mention.

The book is Angus Trumble’s highly diverting ‘A Brief History of the Smile’ (2004) which discusses many intriguing topics around the central question: what is a smile?

For instance, is it a mating call or just a default position and how does it work and what does it mean?

Trumble notes that Kant is depicted as smiling on the frontispiece of his 1796 book ‘A Critique of Judgement’.

Kant is in illustrious company, ‘Smile’ also goes on to discuss such luminaries as Sid Vicious, AC/DC, Aristotle, Boccaccio, Camus, Grover Cleveland, Darwin, Disraeli, Elizabeth I, WC Fields, Tipper Gore, Ulysses Grant, hippies, Thomas Jefferson, da Vinci, Moses, Ozzy Osbourne, Walter Scott, Bon Scott, La Gioconda, Elizabeth Taylor and Margaret Thatcher.

Trumble is a Melburnian and was a curator of European Art at the gallery of South Australia. He joined the brain drain by hightailing it to the US where he is now the curator of Painting & Culture at the Yale Centre for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.

I’m writing for the aged of the ages.
The old that that are not quite dead.
Those who have the wisdom of the pages and the era.
Night recedes from darkness and calibrating kind words
Shut doors, entrailed floors rife with sin
Missed the months of mindless love
Plants succoured by unnatural rain
Whether it becomes me to paint my nails
Or plant them in the hands of the wagon
Redemption from the schooner line
Tinpot predictions at ten past nine
Lord’s witness protection schematic
Kitchen soot and plainflour attic
Bamboo grove peniscillinslim
Hardwork fetish professional crim
Dipped in inarticulate honey
Foolish with someone else’s money
Possession rate is middling poor
But enthusiastic prepared for golden dig
Lumbering like blind venetian moor
Sucking blacklanding loading rig
My destiny is drilled in remnants of cold fatigue
Short icebergs traipse in the green sun
Collapsed moments don’t darken matter
Remind me of a time twenty billion years ago
Before time was brought to bear
Tealeaf condiments of the bushido code
Chessman tanks, freshman ranks
freely fermenting in the motherlode
Cheesecake cutters, mothers dementing
Concrete canyons dipped in union
Capital rattlers soundblasted communion
Carpet sideburns of a tulip lake
Chandeliers kingcrimson delicate fake
In the depth of my eyes I’m delivering feeling
Muddled translation and halflost meaning
Coffeeblast in triptych of reality
Tales of hoffmen feudal fatality
Losing my spiritual flatulence
In a playden of opiate opulence
Carted away on sylvan ambulance
Can’t stand fashion’s smoking ambience
Embers only entrance mirror marvels
Lost brother’s secret parlance of scalpels
Spread muckwise by sunblemished saints
Raked up by the church of the latterday taints
As the grammar queen’s sentence constabulary
Erects speed cameras around your vocabulary
Sockseated in the pantheon of nations
Throned in platform shoes cross stations
Tintinabulating campanologists hammer
While queasy half-fed vergers stammer
Ancient laws and prejudice dominates
Eighty percent approval common denominates
Seatbelt fastened at the tone
May the force be without the security zone
Airmarshalls, sniffer sheriffs and deputy dogs
Gather on magnolia street with raining frogs
Tipper and Tippi, Skipper and Chippy
Seek slender tender skinny dipping sickie
Slick one slide slim
Paratroopers light up in oil
Nigerian fry in puddles of inflammable black
Whitecollars euphemise in upturned sack
Dazzling infomercial death slay per view
Worlds collide on air in mulligatawny stew
Cabinet fates incurred all too soon
Caustic lives shambling to ruin
Thylacine dancers on the soap-o-matic
Ultraviolet mice click on syncopatic
Words on other worlds icecap
Penguin guano farms antarctic licetrap
Listening, glistening for alien wireless
Prisoners cells contort with virus
Magi floating on twenty camels
Packet steamers on canals untrammelled
While death came quickly for Jimi and Janet
Me? I’m slowly sliding off the planet

Friday, February 17, 2006

Kantian Cant

Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781) popped up in two pieces of writing Woolly Days was reading concurrently on the beach at Bribie Island.

One is an internet discourse on the difference between ‘a priori’ and ‘a posteriori’, the other is Stephen Hawkings Brief History of Time.

The two are widely different in scope but both invoke Kant. Immanuel Kant was born in Konigsberg, East Prussia in 1724.

His major emphasis was on discovering the nature and limitations of our learning means. In this he followed the same philosophical line as Locke and Hume.

His key role was to focus on the contribution of the knower to knowledge. As well as ‘Pure Reason’, his other main works were ‘ A Critique of Practical Reason and ‘A Critique of Judgement’.

He died in 1804 and is buried in Konigsberg. His tomb was one of the structures in the town to survive the Russian takeover (what is now Kaliningrad) in 1945.

Near his tomb is the following inscription from Pure Reason:

Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and perseveringly my thinking engages itself with them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.

The heavens and morality are of the essence in Woolly Days' sandy readings.

The Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy discusses the difference between ‘a priori’ and ‘a posteriori’.

In essence knowledge gained a priori is gained independently of experience whereas a posteriori knowledge must be experienced. It goes on to explain the similarities between these distinctions and those that distinguish analysis from synthesis.

Kant originated the distinction in Pure Reason. In it he says a proposition is analytic if the predicate concept is contained within the concept but is synthetic if the predicate ‘amplifies’ or ‘adds to’ the concept.

In Hawkings Brief History (1987) he discusses whether the universe has a beginning in time and this question too is studied in Pure Reason. According to Hawkings, Kant calls the question an ‘antinomy’ (ie a contradiction) of pure reason because he felt there were equally compelling reasons for believing the thesis that the universe had a beginning and also its antithesis that it had always existed.

Both of Kant’s arguments, according to Hawkings, are based on the same underlying assumption that time continues back forever regardless of whether the universe does so. However St Augustine knew this not to be true. “Time was a property of the universe God created and did not exist before the beginning of the universe.”

Pause. Store. Recall.
Let this be my prayer wheel.
How will we find heart peace
Taking solace from powerful gods
Humbled by the scope of universal dilemma
Distracted by its own hungry moments
Unnerved by the sting of consequence
Unhinged by the powderkeg of intention
Unleashing demons into the mix
Multiplying viral forms attacking at random
Be strong but be sure
Ask yourself again
Am I right or just righteous?
Did all your dreams evaporate with the concrete?
Do you prefer the darker road?
Giving vent to your pessimism
Creating new shadowed realities
Dumbed down crushed finalities
Let them go
See them disappear
And watch and listen to the trees in the breeze
Whispering continuously
Proclaiming still life with photosynthesis
The only one we know

Human Rights in Australia

The excellent website run by Human Rights Watch turns the spotlight on Australia and its Temporary Protection Visas for refugees.

The key points of the attack are: temporary status is inappropriate for fully adjusted refugees, there are procedural failings in TPVs and they create a misallocation of resources.

The first point (inappropriateness) is further divided into 3 parts.

They are
a) Australian policy has no international precedent. For instance in the US, temporary protection is an additional status to regular refugee status – not a replacement for it.
b) TPVs should have a finite duration. Without this, it means that despite growing significant ties to Australia during their stay, they may always remain on TPVs.
c) there is no jurisdiction in international law for re-proving refugee claims.

The procedural flaws include:
a) TPVs shift the burden of proof from the state to the migrants themselves. People who have been subject to gross human rights violations never want to return to their native country regardless of how conditions may have changed there in the interim.
b) “The 7 day rule” means that those on TPVs can be banned from ever applying for permanent protection visas.
c) There are limitations on judicial reviews. The misallocation of resources means that every individual claim is judged at least twice.

Refugees know better than any bureaucrat where is truly ‘home’ for them.

Still No #
So this is public property, I no longer own
These words…unless, unless they never leave me
Best lay in doubt and working it out
Find its time and measurements deceive me
People take comfort in truth
Nesting in a willing sanctuary
There was an asylum beside them
A people crushing factory
Laying awake at night afeared
Wondering what happened to Occam’s beard
Nutmeg omelettes at the Grand
Dynamite energy total fire banned
My reaction semi-equal and opposite
Friends and enemas becoming composite
Thus enamoured will defeat with ease
Under shower of cloud-cow faeces
Me I’m just making ends meet

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Britain Takes a Lurch Towards Kafka

After a contentious parliamentary reading and much upper House debate, Britain passed the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2005.

It is a modification of the already strong Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 which itself was knee-jerk policy in the wake of 9/11.

The problem with the new bill is that it crosses the line between the need to protect the public from the threat of terrorism and the need to protect the public from the loss of fundamental human rights.

The new bill superimposes sanctions based on traditional judicial reviews with executive branch orders. These orders can be based on ‘reasonable suspicion’ founded on secret evidence, subject to a limited and delayed judicial review.

There is also the provision of house arrest. This is a gross infringement of liberty of not only the person subject to the order but also anyone who might share the household.

Tony Blair’s government said such draconian actions were necessary as it was unable to prosecute suspects of terrorism because evidence cannot be used in court. Yet the bill has no provisions to loosen judicial procedures, say for example to remove the ban on intercept evidence.

The absence of such procedures in the bill make the government seem like they are trying to circumvent natural justice. The Bill allows for methods such as ‘control orders’ (similar to ASBOs – Anti Social Behavioural Orders). All the government requires is ‘reasonable grounds’ to impose such orders.

This falls far short of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ the standard required of criminal law. There is also the prospect that control orders could be carried out on the basis of secret evidence. Here is Kafka's Trial in action. Potential incarceration and no means of finding out why or for how long.

The control orders may be imposed for 12 months but can be renewed indefinitely. So why then is intercept evidence banned from criminal proceedings? The UK and Ireland are the only countries in the world with total bans on intercept evidence. Why?

It would seem foreign intercepts are admissible as evidence if obtained legally bugged communications and surveillance is also admissible even if unauthorised. The ban is in place due to a concern of disclosure of intelligence sources but a removal of the ban would make prosecution of terrorists suspects easier.

No #
I get the feeling that scripture hasn’t been written yet
Except that its all there, everything we have done to death
By the siren of the Roman candles,
Fires, passion, bedroom scandals
Rueful with our love, so fitfully dispersed
Back was turned on us, the winner gets there first
Glory in the three, babylon be burnoosed
Struck up in the Wests thirty at the sign of the truce
Hatching plans for old targets and new markets
Something big on the quiet, protected encryption
While any white coat can give you the prescription
Wake on the side of the mountain
Everything is in its place of ritual
Defensive fencing in each direction
Substantial fruit in olive complexion
Viral magnets stir in uneven keel
Suspicious in moments and leaving feel
Sepulchre handguns tabernacle ominous
From Ziggy Freud to all things Mormonous
We’re not quite ready to quit the planet
So please Mr Meteor Man don’t blow us away
Before its time to say our silly say
And then, but then, let them gainsay
A gain again against me
As Autumn falls down
And ends up around the head
Of a Winter’s talisman
Which they rip from the code
With pearls and pants round their ankles
Spank me Jennifer, through the goalposts of life
And save me from the some-one industry fishwife
Only fleeting enter the cell and the smell
Of any English speaking woman
Seek alternative in writing and
I see the power in industry but do not trust it
Glib hand of markets live in ideas
that take root in Richard Dawkins' head
spreading e-coli salami on sour bought bread
out of the splendour of what comes next
nervous in motion arrival on text
what I’d asked you to do least
not a question that is foremost established
Make me understand a queer querulous beast
Safari jackal, hysterical hyenas abolished
And dingo was his name
Earnestly important
Death and dying in either culture
So they don’t belong any more
Shut the window, open the trapfloor
Widows of warwounds of words
Collapsed ministers west in the surf
Sell copper, coal mine, accountants turf
After half a minute or a lifetime or so
95 canon Wittgenstein salute to go
Marco Polo has reached his market heaven
I’ve lost my way in hayseed tea Devon
Fillers with bootful mosque moments
Advertising space for a brain in need of work
Or a kind that leaves something in the basket
As he walks away with his balls in his hands
I’ve pumped my life with so much imaginary stuff
I doubt if I could pull the real rabbit from the hat
From the trill of the paranoid camera I keep
The idea imprisoned disappearing with a huge leap year
And an extra day for good luck
I might as well weep for spilled diary products
As I have for my unacted other
The future I did not carve
Plenty times I did not starve
Food none too far away in thought
Fish and chippaper conscience easily bought
Hills of bills dipped in vinegar
Komodo crisis marinated in goat
What is the earth but a collection of peas
Queued in a pod estimating your venal potential
‘your double-you’s ex’ why not..its boring
Rather you than me than stop

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Draco, Solon, Anarchy, Anomie

In the “Da Vinci Code", Greek lawgiver Draco scores a mention in one of Dan Brown’s gibberish codes.

Draco was the first recorded lawgiver of Ancient Athens. His laws handed down in 621BC prescribed harsh punishments including death for the most trivial of crimes. Hence draconian laws and measures.

As the “archon eponymous" or chief magistrate of Athens, Draco had the power to enforce these laws. The years of ancient Greece were named after the archon and the years listed in the rolls as "anarchy" meant there was no archon that year.

In 594BC Solon, the archon of Athens introduced a Bill of Rights for Greek citizens. He repealed most of Draco’s laws and brought in trial by jury, thus saving Greece from "anomie".

Anomie is nowadays interpreted as the absence of any kind of law, principle or order. Initially it was a Greek definition of anyone against the rules or a condition where laws were not applied (eg illegitimacy).

The difference between anomie and anarchy is back at the Greek root of the words – (nomos) – law and (arche) – starting rule, axiom or principle.

Anomie is thus a sense of purposelessness or alienation.

I will be shaken off my family tree
I will send the grand-surgeon’s feat-free fee
On the eighth day I’ll never more raven no more
King of the floor, metal man of Tramore
Ostriched head obstacle, burnt reaching the sun
Wings don’t work so well as sometime ago
Chirruping wigs flamboyantly flavoured
Paid through the nose, tongue gratifyingly savoured
Crime and art that had it down pat
Show me the monet in ten seconds flat
The brandishing swordsman is only for fun
Kids don’t do this here or tell your Mum
Feel free in the shadows
In the labyrinth of my words
Languish in laughable language
Let your luggage be rightly disturbed
My muse is into museums
I’ve never met her wait-and-see-ems
Camelot to Calvary stampede
Wisdom in dully self-reflected glows
Until I seek recourse in quiet madness
And fleeting panics of great sadness
The accumulation of which that ceases to be
Because I’ve been done sawing the family tree

Monday, February 13, 2006

I think Darfur I am

12 of the 15 current members of the UN security council voted last year to refer Darfur crimes to the International Criminal Court.

The US was not one of the dozen. This is due to American ideological aversion to the ICC.

According to US policy, no American is ever going to stand trial for war crimes in The Hague. So they won't support calls for other citizens to be sent there either. Instead they propose an adhoc tribunal to be based in conjunction with the Rwandan genocide trials in Arusha, Tanzania. They claim this would represent African as opposed to European justice.

This is a spurious claim. Most OAU (Organisation of African Unity) countries are totally behind the ICC and in any case the Arusha set-up is struggling to hold the existing Rwandan workload let alone add the Sudanese cases.

The infrastructure is simply not there to support it. America needs to get over its ideological problems and at the very least abstain from the security council vote on the matter so that the ICC can immediately get to work to investigate Janjaweed atrocities.

Holus Bolus
Why can’t a woman ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne?
Where does a bird learn to sing on its own?
Bad cess to you, boy
Plumage unearned, ragtailed bobble-bottomed rammed hard into gaps in entrails
Little by little big smoke
Peacefire, chicken wire, gun for hire, congenital liar
Shangri-la douche bag raises the flag
On a dirty little jungle island
Wispy rivers, cottonmouths with pints of stout
Standing fast in your underwear
Looking for someone to punish me
Kicks back from what went wrong
Nomina patria, Big Dominatrix
Bags of cats in the river
Silt in the delta and the sky’s abloom with Cepheids
Planets a-plenty, stars and cars
The Texan is bandaged up on the road to Damascus
New Jerusalem in England’s green unpleasant land
As I understand the filth within me
I fertilise it and give it a name
Henry the Fourth parts with one
Happy Hal in muftiprince
The Hotspur proxy
Delivering Dad from all evil
Pains with pawns
And a note left in the soil for grasshoppers
Gnomes that will never hurt me
That old schticky stick-and-so
I renege myself from all poorly understood ritual
Monkeys will stop themselves
But know not what they fear
I will land softly on a rock
between the pleasure and the peter principles
God aims high, I’ve found out after I die
The odds are stacked in my flavours
Bookmakers, bribetakers and orgasm fakers
The mind in the trees brought to my knees
A bimbo akimbo in limbo
Laryngitis legs
Spancilled in the grease of a mother’s apron
Largesse in the bush
Love ya, Dubya
Twang upstairs, cash on delivery
Subscribers to the same idea
God bless all who live here
Humidity rising, kamekaze isobars
Hectopascals, camelopards in cami-knickers
White chamois waving not blinking
Straight from the glass
A yardarm of aliens
Roadhouse blues
In a segue from Ivan Ivanich Ivanov
White Russian, unknown soulmate
Best we forget

Blood on the Wattle: Myall Creek 1838

In these revisionist times of Keith Windshuttle and his attempts to whitewash evidence of Aboriginal massacres in the 19th century, it is important books such as Bruce Elder’s “Blood on the Wattle” reach an audience.

He dispassionately looks at many of the key massacres that have characterised Australia since white settlement started in 1788.

Perhaps the single most important event was the massacre at Myall Creek in 1838. The killings of Aboriginals at a property near the Gwydir river at Inverell was different as it was the only one to lead to prosecutions of white people. Some of the attackers made the mistake of boasting about their exploits. A letter describing the events was sent to the police and eventually made its way to Governor Gipps of NSW. He saw this as a chance to re-assert British justice on a lawless frontier. Eleven men were charged with murder. The first trial ended in deadlock with the jury refusing to convict the defendants. In the re-trial, seven of the 11 were sentenced to hang. The white population was outraged.

Aboriginal killings were re-doubled but Myall Creek taught the perpetrators to be more circumspect about it. Many whites took oaths of allegiance which meant that Aboriginals would be killed with impunity up to the 1920s.

Vile Offspring
Nailed to the chains of history
With a footstool and a mushroom cloud bank
Doing the splits, taking the piss from the pot
Nest of ideas and coventry in motion
Know what you need to, or so I’m told
Never dreamed we’d be off the gold standard
Figleaf dangling figurines and disco queens
Elai Sabachthani, Abba be praised
Lifelike, headlong and headstrong
I belong where all is concealed
Behind the truck of hidden knowledge
Arcana boys banned
Roof of all evil, the helpful usurer in all of us
Likened to the stiffened turdbaskets
Fishshark harbour and the collapsed carthage
Seeks punic damages from the citysackers
Raid the treasury with fools gold in them thar halls
By tammany winette holiday pack
50,000 leaflets and treatises dripped in treacle
sweet treaty, molasses by the singular
pluralism and Don the Donkey
spank the monkey, flunkey
say exactly what you meme and if indeed it seems
As if I’m writing trite, complete shite, poetry lite
Milk my man from the cave’s cage
By the maid of a house in New Orleans
Crystal McLean’s pompadour dreams
Lavatory lifemares, pap smears with prayers upstairs
Five for a dozen, incarcerated plovers
Cliff-faced dip-raised tiptabled thumb-thudding tubthumper
Hubris darling, feathered pencilslim garment
Boa narrow, hips wide
Cholosthemy baguettes from pete briquettes and marmosets
Chalk garden lairs and public heirs’ pubic hairs
The right to privacy in divots crawling and calling
Last sessions of private security
Pirate polizei from the politburo
Legs lifelike, slothmerchants of venison
Whalemeat mixed in pellagra pudding
Stark raving luncheon sausage
Wholemeal sighs emerge from nothing
Not something I can compare with apple-a-day magic
When fleugelhorns, creamed corn stillborn covers
Music in the moraine of ideas
Glaciate and alleyrat sewerside down
Pre-placed poisons picked up in damp crowded places
Love in the time of white collar crime
Euthanasia, baby
For a few dolphins more
and pangolins with mandolins
Cretaceous and vivacious
Club-rumbling, clown-curdling
Keepers of the smoky morning
When wings are clipped, headlights dipped, consignments shipped
And doped-up truckies roam the night
Featureless present and rope-a-dope roadpolite
Campdown races at twenty paces
Logic lost, and lithography last
Bringing memories forward with each wave crash
Mulligatawny brotherhood, message brokers
Headrot pokers and a hand of jokers
Decide where to colonise
Right before your very lights
Cats eyes darkwhistled
Permanently disfigured by the roving spar of chance
Cuneiform unicorns, callipers in uniforms
Affix stampede here
Bullrun battleships held together
by paperclips on holiday trips
flummery flimflam family man
jacket tomato in double-vested waste coast
coolers, rollers, coca-colers
one darkness arsenic, one part practical
dream fodder for monetary policy
jacob’s ladder infinitely sadder than jesus
one fat morning along with myself
collecting rhythm message
mild mannered moniker
minor manicure, no panic here
Detroit cars and bars and stripes
Hypes and e-bugging, boxerslugging
Vat-honeyed 50 degree vanilla
Smileys and madnesskings
Sweet georgia brownnose
Confederate flagon, nukes on the roof
Bristling Dixie
Cistern cavern cavity search
Coleoptera Cleopatras sister
Apes asps and gasps,
hatemails from html howls,
Virile passages from princeton charmers prancing karma
Hello says violin vera and cello dolly
Pipe up peace on earth at a price
The value of nothing and the cost of everything
At thruppence a slice
Pennyradical plenipotentiaries in penitentiaries
Phoney dialogue, crash diets for the dead
Zeppelin led and ready
Conflagrating bacon
Grizzly sizzler babysitters under-the-counter reformation
Renaissance hotel with telephone taps and pornographs
Wisden’s bibles, Gideonj’s foibles
Lucky Lapps laugh lapse least
Lotto in Weimar is a winning happiness
Speech difficulty pilfers pilchards
From the salmonella factory
Cannery in a coalmine
Queen cider enriched
Come into my parlour game
Alongcomes a muffett
Prepared to rough it
And shoves the pieces away
Cutting the korda, tabula rasa
Total erasure of the great dismay
And the good-times roles
Dipped in sheep dumplings
Parabola pumpings
Beyond its mathematical reach
Through silo physio sidekick psycho
There’s therapy care for me
Love through the bones and the hottentot homes
We come a-building
Truth decay rot gumption is a common assumption
Risks are party-play, predictable affray
Smalltoy doublekicking dutch tallboy
Intruders in the dustbin
Where archaeologists burrow remaindered items
No longer setting the tone
Backwards, hidebound removed for singing and swinging
Eunuch-spiced paradise in a dribble
Deckchairs swimming in pairs
Idly seen through the crosshairs
Silence act of consent
Pillow talk heaven sent
Served in a battered roast
Stirred and shaken chicory-toast fastened
Olive oily cheese-tongued fricassee of tranquillity
Put on the kettledrum
Find symmetry in the cemetery
Where the dead dodge and wait
Queue up nicely, giving no argument
Run from our rancour, succour
Cowering, showering calendar-empowering
Bowels diseased and chewed up by the sun
Seedchariot on the divine wind
Parlaphonetics. Antenna dissertation
Scuba libre sounds from the radar
Chopped markets of the flathunters and bottlecollectors
Empty-nested memories and househobbies
Dove bandaged and husbanded
Clean a classic from the cistercian clergy
Lazy laity who invent a deity
And pronounce with gaiety
Anti Yosemite Sam, Guardian of the Plan
Semaphore signals in halfblind riddles
Echidna variations, monotone to extreme
Lima beans for you to peruse
Lakes in the grass
“we took your coast” our idle boast
landlocked, handcrafted hankering from the chief
dry your eyes, unsnot your rose
bee-slimy for a day
inveigle in the antique hay
by crikey, its raiki!
Guerilla flotillas cavorting in the canopy
Whistling the Marseillaise on the Canebiere
Kindly conscientious cannibal
Eating the blisters of bungy bunion bajee
Target practice on the masticating mandible
Of John Paul’s jaws, Bingo!
Limited life in the limousine
Flee the scene before you come clean
Insert a mystery belt between war and the king of gods
Herald checks the temperature, tiny with his love
Mother Earth is a smother cert
Holocaust in the trocadero
Ontario in stereo.
Sorry to hurry you.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Volksverhetzung is a peculiarity of German Law where holocaust denial is a criminal offence. This is how Study Crime defines it:
"Though freedom of speech is guaranteed by the fifth article of the German Grundgesetz (Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany), there are some restrictions, eg. personal insults or incitement of the people (German: Volksverhetzung - known as hate speech in other legislatures). Volksverhetzung includes the spreading of neonazist ideas and the use of related symbols like the swastika, except for purposes of art, research or education. The restrictions' aim is to protect the democratic constitution of Germany."

Though I had heard of this law, I didn't know the German name Volksverhetzung. And to be fair to the law the term "Holocaust denial" is not mentioned explicitly in the blurb above.

I had only recently discovered the name in a Wikipedia debate about Berlin. The web page for Berlin in Wikipedia is of satisfactory qualities in several European languages but not, apparently yet, in English.

That might be because in the introduction, we are given the knowledge that a starship and at least two locations were named for the city in Star Trek. Is this statistic now de rigeur for the Great Cities of the World?

But you'd think that one of the ten most important cities of the world wouldn't have failed to meet Wikipedia's quality standards.

So I took a peek at the arguments in the "Berlin:talk page" to find why it has stalled and found some very interesting legal terms being bandied about.

Such as Volksverhetzung, something that Tsja, a Wiki reviewer was threatening another of should they live in Germany because

"This 'Judea declares war on Germany' stuff is nonsense. A local newspaper can not declare a war, and Hitlers anti-semitism was already obvious at the time of the writing."

What local newspaper has declared war? and what on?

It doesn't say, really.

But its hardly a surprise seeing as they can't even agree on whether it is the second biggest city or not. The problem with early 21st century life is that we no longer know where our cities begin and end.

When President Bush (George II) visited the border of North and South Korea, his main point was the night satellite photo of the Koreas. He said that the south was a beacon of light while the North froze in darkness.

While I would not have particularly wanted to live in North Korea, I didn't mind allowing it to be invisible in the dark from space. Thomas Edison's 1870 lightbulb liberated the planet from the dark and the necessary tyranny of the spin of the globe.

The light in the western world is now a patchwork quilt, slowing linking up. True dark does not exist for many who pack these cities.

None of this helps poor Berlin reach Wikipedia required standard. It's still waiting for someone to clean up the mess. Kurfurstendamnation.

Woolly Slush Fund

At last, my life.
The way I want it lived.
With nothing, without nothing.
The less said the better, Buddha-wise.
The noise of silence within its globes and hopes
and twice-trodden tropes tropicana.
These, lest we forgive, are melancholic about three week old ideas.
Fears borrowed from De Beers,
Here’s Lucy, a girl’s best friend.
Let that be a lesion,
fried-fiery fierceness will grrrr at me with a soliloquy and a silly grin.
Forced jolliness and a bell at the back
to greet whatever nonsense emerges,
long-legged and bedwetting.
“I want you” changes all the compasses
denuding them of sense of direction.
East is east but Easter in the west is best.
Shrieking firestones tired out
lasting no longer than the Bill of Wrongs,
prongs and electrically charged highly strung and well hung.
Tall timbre the quality of which is mercy.
Wet December, red hat and dead rats.
Slats and go-crazy groceries with the best of wholesale intentions.
Bent, seriously bent, hazarding dangerous guesses as to what will come next.
This show is gliding in a hung parliament with a landslide majesty
whose inferiority will mask our certainties
and Alaska Be Dampened.
Joseph Conrad nigs the Narcissus and we all look good in the mirror.
Let me emphasise that my go-dolphin is energised and traumatised in ginger.
Marinade is soaking blind golden behind
while a left-leaning government administers tingle bells.
Cigarettes will fall from trees with the birds and the fleas.
Piccadilly circus performers
loose-leaf liquorice let down from faraway traces.
The coroner’s example is tool-downed and dancing,
cleaved and toe-tapping,
they shout it all about through my captive eyes,
guy-ropes and fireflies.
A hissing seductress free-form and freeze-framed
where the emperor’s new chlorine disinfects
plummets skywards to the gravitational force
within itches the spindly thorax.
Let last flings presume gloriously the fetid outcomes of small clean fruit.
Lichen and luscious lychee listen,
packdogs in top-pockets,
Haemoglobins by the dozen,
smile-lifting flyweight mirrorball,
emissary to the emir,
no rime or reasonableness.
Jealous jewellery smart-bombed
candy-cutting smell of the kine.
Crimson criminal in crimplene,
last call for the Searchers,
lips in the levee,
breasts of pigeon with marmoreal eyes
macaques with wings
and curly peasants etched goldleaf in sharp bas-relief
Loose lips sling chips for their supper
Evangelists with brain tumours
Untreatable and rust-scarred
Pixels a pumping
Garden-green sharia crusttrumpets
Seek fatwa from a hang-gliding prince of the realm
The gills of life are prompting exegesis
Naphthalene coffers bringing mercury to the boil
Temperature dissolves into gas
Tripwires, trapdoors and holy floors
Friends of the kalishnikov
Brown-nosed troubadours, lettuce-preying worms
Hiding in parasite horses
Calamities in the shoehorn
Which penguin callgirls mistake for a good time charlie
Geeks bearing griffons
Archaeopteryx now
Some cutter me brothers
A Plantagenet friend once said
“lie down close to the sanddunes”
as he stuffed his merry face
with pretzels and potted cheese
brief dreams and battlescars.
Defenestration once again
Lupine lapis-lazuli lacks only the Leopard King
On average it takes seven amoeba to make resin in heaven
Spying on life minus me.
Deriving with trigonometrical intent
I lie, my clothes face downwards
Limpid signals from my exo-skeleton
My hair muffed up
Tankards raised and clinks in Turkish delight
Ataboy, Kemal
The wrench, the wrench, the king of all burdens
Riptide Flavian sewers with monstrous funnels
Gasp the words in thin breathing riddles
Onomatopoeia for Mum
Dragonfamilies are a grills best frenzy
A rod in the right direction
Lily-livered hosepiped helicopters
Dissolved in Omerta
Haiku hidden in mangrove manga
In summary, a goose of the wilderness
Cut to the chase

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Last Good Buy

Adbusters are a Canadian organisation dedicated to fighting rampant consumerism.

They are fighting a case in the Canadian courts to insist the Canadian TV channels accept their ‘subvertisements’ (also called anti-ads.) The channels are refusing stating that it is against their charters whereas Adbusters are claiming denial of freedom of speech.

Kalle Lasn, the Estonian born head of Adbusters is an original thinker dedicated to culture jamming and overturning the central tenet of consumerism at the heart of materialistic behaviour. He says "Our mental environment is a common-property resource like the air or the water. We need to protect ourselves from unwanted incursions into it, much the same way we lobbied for non-smoking areas ten years ago".

He also says that the automotive industry has been many times worse than Big Tobacco. He sees the strategies that almost brought the tobacco companies to their knees in the 80s and 90s being successfully repeated in the future against the car and oil conglomeration.

I hope he is right but a lot of work will be required to wean people off their love and dependence of motor vehicles. And with China and India gearing up for major development and the Third World generally wanting to own cars and live at the same standard as the First, the problem will get a lot worse before it improves.

smogness echoed ego
crowned in accolade of you
reflection hideously deformed
malnutrition of the body view
border curse in blood abandon
its gates bitter and spiked
torn in harmony dysfunction
its pausal flow disliked
taking handiclapped answers
whispered from the side
onstage parrot ordered
feathered, tarred and tied
gagged but speaking tongues
a ventriloquist bedroom farce
by a clever puppet master
with a gloved hand up your arse

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Gene Wilder

Richard Dawkins is the high priest of traditional Darwinism and he fight the battle well in books such as The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker.

I’ve just finished reading the latter. Typical of Dawkins’ feisty nature, he takes as many swipes at potential allies (such as proponents of ‘punctuated evolution' like Stephen Jay Gould and those of ‘molecular drive’ like Gabriel Dover) as his obvious enemies – the creationists.

He writes with great spirit though with occasional slapdash and condescension. He spins useful metaphors and parables to expand upon difficult points. His fascination with computer imagery (the book was written in 1986) now seems curiously dated as is the puny power of his then computers.

I enjoyed his exposition of bats’ echolocation and how when scientists tried to prove it existed to a conference in 1941, the peer group indignantly panned this proof on the grounds that radar was still a military classified subject and it was offensive to believe that bats could match, let alone pre-date human technological prowess!

road poem
so what wrong with my head
god spare me some cells in a room of my view
don’t make me the hanging judge of a hung Jewry
with only me to see the funeral
time is merely entropy emitted backwards
but I created it from nothing
and working in my rear true mirror
I re-invent the past and relive the blast
and feel the schrapnel of a long exploded supernova
and we all lived happier ever after once before
but when we fast ran out of once before onces
we explained it all with symbols and sunsets
genesis of many colourful beliefs
manifold and simple
but because my casuistic cause
causes over-strict reaction
only takes six days to build the world
but seven is a long time in politics
soulsausage burned by scientist intent
garotted and mashed by knowledgable big bangers
I glean the gold like scraps of goodness in this misery
of ghettoes, slums and shantytowns
black holes on earth
where most of us are sucked in abject wonder
I know why the bus did not stop
I’m fighting the frighteningly real though not mathematical true
go out there and differentiate
burn everything english except its energy
the servants of the servants are demanding their severance price
to lead I must help
and walk among the weeds of uncultivated obeying principle
its a hard road to follow
its easier to do this masqued in cassock, clothed in the faithful,
I will die beaten but with a message beyond the medium
put my shoulders on my back
and as my sins slip off me
and fall three times and die
so that others may have life
in the best and worst of worlds
in this too shitty tale
its the only one I’m in
the problem with you jesus
is that you are a prisoner of my imagination
a life that is every-choice perfect
christ must I accept this?
when I keel over rusted on the outside
while inside insipid, insights off-sight
bloated to mediocre excess
society overripe and turning rotten
so supply this crap compost with an afterlife resurrection
extensions of the law and choices abounding
see demagogue poets refugees from another ring
spell out wisdom and an unsupplied machine code
giving out clues to the human password
among the mixed bag of fanatics and whisky priests
some deranged by their own piety
some enraptured by stark experience
the revolutionary military and the clerics and partially insane
rocking the kaaba in a lullaby down riyadh lane
in the happy chain of a chant, in the paradise of a dance
these bootless mosque moments
are a push from a counter-culture
supplying spiritual aid for Kuwait
like soul stone cold in Newcastle
I dream that my life adventure be over
I sit among the costly cynical wreckage
the price of every thing these days is known
will my life be remembered only for the funeral bill
this shallow callowness, I allow, I cannot swallow
trotters tottering in panic
free-flight pigs look so manic
over the moon in the flying pan
I dream of Roger Bacon in strange circumstance
with a twisted smile on his lips
and a crooked tune which he whistled
to cheddar cowboys in the meadow
‘how now chairman tao”
thought by many teachers to accept
that sharkjaws in the gene pool are
diet dracula for the dyspeptic generation
this advertising pushing pull drags us further
brushed under the carpet in tides between right and wrong
and swept away by the culture of the weather
just another space commodity
polluted by the admans apples
and adam’s atman
a merry jingle, by jingo
faking orgasms while speaking wank
only dream for what is possible
look away while we give you the
“miracle cure of the bedsore of the eyes”
don’t let the imposition of a manmade commandment
stop you from dwelling on this question far too long
do dervishes only dance anticlockwise and
are there mathematical clues to the puzzle of their ecstasy?
through hymn with hymn and in hymn
only power of imagination lies beyond reason
and may defeat it yet
and its quite desperation of deep space monsters
nothing earthly I hope
in my dream I’m slowing faster than light
unmanufactured by science
flowing with the glow
this sea of empty squares
chasing windmills and electric chairs
smacking of the purest heroine
eloping with a sometimes charming mortician
fleeing ahead of the posse of statisticians
thats how you’d do it
so imagine