Mar 28, 2006
Staying calm on the roads of Saigon is the path to enlightenment, my children. It’s a maze of motorbikes. It’s hot, dirty and dangerous. However, going slightly slower than 'The Bluebird' seems to help cut out the most stressful situations. Here are the top most annoying traffic situations:
1) The Bus Sandwich
You can guess.
2) The Air Horn Heart Attack
Your half way home and you think you’ve finally managed to find your inner calm, gliding to a brief halt at a red light, a smile even begins to spread across your face as you begin daydreaming about your dinner. Not for long – behind you the driver of a 10 ten juggernaut gives you an aneurism with his piston powered claxon that uses 5 liters of petrol and cracks the chassis of your Honda. You flinch uncontrollably but eventually recover, about the same time, he gives you another blast.
3) The 10mph Daydream
Even cruising at a regular speed can still give your brakes the occasional bruising as you are forced to scream to a halt behind slow moving traffic: grandma. She is transporting 15 kilograms of spring onions on her modified lawnmower, top speed about 8.5 kph. Her proud demeanor and stubborn posture don’t do your already impatient temper any good. You circle around the back wheel like an irate F1 driver caught behind a back marker, and at the first opportunity, speed past.
4) The Unexpected Bicycle Wobble
Anyone who rides a bicycle here can at least take comfort in the fact that they could easily move onto a career in the circus, such is the art of riding one locally produced. Of course they are more difficult to maneuver with 5 high school girls on them, and the ‘unexpected wobble’ can strike at any time. Simply a brief loss of control where the elbows buckle and the bike lurches wildly to the left/right and dangerously close to being flattened by your motorbike.
5) The Red Light Lottery
Red, Green, who cares!!
6) The Workmans Lance (see Comedy Cargos Usually for Building Sites and also Jousting)
7) The Vanishing Act (usually achieved best in huge clouds of black smoke).
8) Impossible Left Turn
Rocket Science tis' not. When I need to turn left I generally stick to the left side of the road, and similarly hog the right kerb at right turns. Others don't agree. Red turns to green but your progress is soon halted by a few motorists, determined to make their lives difficult by performing the impossible turn. The indicator is blinking, but there's nobody home. Slowly inching forward at a 20 degree angle across the path of oncoming motorbikes, taxis, buses and cyclists - if only one of those 'caught on camera' shows back home could get hold of this footage! People would be falling out of their armchairs and choking on their steaks! I should add a disclamer here - we've all got caught in this situation, it is unavoidable sometimes. Other times however, you just have to puff up your chest self righteously and mutter 'honestly'.
Thats all, until I drive home today, become enraged (breath) and remember another 15.
Mar 9, 2006
You've got to love a good insult.
" I wasn't born yesterday Blackadder "
" More's the pity, we could have started your personality from scratch "
Simon Cowell came out with a gem the other day.....telling one of the 'auditioners', "You look like the incredible hulk's wife". Ouch
Mar 8, 2006
'Those who are seriously interested in understanding the world will adopt the same standards whether they are evaluating their own political and intellectual elites or those of official enemies. One might fairly ask how much would survive this elementary exercise of rationality and honesty.'
On East Timor :
'On Septmeber 8th, the Clinton administration reacted by reiterating its position that East Timor is "the resposnsibility of the Government of Indonesia, and we don't want to take that responsibility away from them." A few days later, under strong international and domestic pressure, Clinton reversed the 25-year policy of support for Indonesia's crimes in East Timor, and informed the Indonesian military that Washington would no longer directly support their crimes. They immediatly withdrew from the territory, allowing an Australian-led UN peacekeeping force to enter unopposed.
The lesson was crystal clear: as a handful of activists and critics had been saying for almost twenty-five years, there had never been any need for threats or forceful measures. It would have sufficed to withdraw from participation for some of the worst crimes of the late twentieth century to have come to a halt.'
In the case of Turkey, "conscience-shocking situations" went virtually unheeded in the United States until the moment in early 2003 when the Turkish government defied Washington's demands and followed the wishes of 95 percent of its population by refusing to allow an attack on Iraq from it's borders. At that point, one began to read about "Turkey's ghastly record of torturing, killing, and 'disappearing' Turkish Kurds and destroying more than 3000 of their villages," with citations from human rights organizations reiterating what they had reported in far more detail years before while the crimes were in progress, thanks to U.S aid, and could easily have been stopped. To this day, the decisive U.S role remains under wraps'
We understand the truism very well when considering the actions of official enemies but find it hard to apply ourselves. There are many illustrations, including recent US military exercises. Aid agencies, scholars, and others who properly warned of the risks in Afghanistan and Iraq were ridiculed when the worst, fortunatly, did not come to pass. At the same level of moral imbecility, one would rush into the streets every October to sing praises to the Kremlin, while ridiculing those who warned of the dangers of placing missiles in Cuba and persist in condemning the criminal lunacy of the act'
'The intelligence assessment eliminated a danger that had been identified by the Mexican ambassador in 1961, when he rejected JFK's attempt to organize collective action against Cuba on the grounds that "if we publicly declare that Cuba is a threat to our security, forty million Mexicans will die laughing." '
'The simple fact is that Castro represents a successful defiance of the US, a negation of our whole hemisphere policy of almost a century and a half......to put it simply, Thomas Paterson writes, "Cuba as a symbol and reality, challenged US hegemony in Latin America'
This is called 'successful defiance' by Chomsky - a successful 'escape' from the US and its system.
Successful defiance has regularly been overcome by one or another form of violence without any risk to the perpetrators. One strategy from the early 1960's was the installation of neo-Nazi National Security States, which had as their goal "to destroy permanently a percieved threat to the exisiting structure of socioeconomic privilege by eliminating the political participation of the numerical majority", that is, the "popular classes". The move set off a plague of repression and terror throughout the continent, reaching Central America during the Reganite phase of the current political leadership. The plauge began with a military coup in Brazil set in motion before Kennedy's assassination and carried out shortly after. Washington cooperated with the military forces that overthrew parlimentry democracy in recognition of their "basically democratic and pro - United States orientation," Kennedy's ambassador Lincoln Gordon explained. While the torturers and assassins were carrying out their work, Gordon hailed "the most decisive victory for freedom in the mid-twentieth century." The "democratic rebellion," Gordon cabled Washington, would help in "restraining left wing excesses" of the former moderate populist elected government, and the "democratic forces" now in charge should "create a greatly improved climate for private investment."
Gordon's view was endorsed by other leading figures of the Kennedy-Johnson administrations, though by the 1980's, as in Chile at the same time, the Brazilian generals were happy to transfer the wreckage to civilian hands. Despite the enourmous advantages of the "colossus of the South," the generals had left Brazil in "the same catagory as the less developed African or Asian countries when it came to social welfare indices" (malnutrition, infant mortality,etc.), with conditions of inequality and suffering rarely matched elsewhere, but a grand success for foriegn investors and domestic privilege.
This is all taken from the book 'Hegemony or Survival, America's Quest for Global Dominance' by Noam Chomsky.
Mar 3, 2006
All I want to do is live by the sea'
It's from an Oasis song called 'It's good to be free'. Not too profound, but I like it.
'Strange times are these when old and young are taught falsehoods in school, and those who dare tell the truth are once called a lunatic and a fool' - Written by Plato in 400 B.C!
A similar sentiment expressed by the man himself :
'Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it's from Neptune.' - Noam Chomsky.
An obscure band I love called Carcass surprised me with their lyrics, and I love the words to the song 'Generation Hexed' (as well as it being an awesome song). Here they are:
A whole generation of pathetic lost souls
With no meaning no depth
They're already dead, before it gets old
No individuality, uniformed
Blanket identity, from the day that they're born
Another generation to mourn
What choice for a new generation?
Another generation under sedation
Flocking like sheep
The instinctual herd, as fashion dictates
Commonly reduced, resigned to their fate
Like the one which precedes
A bleak existence, to be spent on it's knees
The pattern it seeds
What choice for a new generation?
Another generation under sedation
Just another useless generation..
Another wasted generation is sold
With no meaning, no depth
They're there to be bled
Never breaking the mould
No individuality, misinformed
Blinkered non-entity, on it's knees born
Another generation to scorn
What choice for a new generation?
Just another generation under sedation
Ha, self oppressed
Just another generation hexed