Saturday, February 07, 2009

Loathing lingers

It seems time has not softened blogger Jack Robertson’s opinion of former Australian Prime Minister John Winston Howard:

I maintain that John of Winston was and is still a mediocre little c--- and a political impostor and a flag-draped Dirty Button-pushing relentlessly Un-Australian user and abuser and reducer of a multitude of other far better and far more naturally decent Australian men and women across his entire career, most of them on his own side of politics, all of them — all of us — left feeling grubbier, sourer, wearier, smaller, for his but-passing-by. In the selfish service of his personal legacy Prime Minister Howard did deep and lasting damage to this nation’s fundamentals...

Wished I’d said that... But what’s provoked this latest bout of Howard-bashing from Robbo is the prospect of the Great Man’s coming memoirs — for which Robbo has already suggested the following title:

How Much My Shit Didn’t Stink, No, Never Ever Once, Not On One Single Thing, So There!

Robbo anticipates, “It will be the longest and most lucrative Plaintive Letter to the Editor in Australian literary history.”

Wished I’d said that...

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Friday, February 06, 2009

spot of train spotting #2

Having long retired from plying the wilds of suburban Adelaide, Red Hen 402 climbs the Bena Bank — a 1:40 grade, I was assured by a train groupie with whom we were riding.

Below is the roomy interior, a suburban commuter’s dream, waiting to depart from Leongatha station.

After a day well spent plying the wilds of South Gippsland, Rail Motor 55RM (below) arrives at the Korumburra terminus. This vehicle, converted from petrol to diesel in the late 1950s, is indicative of the passenger rolling stock which serviced many country lines in Victoria in days of yore.


Buckling of the rails, below, particularly during the warmer months, occasionally makes for an interesting ride.

all imarges by jarcob  —  click to enlarrge

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Fish Friday

Thursday, February 05, 2009

viable contiguous sovereign independent

The following video aims to illustrate a
significant cause of ‘the troubles’.

view at youtube


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Our newest Dark Knight – the ‘Phantom Expander’

Police in New Zealand’s Gotham City Blenheim are on the lookout for the Phantom Expander:

A local who has labelled himself the ‘The Phantom Expander’ has been roaming the streets filling car exhausts with [builders’] foam which hardens and stops hoons in their tracks.

The editor of the Marlborough Express in the South Island city of Blenheim, Lance Dodd, says the ‘Phantom’ has it in for hoons.

He’s the hero Blenheim deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So they’ll hunt him because he can take it. Because he’s not their hero; he’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Give civil remedies a chance

It’s by now no secret that...

The Israeli defence ministry has concealed information about the extent of illegal settlement-building in the West Bank, a leading newspaper reports.

A classified database of construction compiled by the ministry was leaked to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

It suggests most construction took place without the right permits, and more than 30 settlements were built in part on land owned by Palestinians.

The information was leaked to the Israeli press by the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.

It may be recalled Yesh Din also recently exposed a scandal in which the Israel Defence Forces’ Chief Military Rabbi propagated among IDF personnel “political messages and degrading and belittling messages that border on incitement and racism against the Palestinian people. Other messages can be interpreted as a call to act outside of the confines of international laws of war.”

But to return to the settlements issue,

Yesh Din told the BBC the report showed that the Israeli government ignored its own distinction between settlements considered legal under Israeli law, and illegal outposts built on privately owned land.

The group said it would use the information to help Palestinians sue Israel for damages. [my emphasis]

The latter is a singularly exciting prospect, because it may pave the way to legal/civil remedies for the issue of illegal ‘settlements’, which has long been a cancer in the Middle East ‘peace process’.

If it can be demonstrated that Palestinians may expect remedies through civil means, then it may help curb the resort to armed violence.

We may, therefore, expect that even the most ardent supporters of Israel will get right behind Yesh Din in its efforts to redress the longstanding injustices suffered by Palestinians, in the interests of peace and justice.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Time, place and manner

Following renewed rocket fire into southern Israel by ‘militants’ in the Gaza Strip, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert borrows the rhetoric of former US president George W Bush:

“The response will come at the time, the place and the manner that we choose.”

Time: Any guesses? By the way, Israel goes to the polls on February 10.

Manner: Mr Olmert has already indicated that the manner will be “disproportionate.” Again.

For a contrasting note of sanity, here’s the man who ought to be Prime Minister of Australia, Tim Costello:

When I was last in Jerusalem the group that moved me most deeply and gave me hope that things could one day be different was the Parents Circle Families Forum, which World Vision funds. I met Israeli and Palestinian parents who could not agree on politics or policy but unanimously agreed on one thing: The killing must stop.

They met face to face, abandoning positions where they might hate and seek vengeance, to share the unspeakable pain that bonded them into a most unlikely group. Each had lost children from violence. Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli Defence Forces and Israelis at the hands of Hamas rockets or suicide bombers.

I was in tears listening to parents speak with a moral clarity borne out of intense suffering: The killing of children must stop whatever else.


Chasing the boys of Brazil?

The Catholic Pontiff has, in his infinite and unassailable wisdom, gazed at the present and engaged reverse gear. Showing that he means serious conservative business, Benedict has rehabilitated four "bishops" of the Society of St Pius X, an arch-conservative organisation opposed to any “modernising" of the Church. Consecrated without papal consent by the ultraconservative Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (dead since 1991), Benedict's predecessor, JP II, rightly excommunicated the four.

These people are utterly opposed the reforms of Vatican II which they see as the root of all evil. They claim that the mass should revert to being said in the language of empire past: Latin. Indeed, they refer to the Roman Catholic Church as the "Latin Church" (the “Latins” were a group of tribes about Rome that the Romans subdued in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE). The mass being delivered in the local vernacular apparently renders it – and sacraments as well – void. Perhaps Jesus should have spoken over the last supper in Latin rather than Hebrew or Aramaic. The Bible, too, might have a little problem: it was intially translated into Attic Greek - wrong language, wrong empire.

One of the four, Bishop Richard Williamson, believes that women should not wear shorts nor should they wear trousers (you reading Julia Gillard?). I haven’t bothered to look too far but, I imagine, he would prefer women cover their heads when in a church. Central to his (and the Society’s) strong dissent with the “modern” Catholic Church is the policy of ecumenism. This reaching out to and seeking to find common ground with other faiths – Christian and others – weakens the true faith. Indeed he has described Jews as being “the enemy of Christ”.

This is a fellow that Benedict sees the need to rehabilitate.

“Bishop” Williams holds other views as well. Among those is the fact that, at most, only some 300,000 Jews died in camps during WWII . He claims there were no gas chambers and that Jews are the enemy of Christ. He also states, in a TV interview, that – in summary – the historical evidence "is hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed." Now, one needs to know that this argument is semantically based: six million were not gassed. No evidence supports this claim – deliberately that is; perhaps accidentally?

And so Benedict, an arch-conservative, rehabilitates this fellow.
Just what message does the Pope think he is sending with this rehabilitation? The Vatican has, in essence, sidestepped the Jewish revulsion at Williamson’s welcome home. People can, apparently, make their own minds on the “bishop’s” views:

Reverend Federico Lombardi (Vatican spokesman), said Bishop Richard Williamson's views had no impact on the decision to lift the excommunication decree. The pope's decision by no means implies "sharing (Williamson's) ideas or his comments, which will be judged on their own".

No, of course not - even though Lombardi added that the "bishop's" views were "absolutely indefensible". Not so indefensible so as to render its proclaimer unwelcome to a Church in fast retreat from the modern world. The mealy-mouthed rationale is that holocaust denial is not heresey and so irrelevant. Perhaps Joseph might consider appointing David Irving official Vatican historian?

This fellow Joseph Ratzinger feels the need to have back in the fold?
And so the Catholic Church, under the guidance of Joseph Ratzinger, retires towards the present in full reverse gear. You can visit “bishop” Williamson’s blog here. His views on the so called Holocaust are on Youtube.
He writes from Argentina – naturally.

Noisy neighbours — revisited

click to enlarge  —  screencap by jarcob

It’s suddenly occurred to me why an image in a previous post (here updated) resonated so strongly in my mind. Perhaps has something to do with the image above from a fave movie, the 1997 screen adaptation of Carl Sagan’s novel Contact. Compare above with...

click to enlarge  —  imarge by jarcob

A Bass Strait oil rig anchored off the holiday town of Cowes, Phillip Island, for maintenance works.

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