Friday, February 26, 2010

Vintage Book Friday

The Wonders of Life on Earth
By the Editors of LIFE and Lincoln Barnett
Special Edition for Young Readers
Text Especially Adapted by Sarel Eimerl from the Original Version
(Life Books / Southern Cross International, Sydney, 1965)

I received this book as a Christmas present when I was 10 or 11. This was a superb gift for a child of around that age. Aside from the engagingly written text, the book is lavishly illustrated with photographs and other artwork. The proverbial treasury!

As it turned out I lost the book sometime in the years I was growing up, but back in January this year whilst holidaying around the Gippsland Lakes, I happened upon a reasonably well-preserved copy in an opp-shop at Lakes Entrance. The hard cover is a bit dog-eared and worn in places, but the pages inside are by and large in excellent condition. Naturally I snapped it up immediately.

I want to restore the cover to make it somewhat more robust so I can give the book to my great-nephew when he’s a bit older. Before that, however, I should probably review the text to ensure there are no glaring anachronisms in the science that may have been superceded since the 1960s.

The three-page fold-out, below, depicts Fernandina Island (referred to in the book by its former English name, Narborough Island) of the Galapagos group, overshadowed by La Cumbre volcano, perhaps much as Charles Darwin might have seen it in 1835 (had he actually visited that particular island, which to my knowledge he hadn’t).

Next, a two-page spread detailing various denizens of the Amazon rainforest.

There’s some enchanting detail in the broader panorama, such as the little howler monkey tugging the tail of a coati-mundi (who seems to be saying, “Hello, breakfast!”).

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

These people are insane

Israeli prime minister and apologist for political terror, Binyamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu, has been at it again, recently authorising the assassination of an enemy operative on foreign territory, this time in Dubai.

Undoubtedly Bibi was inspired by his earlier ‘success’ in the attempted assassination of a Hamas king-pin in the Jordanian capital in 1997.

Bibi’s ‘success’ in this latest foreign murder-and-mayhem escapade includes having placed in danger a number of innocent foreign nationals whose identities were stolen by his Mossad assassination team.

Meanwhile Jewish settlers on the West Bank, who enjoy Bibi’s nod-and-wink support in flagrant violation of international law, have attacked their own Israeli Defence Forces when they “mistook a military exercise for an attempt to evict them.”

It really is long past time the entire region was placed under international administration.


Sadness avoided

Former chief UN weapons inpector Hans Blix, interviewed recently on ABC TV, stressed that the US, with Britain and other poodle nations, would not have gone to war in Iraq in 2003 if they’d only listened to him.

Now we were also able to show them in January 2003 that there were errors in the intelligence... And in no case did we find any weapons of mass destruction... What we were able to do in that period however was to spell doubts about the evidence that the UK and the US had presented.

Yep, can’t really fault that analysis. Which leaves us with the poser: Why, after all, did the US and UK then go to war anyway?

Blix offers the following:

It was too late in the day I think for them to move off the military train. They had 250,000 men or more sitting in the desert and it would have been demoralising if nothing happened.

So, on Blix’s analysis, if the war hadn’t gone ahead, a whole bunch of (unspecified) people would have been terribly sad.

How brilliant that Blix should arrive at this conclusion, disdaining the overly simplistic explanation of US/UK overarching strategic geopolitical and mercantile objectives... for which they had long determined to go to war... and naturally cooked the intelligence in the first place...


The magic of ‘Time-Server’ Alex

Back in July 2008 when he took on the role of UN envoy in Cyprus, former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer seemed to be setting himself up for failure:

“It’s not going to be a cakewalk. These things are always untidy. It’s never easy to do.”

Still, Alex seemed willing enough to have a go:

“We ended the civil war in Bougainville. We played our part in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why not try to fix up Cyprus as well?”

Well bully for Alex, why not indeed!!

Sadly, some parties in the Cyprus dispute have lately criticised Alex as being hopelessly ‘biased’.

“We have a problem and it’s called Downer,” said Rikos Erotokritou, vice-president of Cyprus’ small but hardline European Party. “It is our belief that he should step down.”

And what’s more...

‘‘It is incredible that he still hasn’t set up permanent residence in Cyprus. How can the negotiations be fruitful if he is here for a few days and then flies off?”

For which Alex has a compelling excuse:

“I was employed on a part-time basis and I’m not paid full-time.”

Fair enough... but whatever happened to our Can-Do-Alex, the man Janet Albrechtsen described as the ‘Warrior Statesman’?

Then again, perhaps the Cypriots will have only themselves to blame if they don’t seize the opportunity presented by the part-time Warrior Statesman.

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