Thursday, November 11, 2010

George W Bush leg-pull still a work in progress

An editorial today in The Australian opines that the “legacy” of George W. Bush’s presidency is “still a work in progress.”

That’s right on the money, if by that expression the Oz means that it will require a herculean effort to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

The Oz kicks off with the weasely admission that Bush “will never be top of any of the lists of best presidents Americans enjoy analysing.” The same was undoubtedly said of Richard M. Nixon, whose interment was respectfully attended by three former or current presidents. Such was the rehabilitation of a man whose criminal conduct brought the very presidency into disrepute, while his country teetered on a constitutional precipice.

According to the Oz, Dubya’s enduring achievements – aside from that Americans will “enjoy analysing” his presidency in only a very qualified sense – are to “have kept his country safe and created a new Muslim democracy.”

If the absence of any successful terrorist attacks on US soil since September 2001 is anything to speak of, then it is that Dubya’s presidency was not a failure of such epic proportions as generally thought.

“A new Muslim democracy”? Time will tell on that one. Prior to the ascendancy of Saddam, the Iraqis had a functioning secular democracy, but somehow managed to blow it. And the strongman Saddam was appeased and supported obscenely by successive US administrations including up to the period after his infamous Al Anfal campaign against the Kurds. But never mind, the bloodbath of the last seven years has put it all to rights.

What is missing, however, from much of the late apologia for Dubya, including the Oz’s little effort here, is any mention of the ‘Af’ word.

Alright, I’ll say it: Afghanistan.

The Dubya Administration’s dereliction of its ‘mission’ in Afghanistan – in order to pursue its Misadventure in Mesopotamia, which even the Oz piece admits was “badly blundered” – was a mistake for which ‘we’ will be paying in blood and angst for the next decade or possibly beyond.

Disgustingly, Dubya has been hitting the chat show circuit expressing his “disgust” over the conduct of some of the troops he sent to do his bidding at Baghdad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

Does the moron not remember that, by the time he and Cheney had finished dog-whistling up and down their country for the dogs of war, around 65 per cent of the US population believed Saddam’s Iraq to be responsible for the September 11 attacks?

It was, for Dubya, a cultivated and convenient misapprehension that undoubtedly was mirrored in the hapless service personnel he sent, thus making the Abu Ghraib abuses virtually inevitable.

Still and all, I will confidently predict that Dubya’s interment will be respectfully attended by at least three former or current US presidents.

If by then my mushy-grey succumbs to the scourge of dementia, I’ll at least have the consolation of not having the presence of mind to register such a grotesque spectacle.

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emulate this

Pictured above is the Tandy TRS-80 Model I, unleashed on the world in 1977 as one of the first mass-produced desktop microcomputers available to consumers. Unusually for its time it sported a full QWERTY keyboard.

These devices were a lot of fun at the time, and with some work and some highly-priced peripherals it was even possible to get some genuinely useful functionality – yes, even something approaching the modern concept of productivity – out of them. Users could either program the machine themselves in its native floating point BASIC programming language, or shell out a bit more dough for commercially available software to run the thing.

Naturally these machines are no longer available on the market, unless you can find a working relic on eBay or somewhere. So, users of modern-day 21st Century machines are unlikely to ever experience the thrills-and-spills of operating what was a cutting-edge product of its day. (Of course, if it’s thrills-and-spills you want, then there’s still Microsoft Windows.)

And yet, there is a reasonably low-cost and convenient way to experience the awesome technology of yore. The answer is to run a TRS-80 emulator.

Yes, it may seem outrageously implausible that you could emulate a

  • Zilog Z80-based, 8-bit, 1.77 Megahertz, 16 Kilobyte RAM, cassett-tape-storage  machine

on your

  • Intel Quad Core, 64-bit, 3.2 Gigahertz, 8 Gigabyte RAM, multivarious storage, state-of-the-21st-Century PC

But through the magic of modern software technology anything is possible, requiring only the will to realise it.

If you have a hankering for the archaic and too much time on your hands, you might start here...

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Point missed

One of the best moments in the ambitious-but-patchy Charles Darwin biopic Creation:

Charles Darwin:I have been writing a book.
Doctor Gully:Madness! There are far too many of those already!

If he’d only known the content of the book Charles had been writing, Doctor Gully’s response would likely have been more along the lines of... “May God have mercy on your immortal soul, sinner!

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Rupert and the denegation of class warfare

An editorial in The Australian last week panned the ABC’s “highly subjective documentary” broadcast the night before, I Spry, which attempted to document the career of ASIO boss, Colonel Charles Spry.

Counterpointing that was a piece in The Age next day that dealt with the 1928 war on Melbourne’s docks, in which police violence against unionists at the behest of captains of industry was allegedly improperly investigated and subject of a “whitewash”.

The Australian, needless to say, fails to recognise certain other “realities of the Cold War,” such as the open warfare practised by the State, in lockstep with powerful commercial interests, against working people.

Such open sores on the body politic perhaps inevitably further radicalised a significant segment of organised working people, arguably driving them headlong into the arms of the so-called “communist conspiracy”. It couldn’t really be helped because the ruling establishment couldn’t bloody help themselves.

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