National Library of New Zealand
Harvested by the National Library of New Zealand on: Aug 31 2005 at 3:06:48 GMT
Search boxes and external links may not function. Having trouble viewing this page? Click here
Close Minimize Help
Wayback Machine

Public Address - Heat (Home)

Made by...

Winner - Best Personal Blog - 2003 Netguide Web Awards

Recent Posts...

PreviousPage 11 of 19Next   Archive

Empty cabinets, dark forces | Nov 27, 2003 11:45

It's interesting to note that Eddie Jones, now a national hero here, seems certain to hold on to his coaching position, in the short-term at least. Over the ditch, John Mitchell's job is up for grabs. But look at the records of the two coaches: one has a hugely favourable win/loss ratio while the other doesn't and one has claimed two key trophies off the other. Eddie isn't on the winning side of either equation.

In fact, Eddie's trophy cabinet is now bare: no Webb Ellis trophy, no Bledisloe and no Tri-nations. Mitchell brought two of those home this year.

Funny ol' world, innit?

Mitchell may have his issues with the media and there are rumours of "dark forces" being at work, but we should maybe remember Clive Woodward got six years to get Dad's Army into shape to win this thing.

Anyway, talking about empty cabinets, I was tripping around the web the other day and, being a bit of an archeology geek (sad, I know), came across this interview with the US officer in charge of investigating the looting of the Baghdad Museum. Colonel Matthew F Bogdanos reports on what's still missing:

"You have the public gallery, with what people call the display quality items. Originally 40 items were taken from there, and we've recovered 11, so there are 29 missing. Turning then to the storage rooms, there were about 3,150 pieces taken from those, and that's almost certainly by random, indiscriminant looters. Of those, we've recovered about 2,700. So there's about 400 of those pieces, excavated pieces, missing from the storage rooms.

"The final group is from the basement. The basement is what we have been calling the inside job. And I will say it forever, like a mantra: it is inconceivable to me that the basement was breached and the items stolen without an intimate insider's knowledge of the museum. From there about 10,000 pieces were taken. We've only recovered 650, approximately. Right now, the total number missing is 10,100, total."

So, it's around 13,000 items looted with 10,000 still missing. In addition a large number of items were smashed. And you know what that means folks! Yes, it's time for more choice cuts from our friends at NZ Pundit! This from Craig Ranapia suggesting just 25 items were missing:

Yes 13,000 is a bit down on the original 170,000 misreported (that was the number of items in the museum in total). But 25? Sorry Craig, 13,000 is the correct figure with most of that, the stuff in the basement, suspected by US investigators as an inside job.

And while John Mitchell may be fighting some dark forces, that's nothing compared with what's going on here. Why did Iraqis wreck their own culture? Well, in the case of the basement they appear to have been paid to do it. Some say it was an inside job planned before the war even started, an inside job done to order, an inside job planned from outside Iraq.

That's why so few of these items have been recovered, why so many have left the country so quickly and are now turning up in places such as the US and Italy.

Who on earth would do that sort of thing? This from the Spectator.

"Stealing a country's physical history, its archaeological remains, has become the world's third biggest organised racket, after drugs and guns.

"There are those who argue that it shouldn't need to be illegal at all. There are those who say, look, the free market should operate here. Why shouldn't a private collector be allowed to buy an antiquity and keep it in his bathroom, maybe next to the bidet, or as a tasteful holder for the Toilet Duck, if he wishes to do so, and if both he and the seller are happy with the price?

"You will not be surprised to hear that many of those who argue this way are American. You may not be surprised, either, that shortly before the invasion of Iraq, and with the spoils of war on their mind, some of these people formed themselves into a lobbying organisation called the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP). This group want a 'relaxation' of Iraq's tight restrictions on the ownership and export of antiquities. They object to what they call Iraq's 'retentionist' policy towards its archaeological treasures. (I love the pejorative use of the word 'retentionist' in this context; 'Goddam sand-niggers want to retain all their history!')"

Yes, what the world really needs is a free market in antiquities.

While some try to deny the museum looting ever happened or to minimise it, or say it was Iraqis trashing their own heritage, the questions of who looted the basement and who was behind them remains wide open.

And this is cold comfort: "The rumour that the US is planning to "liberalise" Iraq's tough laws on the export of antiquities, widely reported in the international press, derived from a meeting in Washington on 24 January between the American Council for Cultural Policy (a privately funded association of collectors and lawyers) and Pentagon and State Department officials.

"The council's treasurer, William Pearlstein, was later quoted in the US magazine Science as describing Iraq's laws as "retentionist", and he wanted to see "some objects certified for export."

"American Council for Cultural Policy president Ashton Hawkins told The Art Newspaper that what Mr Pearlstein had done was to voice his personal opinion after the meeting, and that this, did not represent council policy. He insisted that "there had been no discussion of Iraqi law" at the Washington meeting. "Changes to the present law of 1936 (amended in 1974-75) would in any case be impossible before the establishment of a new democratically elected government.

"Under international law, an occupying power can only alter laws on humanitarian or public order grounds. Nevertheless, the fact that Metropolitan Museum director Mr de Montebello is now suggesting that international museums should participate in new archaeological excavations and receive export licences suggest that Mr Pearlstein's views would enjoy some support."

But that assumes the US will respect the Haig Convention, which it has signed. Unfortunately it is flouting it all over the show, introducing new taxes (and in the process flouting its own founding principal that there should be "no taxation without representation"), privatizing state assets, and trying to lock these changes down before the Iraqi people get a chance to express their democratic wishes.

That's the American way of democracy. It's called crony capitalism.

Sigh.

View Printable Link to this Post Send Feedback to Author

Unquestioning consumer of propaganda watch | Nov 23, 2003 14:41

"I can never understand why journalists are so quick to accept without scepticism the claims of tyrants, dictators and members of so-called 'oppressed' groups but parse minutely and with great mistrust the pronouncements of democratically elected officials."

So said Gordon King over at NZ Pundit after an Israeli missile strike in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza last month. Palestinians claimed the attack on a car caused major civilian casualties, but Israeli officials countered that the attack was made with two Hellfire missiles, which deliver a clinical strike. They even released a low-resolution video purporting to show what happened.

Our indomitable defender of truth, freedom and the right of Israel to do whatever it wants pounced on the original report: "Anyway, the main lesson here in case you didn't already know it is that Reuters is unreliable and functions as a useful idiot for the Palestinian propaganda machine."

Right.

Now, it appears, these "democratically elected officials" (read as "government-appointed defence lackeys") have lied to us.

Unbelievable. Who would have thought it?

It seems only the first missile used was a Hellfire and they're not saying what the second was, but speculation is that it was a Flechette, an American missile that is illegal under international law because it "fires thousands of tiny darts over hundreds of metres, causing horrific injuries."

Ahh, so you didn't really need to be near the car to be injured because the weapon was designed to kill or maim anybody in the general vicinity.

Fair enough, I suppose, in Gordo-Land.

Anyway the rugger has finally ended. I never did commit to either side in the final, despite immense pressure being brought to bear. It was a great game and the poms deserved to win. Not only that, they played an attacking brand of footy that did the finals proud. Most Aussies aren't too upset. Their team played out of their skins over the last two games and very nearly pulled it off against the odds.

For us kiwis there is a silver lining: We have the Bledisloe, we have the tri-nations and the Aussies have… squat! But the poms will be potentially hard to live with. It'll be interesting to see how gracious they can be in victory.

Rock on, kids.

View Printable Link to this Post Send Feedback to Author

The Anzac spirit | Nov 20, 2003 19:49

My refusal to support Orstralia on Saturday is drawing a bit of flack. People I know expect better of me. Not supporting England is just not good enough. You're either with us or you are with the terrorists, sorry, imperialists, they say.

What more can you expect?

I told one, flippantly, by email yesterday "The Anzac spirit is dead, baby!"

I got back this simple but effective message: "You are scum."

I was being flippant. I've had few more moving experiences than my trip to Gallipoli a couple of years ago. But one of the most moving things about that trip was the pom who came on our tour. We travelled round to The Neck, Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair and he finally asked when we were going to this particular beach, the place where his great-grandfather died.

The driver told him he'd have to catch a taxi. Nobody went to those places.

Aussies get very teary-eyed over Anzac. They take their foundation myths seriously over here. And that's fair enoungh.

But I'm not a bad loser, guys, by not supporting Australia. Nowhere in the book of sporting etiquette does it say that if you lose you must support Australia. Go on, give me the page number.

And let's not forget WWII! While Orstralia pulled its troops back to the Pacific to defend the homeland, we Kiwis went to Greece, Crete, Italy and fought in the skies across Europe to defend the motherland. Not a lot of Anzac spirit there, was there? (Actually not a lot of common sense either!)

Correct me if I'm wrong, we simply don't hate the poms as much as the Aussies do. Sure, they play a negative brand of rugger. Sure, they have a tendency to do victory laps even when they lose. Sure they think they're God's gift. Sure they joined the EC and stopped taking our butter…

But really, I don't care who wins on Saturday. I care about it no more or less than I care who wins tonight. For us it's over. I'm taking my ball and going home to mummy.

However, I have realized why we wear black as our national colour: it's so we don't need to get changed to go into mourning. Ha ha! I'm so funny!

I kill myself!

Speaking of WWII and Greece, I picked up a copy of Vinnie O'Sullivan's biography of John Mulgan, Long Journey To the Border, on the way through the airport a couple of weeks back. It's an excellent portrait of a unique individual, with cameos from a bunch of others of equal distinction. As one who grew up at a time when Man Alone was required reading at high school it fills in a bunch of gaps and misconceptions.

Mulgan was one of the most talented people ever to come out of NZ. And yet he was also someone who was totally grounded. He led an extraordinary, and short, life and left behind a unique contribution to our writing, without angsting over the "creation of a New Zealand literature" in the manner of most of his contemporaries. It wasn't that he didn't care about New Zealand, he didn't care about "literature". Literature with an "L" that is.

Also, he spent a lot of time sailing around the Hauraki Gulf before he went to Oxford. I haven't spent a lot of time out there, just a bit, most recently on Tim's little Raven, but I keep thinking about it, coming back to it. Here's a theory, a uniquely Auckland definition of poverty: if you live in Auckland and you can get out on the gulf, you are rich. If you can't you are poor. And it's got nothing to do with money, really.

Anyway, read A Long Journey for a blast of what we were and where we came from and why we are so bloody independent in thought and deed.

View Printable Link to this Post Send Feedback to Author

Wrong place, wrong time | Nov 18, 2003 12:19

Being in Sydney after losing a test to Australia is not a pleasant experience. And it's not like it's any old test. Is it?

I don't mind the ribbing. Straight "We beat you you bastard!" or "Choker!" are fine by me. Fair call. I'd do the same if the result were reversed.

No. It's the sympathetic, consoling ones that hurt the most. Twice now I've had people coming up to say how well the All Blacks played and how the result was a bit "unlucky".

Those are the worst of all.

The Girlie has taken it hard. She dreamed about the game twice in the nights leading up to last weekend. In one of those dreams we won 40-0. During the day, however, she was really worried. So was I. I've always said Aussie were a chance, even when the Australians were writing their own team off.

Despite that I thought we'd pull it off. The form was good and player for player we had to have the edge. And we had Carlos.

I was confident enough to go to a barbecue with a bunch of Aussies on Saturday night. Girlie was less confident, more nervous as the night wore on. Then the game started and the signs of an upset were there early. The Australians were pumped - and they had a plan.

Earlier I'd said I didn't think Eddie Jones was smart enough to spring a major tactical surprise. I was wrong. I'm sorry Eddie. Kudos.

By the end of the game my host was a happy chappy. So was everyone else except me and the Girlie.

"Can we go now, Dad," she whispered.

"Not yet, Girlie. We can't be the first out."

Luckily a group left pretty soon after the game and we made our escape, but not before I received a call on my mobile, from my mate Nige who had been to the game. He was singing:

"Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free…"

I later heard he'd rated it better than sex.

The next day I watched the replay. The result hadn't changed overnight. Each missed opportunity was now a might have been.

What would have happened if…

Now the issue is who to support in the final. I have never supported an Australian side. Ever. I wanted the French to make it, but they blew their chance. For the Girlie it was easier. It may be small recompense, but even before the second semi she was going for the result that would upset the Australians most.

I can't bring myself to do that either.

So it's England v Aussie, and that's a fucking nightmare.

Kosovo v Iraq
Back to reality: The right likes to compare the Kosovo intervention with Iraq to show how inconsistent us liberals are. If you can support one, you should be able to support the other. Right?

Well, Fred Kaplan on Slate gives a nice analysis of the differences in his defence of Wesley Clark's role:

"In fact, the two wars-both their beginnings and their conduct-were extremely dissimilar. True, when Clinton realized Russia and China would veto a resolution calling for intervention, he backed away from the Security Council. However, he did not subsequently piece together a paltry, handpicked caricature of a coalition, as Bush did for the war in Iraq. Instead, he went through another established international organization-NATO.

"From that point on, the aim of the war was not only to beat back Milosevic, but also to hold together the Atlantic Alliance, which was, after all, fighting the first war of its 50-year history. Compromises had to be made in military tactics in order to achieve this political objective-and that, too, was anathema to U.S. officers.

"Air Force Gen. Michael Short, who presented Clark with a plan involving a classically massive set of opening-day airstrikes, was "dismayed," Boyer writes, when Clark didn't approve the plan on the grounds that NATO's member nations would never approve it.

"Boyer, on balance, takes Short's side on this tale. Under Clark's command, Boyer laments, the United States "could only wage war by committee; the process was so unwieldy that it became, to future American Defense officials, an object lesson in how not to fight a war."

"Maybe. But is there much doubt today that Clark was correct in this choice? Does anyone care to argue that intervening in Kosovo was a bad idea, that the Western alliance wasn't (at least for a brief spell) strengthened as a result, or that the war was unsuccessful? Milosevic surrendered, was captured, and is standing trial for war crimes in a court of international law-which is more than can be said of Saddam Hussein. The Serbian defeat was total, unchallenged, and internationally imposed, which may explain why the (truly multinational) postwar peacekeeping forces have suffered minimal casualties in the intervening years."

View Printable Link to this Post Send Feedback to Author

The Girlie thinks I'm gay | Nov 15, 2003 10:28

The Girlie thinks I'm gay.

I was explaining something to her, can't remember what. She'd asked a question and I was explaining to her. I was lying on the couch, as usual, and she was in the chair next to our wrecked coffee table, but more on that later.

The Girlie asks a lot of questions and mostly I can't answer them. While she's doing ancient history and modern history in year 12 and I did them at uni, where I did Greece, she does Egypt and so forth. Our paths never seem to cross.

Anyway she was asking me a question, with her feet up on our totally ruined art deco designer coffee table. I managed to answer one and was making gestures with my hands while explaining the answer to her. She kept looking at my hands and then goes:

"Dad, are you gay?"

"Sorry?"

Laughing, maybe a bit nervously now: "Are you gay?"

Now I'm the sort of person that never gives a straight, if you'll pardon the expression, answer to anything.

"Why do you ask?"

"Well," she pauses. "It's the hands."

"What about the hands?"

"They're a bit girlie."

Now I know, I know, equating girlie with gay is at best a rough guide. The two don't necessarily go together. Or rather girlie guys often are gay but most gays aren't girlie, in my limited experience. If you know what I mean. But hey, she's a teenager and not worldly wise like us. Cut the girl some slack.

I think this might have something to do with the fact I haven't got a girlfriend and haven't had one since she arrived in Aussie. Just a little suspicion of mine.

Anyway, a few days after this shock question, we went out to dinner for her birthday. Seventeen already. Up to her favourite place, Fabulous Fish in Balmain. A nice wee café that serves sweet potato crisps as garnish on whatever type of fish you order. The fish over here are quite different from back home. While you can get Snapper and John Dory and Kingfish, you also have to deal with Barramundi, Flathead, Bream, Leatherjacket and a host of others.

We're walking up to the restaurant and the Girlie goes:

"You should die your hair."

"Why?"

"It's going all gray, Dad."

"Sometimes you have to accept that you're gay," I say. It was a genuine slip of the tongue, alright? Okay maybe her gay question was still on my mind. I corrected myself quickly.

"I mean gray."

"Are you trying to tell me something?"

"No. I'm not. I'm not gay, okay?"

The meal was great and I bought her a copy of "Dude, Where's My Country?" from the bookshop next door just to make sure she doesn't turn out all bitter and twisted. It's funny living with a teenager. In many respects it's like being flatmates. Except I'm the flatmate she doesn't want to be seen in public with.

Personally I love being a solo dad. I love saying I'm a solo dad too. You get all this sympathy. It's wonderful.

Anyway we get home and the Girlie throws her book down on the…

… the coffee table. What's left of it.

I went to New Zealand, you see, a couple of weeks ago. After taking all sorts of precautions to anticipate disasters before I left, on my first night in the phone goes off.

It's the Girlie.

"Dad, you know how there was that light that didn't work in the lounge?"

"Yeeeeeessss?"

"Well, I've had a bit of an accident."

"What have you done?"

"I was changing the bulb and I broke the coffee table."

"What do you mean broke the coffee table. How could you break the coffee table?"

It seemed incomprehensible to me. What could be the connection between the light and the coffee table.

Surely not… No! No!

Surely she couldn't have done that? She didn't stand on it? Not on the plate glass.

"I was standing on it to change the light-bulb and I fell through."

Anyway, the Girlie came through, or rather fell through, unscathed. You might think the table is easily fixed, but this is big thick plate glass cut into curves at the corners and beveled all around. A real designer job from the 70s.

It's going to cost a bomb.

But don't get the impression I'm house-proud or anything. I'm not. Alright. And I dress very badly. And my bedroom's a pig-sty. And I often don't shave, but not in the George Michael, Gotta-Have-Faith-designer-unshaved girlie sort of way. Much more the I-don't-give-a-damn-about-how-I-look, mountain-man approach.

There's nothing metrosexual about this boy. He's a mountain man and he loves mountin' women.

Got it?

And the only reason I hang out on Oxford St is because it's somewhere the Girlie's friends won't see us together.

View Printable Link to this Post Send Feedback to Author

Remembering 9/11 | Nov 09, 2003 18:01

The events of 9/11 are now fading. Steadily, the date is being normalized, slowly becoming just another day.

It was always going to happen.

As I suspected, this year it passed unnoticed, totally without remark as far as I can see. But we should not forget the events that make the ninth of November memorable. We should give them passing recognition at least.

Surely.

The ninth of November was, memorably, the day on which Saddam Hussein declared "holy war" against Iran. The Iran/Iraq conflict, one that some claim is the longest conventional war of the last century, has been little documented or studied and is only now becoming the subject of serious analysis.

Still, no one has been able to accurately pinpoint the toll, but the military and civilian dead number in the hundreds of thousands.

9/11 is also the day, or night, the Nazis launched their campaign against Europe's Jews, a campaign that would account for more than 6 million lives between Kristallnacht 1938 and the eventual Nazi defeat in 1945.

Sophie Yaari was 13 at the time. The Germans came shouting that her, her family and her Jewish neighbours were to be sent to Palestine. Sophie was taken with the others to the local gymnasium where a roll was called. It was all remarkably well organized, she says.

The women and children were sent home, for now, and the men kept. But when Sophie and her family arrived, they weren't allowed in. They were told their house was theirs no more.

Sophie's father was released, temporarily, with the help of Christian friends. The rest of the men were sent to Sachsenhausen or Oranienburg. Sophie and her sister escaped to Holland. Her mother took her to the border but wasn't allowed to cross. She never saw either her mother or her father again.

In 1940 the Germans invaded the Netherlands. Sophie went underground and managed to hide in a series of safe-houses until the end of the war.

Tragedy can't be measured by a body count, of course, but in the context of the Iran/Iraq and the Holocaust the death of 3,000 seems almost insignificant. But for the little fishing village of Santa Cruz del Sur, on the Gulf of Guacanayabo in Cuba, the 9/11 1932 tidal wave that washed away that many is remembered.

It is still Cuba's worst natural disaster.

Europe's Jews were victims on this day more than once. In 624, for instance, the Spanish king Egica accused Jews of helping the Moslems and sentenced them to slavery. On the ninth of November in 1526, the Jews were expelled from Pressburg in Hungary.

It was also the day, in 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant of the union army issued an order forbidding Jews from serving under him in the Civil War.

In 1915 it was the day 272 died aboard the Italian liner Ancona, sunk by German torpedoes. Japan received a triple dose of tragedy on 9/11; in 1973 fire at the Taiyo department store in Kumamoto claimed 101 lives, while in 1963 a train crash accounted for 160 and a mine explosion killed a further 450.

Like any other day, 9/11 was alo a day of joy and triumph. It is day when the human spirit soared, literally. In 1904 the first powered flight of more than five minutes duration was achieved. Women, too, took a big step forward in 1924 when Miriam Ferguson became the first female elected state governor, in liberal Texas.

On this day in 1989 freedom came to East Germany as the Berlin Wall was opened to allow unfettered travel between East and West. Then, in 1976 the UN condemned apartheid in South Africa.

Of course, the ninth of November has had its lighter moments: The Giant Panda was discovered on that day in 1927; and in 1973 former Beatle Ringo Starr released his solo album "Ringo".

In sport big-hearted Evander Holyfield became the second man to win the World Heavyweight Championship three times, memorably out-scrapping Iron Mike Tyson in 11 rounds in 1996. New Zealand were all out for 70 against Pakistan in 1955, however, Richard Hadlee made good with a memorable 9 for 52 against Australia at the Gabba thirty years to the day later.

Tragedy, triumph and trivia: that is 9/11. Don't forget it.

View Printable Link to this Post Send Feedback to Author

 

PreviousPage 11 of 19Next   Archive