The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld – Recent works by the secretary of defense. – A fabulous collection taken straight from the DOD website

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On the Slate website Hart Seely has collected some of the truly classic poems of our time – they are taken from briefings listed on the Dept of Defense website.

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

Glass Box
You know, it’s the old glass box at the—
At the gas station,
Where you’re using those little things
Trying to pick up the prize,
And you can’t find it.
It’s—

And it’s all these arms are going down in there,
And so you keep dropping it
And picking it up again and moving it,
But—

Some of you are probably too young to remember those—
Those glass boxes,
But—

But they used to have them
At all the gas stations
When I was a kid.

—Dec. 6, 2001, Department of Defense news briefing

A Confession
Once in a while,
I’m standing here, doing something.
And I think,
“What in the world am I doing here?”
It’s a big surprise.

—May 16, 2001, interview with the New York Times

Happenings
You’re going to be told lots of things.
You get told things every day that don’t happen.

It doesn’t seem to bother people, they don’t—
It’s printed in the press.
The world thinks all these things happen.
They never happened.

Everyone’s so eager to get the story
Before in fact the story’s there
That the world is constantly being fed
Things that haven’t happened.

All I can tell you is,
It hasn’t happened.
It’s going to happen.

—Feb. 28, 2003, Department of Defense briefing

The Digital Revolution
Oh my goodness gracious,
What you can buy off the Internet
In terms of overhead photography!

A trained ape can know an awful lot
Of what is going on in this world,
Just by punching on his mouse
For a relatively modest cost!

—June 9, 2001, following European trip

The Situation
Things will not be necessarily continuous.
The fact that they are something other than perfectly continuous
Ought not to be characterized as a pause.
There will be some things that people will see.
There will be some things that people won’t see.
And life goes on.

—Oct. 12, 2001, Department of Defense news briefing

Clarity
I think what you’ll find,
I think what you’ll find is,
Whatever it is we do substantively,
There will be near-perfect clarity
As to what it is.

And it will be known,
And it will be known to the Congress,
And it will be known to you,
Probably before we decide it,
But it will be known.

—Feb. 28, 2003, Department of Defense briefing
Source: http://slate.msn.com/id/2081042/

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Palestinian question – an interesting insight

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Just recently came across an old transcript of an interview with Martin van Creveld (one of my favourite military writers – he wrote good books on command in war and technology of war). He gives a really interesting perspective on the problems Israel is having in Gaza, strangely enough things have not improved any since this 2002 interview.

Foreign Correspondent – 20/03/2002: Interview with Martin van Creveld:
Reporter: Jennifer Byrne
“Professor Martin van Creveld, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s most prominent military historian. In this interview with Jennifer Byrne he claims that despite the recent increase in Israel’s military operations, the huge Israeli defence forces will inevitably lose to the Palestinians.

Transcript
Byrne: Thanks for joining us tonight on Foreign Correspondent. How has it come to this, Martin… how is it that the mighty Israeli army – one of the world’s most powerful – with its helicopter gunships, with its tanks, with it’s missiles, can be losing to this relatively small, relatively under-armed if fanatical group of Palestinians?

Van Creveld: The same thing has happened to the Israeli army as happened to all the rest that have tried over the last sixty years. Basically it’s always a question of the relationship of forces. If you are strong, and you are fighting the weak for any period of time, you are going to become weak yourself. If you behave like a coward then you are going to become cowardly – it’s only a question of time. The same happened to the British when they were here… the same happened to the French in Algeria… the same happened to the Americans in Vietnam… the same happened to the Soviets in Afghanistan… the same happened to so many people that I can’t even count them.”

Then a little later he makes this point:

“Van Creveld: No. There is one thing that can be done – and that is to put and end to the situation whereby we are the strong fighting the weak, because that is the most stupid situation in which anybody can be.

Byrne: And how do you do that?

Van Creveld: Exactly. How do you do that. You do that by A, waiting for a suitable opportunity… B, doing whatever it takes to restore the balance of power between us and the Palestinians… C, removing 90% of the causes of the conflict, by pulling out… and D, building a wall between us and the other side, so tall that even the birds cannot fly over it…. so as to avoid any kind of friction for a long long time in the future. ”

Maybe it is time they tried a wall? It worked for Berlin for quite a while.

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International Aid = False Hope for Africa?

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Another interesting snippet re international aid and Africa:

Tech Central Station – False Hope
“Thus, the international aid system has essentially served to reward policies that slow down development, whatever the initial intentions of its advocates. Under such circumstances, the implementation of the rule of law in Africa, necessary to wealth production, has been postponed indefinitely. Aid actually received by the poor is a very small compensation. If the cancelation of debt — which they could have paid off thanks to taxation — gives them a bit of breathing space, it won’t be through increasing subsidies to their governments that their living conditions will be improved.
Xavier Mera is associate researcher at the Molinari Economic Institute.”

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Interview: For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!

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“The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. The avid proponent of globalization spoke with SPIEGEL about the disastrous effects of Western development policy in Africa, corrupt rulers, and the tendency to overstate the AIDS problem.”
Source: SPIEGEL Interview with African Economics Expert: News: July 4, 2005

This interview in the German magazine Der Spiegel Kenyan economist James Shikwati explains clearly why continued monetary aid to Africa is not the answer. He also demonstrates the differences between Germany after World War 2 (and the success of the Marshall Plan) and Africa today.

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LIVE 8 – Why bother?

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On the Live 8 website it states that:

“Every single day, 30,000 children die, needlessly, of extreme poverty. On July 6th, we finally have the opportunity to stop that shameful statistic. 8 world leaders, gathered in Scotland for the G8 summit, will be presented with a workable plan to double aid, drop the debt and make the trade laws fair. If these 8 men agree, then we will become the generation that made poverty history. But they’ll only do it if enough people tell them to. That’s why we’re staging LIVE 8. 10 concerts, 100 artists, a million spectators, 2 billion viewers, and 1 message… To get those 8 men, in that 1 room, to stop 30,000 children dying every single day of extreme poverty. We don’t want your money – we want you!”
Source:LIVE 8 – The Long Walk to Justice

What I want to know is how much more aid are we going to pour into Africa to support corrupt regimes? How much more aid are we going to allow to be diverted from the intended recipients? How long are we going to stand by and watch injustice upon injustice heaped upon the proponents of democracy in Africa?

Some more self indulgent & rich rock stars have made themselves feel better – so what!

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Hidden Socialism

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Someone suggested to me the other day that I ought to join th eAustralian Labor Party. I replied that I was unable to commit to a party that upheld socialism as one of its core values.

It made me recall a quote from Winston Churchill on socialism:

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel or envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

Many people in Australia seem to have forgotten that the Australian Labor Party has a socialist agenda at its core!

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Article: Educator claims critical thought stifled in our schools

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The World Today – Educator claims critical thought stifled in our schools: ABC Radio, The World Today, Wed, 9-Feb-2005, Reporter: David Mark

In the Spring edition of The Journal of the Australian Association for the Teaching of English Associate Professor Wayne Sawyer, from the University of Western Sydney, asked whether English teachers were encouraging critical thought in their students . He argued that the 2004 Federal Election result demonstrates that the Australian public, including former students, may not be critically analysing the language used by the Federal Government – since, he implies, they voted for the wrong people!

Sawyer is part of the encroachment of cultural studies into the English classroom. Anyone who has looked into cultural studies knows that it is driven by a particular political and social agenda – check out this website for an insight (more posts to come on this as it is annoying me at the moment.) It is clear that Prof. Sawyer is seeking to have teachers drive a certain political agenda in the classroom, especially when the Australia public’s vote in a general election does not go his way. Maybe the students were capable of critical thought and realised that the Australian Labor Party did not provide a credible alternative to the Howard government? The Latham fiasco clearly shows that there is much house-cleaning to be done in the ALP, perhaps Kim Beasley will need to divert a river to clean out those stables?

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Conservatives Fight Back – "Beware the Entertaining 'Food Police' "

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The conservatives fight back against Supersize Me – there is a new web site that dissects & attempts to demolish Spurlock’s arguments against McDonald’s:

The “Food Police” are back, this time in a comedy entitled Super Size Me, produced by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. Spurlock is a former TV show producer best known for his work creating the gross-out TV show “I Bet You Will” in which, among many other crazy stunts, he says he “bet a girl to let us shave her
head into a Mohawk… combined it with three sticks of butter and she ate her own hair in this giant butter hairball.”

Tech Central Station (TCS), a science, technology and public policy online journal, will serve as a clearing
house for materials related to the documentary Super Size Me. Our mission: to provide visitors with the facts and science-based information on obesity and nutrition to balance this film’s “gross-out” performance art.

TechCentralStation.com will have a special section on its website housing articles, analysis, studies, and other information relevant to Super Size Me. Visit www.techcentralstation.com to learn more.

According to Tech Central Station Host and nationally syndicated columnist, James K. Glassman, “Super Size Me is not a serious look at a real health problem. It is, instead, an outrageously dishonest and dangerous piece of self-promotion. Through his antics, Spurlock sends precisely the wrong message. He absolves us
of responsibility for our own fitness. We aren’t to blame for being fat; big corporations are!”

As for me, the only time I eat the traditional McDonald’s fare is when I am drunk and it is about 3 am. It really helps as I throw up almost immediately afterwards thus helping to avoid a bad hangover! On the other hand I am real fan of their new menu of salads & stuff – it’s worth checking out.

As to anyone who believes that you can eat any brand of junk food all the time and in large quantities & not become obese and/or unhealthy in some way – you need to work on both your mental faculties and logical reasoning capacity.

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Brushes with Fame

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Sometimes through life you run into famous people – we call these ‘brushes with fame’ in my family. Recently I was reminiscing with friends about two brushes with fame that related to well-known international politicians.

Many years ago – in the mid 1990’s – in Sydney Australia I met George Bush Snr at a function. Funnily enough Mr Bush stopped to chat with me (much to the concern of the security folk) during a circuit of the room. We chatted for about five minutes about how he was enjoying his trip, nothing of any consequence was discussed. But one thing I do recall is that he seemed like a really nice guy who seemed to take a genuine pleasure in meeting people. You can see how this would have come in handy in his old job.
Then not long after that, at another function, I met Margaret Thatcher – nowadays Baroness Thatcher – at another function. While Lady Thatcher was very polite and chatted with me for a few minutes it was hard to see how anyone had ever warmed to her on casual acquaintance. She did not seem the type to be comfortable just chatting with anyone, and she gave off a more intense vibe than Mr Bush.

I now wonder if the different levels of warmth I experienced from each of these politicians was the result of a cultural difference between the US and UK?

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Only 26 more sleeps until the election is over!

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It is with a grateful heart that I realise that it is only 26 more sleeps until the Australian election is over. Perhaps to liven things up during the campaign they should make the contenders put on sumo wrestling suits & fight instead of the extremely dull debate they had last night. The sheer tedium of the media presence of John Howard and Mark Latham have been unrelieved by any such comic relief.

As Barry Cassidy over at the ABC has pointed out the “Worm [on the televised debate] surprises but ‘Dicko’ may have final say”. The people the contenders want and need to engage are actually all watching Australian Idol. And the fact is you can vote on that without having to leave home. The voter participation rates would be much higher if we could just SMS our votes in.

One thing is for certain John Howard is looking old and tired – and his messages are all sounding a little repetitive. I’m still not sure that Mark Latham is the answer either. One thing is certain, now that they know officially about the surplus they will be handing out the bribes to any swinging voter they can find (unfortunately this group never seems to include me).

It will be interesting to see how it all pans out. There is good coverage of the election on the ABC Election 2004 site.

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