Saturday, May 24, 2008

falettinme be mice elf agin

Thank you:

In fact, Flash-based web sites are quite possibly one of the most useful pieces of network technology around. Like heroin or microlights, they ensure that those who think it's a good idea aren't around to annoy us for too long.

I think, like most people, when I see a Flash authored website loading, I just close the tab and move on.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Generals gathered in their masses / Just like witches at black masses

About two months ago The Straits Times in Singapore…the governmental mouthpiece…ran what I guess they would consider a fairly safe piece canvassing the various US Presidential likelys (then at least) on China, and it’s emergence as a world superpower.

This, naturally, is an important topic, but especially so in Asia, where China is now easily the dominant power...something Americans at almost every level seem unable to come to terms with, or simply don’t get…the transition has essentially happened, the torch was passed without one party even being aware of it.

So each candidate was asked what their position was on China. Their answers were illuminating.

1. McCain said that he would seek to use America’s economic and military muscle to limit China. He mentioned using aircraft carriers to ‘contain’ China. Beep. Wrong answer: in this part of the world at least the US is already on the backfoot and the perceived failure of the six hundred billion dollar military to defeat even a rag-tag adversary in the Middle East makes the US military look slightly less scary and a little more like an over-teched, slightly impotent monster. And we’re not even gonna mention who has the growing economic muscle, including a billion and a half strong domestic market cushion.

2. Hillary’s answer was that she would allow China to emerge but within US terms. Beep again. Wrong answer. Who’s gonna allow who to do what. You don’t make the rules anymore Hillary. See 1) above.

3. Obama’s response was that he’d work with China. He said America had to come to terms with what was already a fact. Bing: the penny drops.

I know quite a few Americans…some of my good friends over the years have been American (yes and all that sort of thing). I have online conversations with Americans. They are pretty much decent, caring, thinking, smart people.

So, since I guess they are representative of a part of that massive and diverse land, what I truly have never been able to understand is why so many Americans, and in particular the leaders, not only want, but actively to go strive to war. Not just now and then, but since 1945, almost continually. And as a nation it seems to go out of it’s way to always find some person or some country which it can vilify to a level where great swathes of it’s population think they / it are a threat to not only the USA, but to mankind as a whole.

Take Iran. Now, Teheran and its president and the religious leaders may not be the world’s most pleasant regime and I don’t want to live there, although I have little doubt it’s not as gruesomely unpleasant on a day to day basis as we are supposed to believe, but if you can take a step back and rationally look at Iran, you’d need to be seriously deluded to think that they presented a threat to anyone outside their region, or for that matter anyone close. Their two major crimes seem to be, firstly, backing Hezbollah who are, it must be said, enormously popular in the parts of the Lebanon where they hold sway, and in the region as a whole with one or two exceptions; and secondly, and this is the far greater offence, tweaking the nose of the USA in 1979. Repeated claims as to their role in Iraq seem to lack credible evidence.

But no candidate is willing to step back from the platform that Iran is a looming threat to mankind as we know it, despite any evidence to the contrary. For nutty old McCain, stuck in the depths of the Cold War and Vietnam, they are evil and need to be destroyed. I know who I’m more worried about.

Hillary also threatens to ‘obliterate’ them.

Fucking hell…’s like The Alamo all over again, with those plucky US Marines, and the heroic USAF B-2As defending the Righteous Empire against the Mexican savages, who are now apparently carrying Korans.

Even Obama, whilst he wants to talk, won’t back off from the war footing stance that America seems to regard as its destiny.

Margaret Talev in McClatchy says:

For McCain, who supports the unpopular war in Iraq and is running in a tough year for Republicans, Obama's lack of military experience may be his strongest line of attack in the fall.

In other words, he’s not entwined enough in the war machine to keep middle America happy. He may not be "Commander-in-Chief" material!

What in god’s name is wrong with this country???

It wasn’t always this way. After they’d finished dealing to their indigenous peoples, and the folks in the Philippines, the USA had a pretty benign (if you were white) half century. Sure they went to war in 1917 but Germany had taken to sinking their ships and killing their civilians so I guess German miscalculation and provocation played a bit of a role there.

And as the troops went home the USA went back into it's shell. So much so that in 1940 they really had no real standing military of any size.

And they had to be forced unto WW2. Remember, it was Hitler that declared war on the US.

But in that war, something seemed to snap. I guess, firstly, they made lots and lots of money out of it without suffering in the way that just about every other combatant nation did, thus the victory was both profitable and relatively painless. The victory gave the nation a taste of power which was something they’d not seemed to crave before. And secondly, they seemed to like it. They liked all of it. As a nation they decided they liked wars, it gave them a sense of national identity. They liked the ego boost that the endless flexing of military muscle gave them. They made countless movies about and still do. They liked the fact that having enemies and fighting them gave them, the nation, a chance to flex those muscles. America liked having evil empires to rail against and fight wars, albeit often proxy wars, with.

And the nation settled into the Orwellian state of perpetual war, which is pretty much where it’s been ever since.

The end of the cold war removed one enemy but it didn’t take long to invent a couple more. Serious discussion in Washington asks now if war with China is inevitable.

Inevitable…why for gods sake.

Why do you need to invent these enemies, why?

Well I guess war is one of the few growth industries the USA has left, but it’s a largely self defeating one, especially as the nation borrows to fund the industry and seems to spin into an ever bigger defence / war spending hole as China, Japan and Germany look on with loans at hand.

An increasingly unhappy endgame seems closer than any of the candidates, or their electorate, realise and one needs to worry what sort of lashing out is going to take place when that reality sinks in.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kick it in the guts, Trev

I know he's linked to me, so this could be seen as self serving (although it's not meant to be), but Chris Bourke's EMI reflections are absolutely brilliant, and I can't wait for part two.

Bryan Staff and the late Sheran Ashley wrote a wonderful book some years back on the convoluted history of the NZ recording history, which really needs to be expanded on, with personal histories of this sort. There are so many stories to tell.

Chris, where do you find this stuff?