Monthly Archives: November 2008

Rendition

Last night I watched Rendition. Though it starred Rheese Witherspoon she was, thankfully, absent for most of the film. I can’t say that I find her to be a particularly talented actress (I refuse to call them actors – it’s not grammatically correct). I can’t say that I found Jake Gyllenhall that convincing either as the CIA analyst but the rest of the cast was way above average.

It tells the story of an Egyptian, who holds a green card, being forcibly removed upon return to the US from a conference in South Africa. We follow his journey as he is returned to Egypt for interrogation and torture. The film also follows the story of 2 young Egyptian lovers caught up in the sub plot surrounding a suicide bombing at the start of the week. The slightly unbelievable part is that the events all take place over a 7 day period.

I would recommend this film as it contains a good plot twist or two; deals well with the problem of extra juidicial rendition; the blinkeredness of those who carry out the policy and the fact that torture does not lead to good intelligence gathering.

This is Hollywood providing its liberal agenda to modern politics. Not always a bad thing, especially as the liberal opposition has been far from convincing in fighting the Bush policy of non-constitutional justice. It also shows a glimpse of the Arab side of the equation and what can lead someone to become a “martyr”.

Thanks To The Ozzies

I bet you can’t guess what I’ve been doing this afternoon. Go on, guess!

Yes, I have been watching the Wales/Australia match on TV. For those who don’t know the score, look away now.

It was avery good match with lots of tension, tries, missed penalties and a score that was to close to call right up to the end. The match was especially good because we came close against South Africa, played poorly against Canada (but one) and were outclassed in the second half by New Zealand.

This week we actually looked capable of playing for the full 80 minutes; a weakness in recent matches. Our passing looked quick and good and we played with width when needed. We actually looked capable of winning from the time we took the lead. Yet Australia never really looked beaten.

While England – Ha! Ha! Ha! – are struggling and looking bereft of ideas, we look forward to the forthcoming 6 Nations matches in the New Year. We need to prove that last year’s Grand Slam was not a fluke. That doesn’t mean that we are favourites, nor should assume an entitlement to be champions, we need to prove that this is not another of Wales’ false dawns. 

So thyanks to Australia for the early Christmas present. For posterity’s sake it was 21-18.

Political Ping Pong

As you will see from the Hatching Post we have had a busy day. Just before we finished I realised something that disturbs me.

We have had a lot of help from a young lady at Communities First. They do a great deal to help around the estate we live on; in addition they are providing us with a great deal of help in finding funding. It was good that 2 of their staff turned out to help.

What I have realised is that we have now entered a new world – political justification. This is where “competing” agencies have to justify their existence in order to secure their jobs and funding. Now I love politics as a sport but internicine fighting really turns my stomach. To me politics is about helping others and providing support for the wider society.

Unfortunately we forgot to take photos to garner local publicity. Now we’ll need to approach our friends to obtain the ones they took to ensure that we get the publicity we need. We were told that the photos taken would appear in the local council publicity rag and the local paper.

What worries me is that Sustaining Life will not feature but it will become an exercise undertaken by the local council’s workers. I don’t object to this providing that it’s made clear that Sustaining Life organised the event, not the other way round and that this is not a council venture.

The thing is that we have to tread a thin line between being forceful and biting the hand that helps to feed us.

That’s The Wonder of Woolworths

So it looks like this maybe the end of the road for Woolworths; not that it should be a great surprise to anyone. The chain has struggled for at least the last 10 years and countless buyouts, reorganisations and rescues have all failed spectactularly. It lost its way, appeared to be inherently old fashioned in outlook and was unable to compete with the might of Tesco, Asda etc.

Yet we also need to add to the list MFI, a company with identical failings over a similar period of time. So too the demise of Revlon’s factory in Maesteg, now under another name and identity.

What these businesses have in common is that they were once household names and major brands but have been in their deaththrows for a number of years. The hope is that they will be saved again at the eleventh hour by another white knight, The problem is that in today’s financial world there are very few white knights around.

They also suffer from the venture capital disease. They have been bought and sold some many times that they have little of value left. Eeryone has made their money, turned the business around(?) and moved on to better things. Each time they find another sucker to pick up the pieces; so the financial merrygoround continues until the music stops. Who lose? The workers whose only fault is that they are at the bottom of the foodchain living off the scraps.

The question is what should be done? Should we be a true free market society and allow them to die gracefully? Yes, we will see the loss of around 30000 jobs lost but should we spend good money keeping them afloat for nostalgia’s sake alone? How often have you shopped in Woolies, MFI or bought Revlon products? See we have all contributed to their fall.

Yet we have the image of those profligate wasters in the automotive industry going cap in hand to almost every government seeking bailouts to stave off their bloated debts. We’ve already done it for the banks so why not them as well? they say. So if them, what about Woolies etc? Where would we stop?

What we should learn from this is that we cannot trust politicians, bankers, financiers, directors or “experts”. They have all contributed to the current mess through their own hubris. The Masters of the Universe are now the minnows that are living comfortable lives while the rest suffer. They have all encouraged us to spend money we don’t have by spending money that they didn’t have but got from us.

Remember that it is our retirement funds that have been lost. Our taxes that will pay to put things right. The lifelivhoods of us all that will be risked again next time. Do NOT be taken in by the illusion that the politicians, corporations and bankers will learn from this. They’ll all be putting their noses back in the troughs very soon.

I Have Returned

I have a new worst friend, I call them AOL. We have been without access for over a week because they have the inability to answer a question or solve a problem that does not necessitate 5 or more telephone calls. Some were so bad that they admitted that they screwed up during the call – the woman who had to take my credit card details 3 times and asked every question twice.

In other news:

Thanks to Ness and Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee for the wonderful afternoon of prayer, singing, dedicating and thanking. It was worth postponing the rugby for but not quite good enough to have missed it 🙂

Hi to everyone we had time to say hi to or those we couldn’t. Thanks to Living in the Past for being himself. I look forward to taunting you for a longer period soon and being taunted.

We also had a few surprise on the last 2 Sundays.

The Sunday before last we visited Best Man in hospital to wish him a happy birthday. He was not in his ward but was in the “independent room” at the end of the corridor. Then we had another surprise…. he can now walk. When we lasted seen him just before I went to France he was still wheelchair bound. Suddenly he can walk.

Last Sunday afternoon we went to visit again. We walked down to the end of the corridor and found that his stuff was not in the room. Nothing new here, we’re getting used to the moves every time we visit. So we went back to the office to find out where he gone this time – “He’s been discharged”.

Now I know that Best Man may not appreciate this (so please look away now matey!!!) but sometimes prayer is answered in a way you like. Others say that it’s just the doctors, physios and his own desire to improve.

 

Believe what you want!!

Kristallnacht

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the end of The Great War, the war to end all wars. In just over 20 years the world would be ripped asunder by The Great War Part II – Revenge of The Germans. People sometimes forget that there wasn’t any real peace between conflicts.

The 9th November was the 70th anniversary Kristallnacht – The Night of Broken Glass. Here the Nazis committed wholesale destruction of Jewish property. Supposedly in revenge for the murder of minor German official in Paris by a Jew. Later documentary evidence was found that this was just an excuse for an already planned event.

Reinhard Heydrich instructed SS members to burn down synagogues but only where there was no risk of damage to Aryan property or businesses. Anything else they wanted to do was fair game. There would be no interference from the police. Many “ordinary” Germans just stood by and watched as synagogues, businesses and orphanges were destroyed.

This was another step on the gradual journey to extermination. Very few had the courage or faith to stand-up and speak out. In the US 88% of people polled said that what Hitler was doing was wrong. 60% believed that the Jews had “asked for it”.

So when you think of the sacrifice made by our (great) granparents and hear others belittling what they did, and others continue you to do, remember that their willingness to risk their lives helped to save millions from a worse fate. Think of what life would have been like if Hitler had won. Is that what you’d have wanted?

Also remember to think ill of those who send people to their death for their own selfish aims. Sacrifice is wasted by people who don’t have regard for the sancitity of the lives of others.

Good To Be Back!

Just like General MacArthur – I have returned!

I’d not realised how much I would miss posting and reading all those other posts. Now all I need to do is get used to working with WordPress.

As I opened my blog I realised a few things:

1. I’m getting old – 44 days to my birthday.

2. Life is getting harder

3. I have yet another computer programme to get used to.

4. I hadn’t forgotten my wife’s birthday tomorrow.

5. Facebook is not as good as the wibsite. And the new version is no where near as good as the old one.