Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Is wisdom gobbledygook or gobbledygook wisdom ?

Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right.
Laurens Van der Post, The Lost World of the Kalahari (1958)



What about you Laurens, did you think you were right ? Personally, I like to think I'm right because I know I am often wrong.

"I'm not fooled by that," you reply. "It's easy to see through the poor smokescreen of your false modesty."

All right I am hiding my real intention which is to gain world dominance and I can only achieve this by admitting I'm wrong ; after all who would  believe, never mind follow, someone who always thinks and says  - it is, though I may err, usually a man - "I am always right."

By accepting that I am wrong I am therefore right which makes me quite frightening whether I'm right or wrong.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The brothers' song

Where sandstorm blasts to a leaden sky
Where sunlit days let the dhows sail by
Where voluptuous dates fruit the tree
That's the place for Spike and me !

Where rocky mountains hold scudding cloud
Where rushing rivers sing out loud
Where eagle soars by rocky scree
That's the place for Jed and me.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Lochee Gangster

Throughout the early 1950s a thick set bespectacled man with wavy dark reddish hair wearing an olive green suit and a white open necked shirt would stand just by the Dundee Pasteurised Milk shop at the junction of Bank Street and Lochee High Street. His trousers were kept up around his substantial girth by a wide brown leather belt. As I remember he was a man in his late 20s or early 30s. He always seemed to be there whenever my friends and I went down from Clement Park to the shops to do some messages for our mothers. He never spoke to anyone and he always carried a lit cigarette in his left hand which he would occasionally puff. We always gave him a wide berth. We knew he had a gun hidden under his suit jacket, tucked into his belt. He was the Lochee gangster. How we came to know that is lost in the mists of time. Maybe it was one of those bits of information that 8 or 9 years old boys pass on to the next set of 8 or 9 years old boys.
Anyway he must have been a pretty smart gangster because I know for a fact that between the years of 1950 to 1957, when I lived in Lochee, the police did not catch him for he stood outside the DPM shop day in and day out and was never apprehended.
It seems amazing to me now that we never heard of any bank robberies taking place in Lochee at that time.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The death of Osama bin Laden, part 2 : Nicky Campbell makes a naive observation.

Well, it turns out that Osama bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed. It ends up that he did not cower behind his wife when his assassins approached. It comes about that he was shot and not brought to face justice. Experts tell me how naive I am and that I should understand that these incidents can be messily violent and sometimes I just have to accept that's the way it is. I think they tell me this because I don't really know as much as I should about being a member of the human race, but I am learning. I may become wise. I may come to understand that two wrongs make a right. In the meantime the experts have their cynicism and I am left with my weak sarcasm.
On UK BBC Radio 5 yesterday morning (4th May, 2011) a former commander of the USA special services section, the SEALS, I believe they are called, said, while being interviewed by the radio presenter Nicky Campbell, that he did not think it was a good idea that photographs of bin Laden's death should be broadcast since they would be fairly gruesome and he wouldn't want any children of his exposed to these kinds of images. This seems a reasonable argument and in a cheap below the belt response to the former SEAL commander Nicky Campbell observed that bin Laden's 12 years old daughter had witnessed her father being assassinated. That was a naive thing to say Nicky.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The unlinked deaths of Osama bin Laden and Jean Charles de Menezes : acts of democratic justice ?

If Osama bin Laden actually carried out the heinous terrorist acts of which he was generally accused, or if he actively promoted and supported their carrying out, then he should have been brought to justice. He should have gone on trial to answer the charges. I have always been told this is the democratic way.
However if he died as a consequence of violently resisting his arrest then those servicemen involved in his "capture" - surely it was not his "assassination", that's not the democratic way - may have had no alternative but to defend their own lives by firing back at their armed assailants.
I suppose this is why in 2005 the entirely innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes had to be killed by police on a Saturday morning in the carriage of an underground train following the horrendous 7th July terrorist attacks in London. The difference between the two killings was that de Menezes hadn't ever been accused of being a terrorist, had never supported or committed an act of terrorism, hadn't got a weapon and didn't violently resist arrest.
So is that the price we all have to pay sometimes for the honour of living the democratic way ?