Monday, October 28, 2013

SUM TING WONG (mainstream media)

Our choices of news-services reflect our prejudices, and vice versa. It’s probably always been like that. Those who are always quoting conservative newspapers or mainstream TV are conservative and mainstream individuals; those whose references are to online blogs or forums (while ignoring the standard news-sources) are probably rebels and sceptics. People judge our characters by our choices. The internet has broadened the range, but the division is an old one.

What the internet changed, mainly, are the quality of the reporters and the independence of commentators’ opinions. The official news-media allows no departure from the Party Line. Indeed, it allows no departure from the teleprompter’s version.

A couple of months ago a Korean plane crashed while landing at a California airport. A local TV newsreader carefully read out the pilots’ names, while her audience could see the names printed on the separate video feed. Sum Ting Wong (Captain), Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk (she pronounced it “fook” rhyming with “book”) and Bang Ding Ow. You can Google those names, if you want to do your own peer review.

It was a one-off, and it would be unfair to build a case on one brief example of mindless recitation. Or would it? It did illustrate the mainstream zombies’ instructions to say what their superiors tell them to say – no hesitation, no doubts, no deviation.

An Israeli senior executive at the BBC ordered his minions to play down Israel’s bombing of a Gaza suburb during one of its raids. That sort of manipulation is common in the MSM these days. In general, it is beholden to its advertisers and to the legislators who can make life difficult – and to the lobbyists who own the legislators. A satirist on a US TV channel invented the word “truthiness” to describe the official versions of events.

The “alternative media” is free of such restraints. It offers alternatives to the official “truths”. Mainstream reporters, to a man and woman, presume they are reporting the truth; freelance bloggers increasingly presume they are being lied to by the authorities. The alternative media doubted Saddam Hussein had WMDs; the mainstream media weren’t allowed to doubt. If they were told sum ting wong, they reported it.

The mainstream news sources parrot the official versions of WTC #7 (the building that allegedly collapsed in its own footprint because of a few office fires), the gassings in Syria, the Iranian nuclear plans, and the death of Osama. The blogosphere insists the official stories are blatant propaganda, and wonders what is being covered up, and why. I myself jeered at the Osama lies in a post of May 2011, and at the infamous “wiped off the map” false-translation in February 2012. [Both posts available in the Archives.]

There is a gulf of mistrust. Parallels are being drawn with earlier false-flag attacks. The Reichstag Fire paved the way for Hitler’s equivalent of the so-called PATRIOT Act, also drafted ahead of the event. It has emerged that most of the military experts interviewed on Western TV are in the paid service of companies with a vested interest in Western wars. They are all part of a pro-war propaganda machine – TV stations and interviewees alike.

Unquestioning belief generates heresies that must be quashed, and heretics who must be persecuted. The MSM has become an arm of a 21st-Century Inquisition. We are on a slippery slope, now, with a rapidly increasing distrust of officials and their mouthpieces. There is a disconnect between us and them. On the one side the establishment’s stooges and shills: on the other, amateurs and anarchists. There is little scope for compromise.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

"Step away from the car!"

I have fond memories of getting pulled over for speeding along the Thames Embankment in 1963. A youngish copper in the old Bobby-uniform strolled back to us, poked his head through the driver’s window and enquired with the utmost deference, “Is this our car, sir?”

I didn’t quite know how to react to such a question. Fortunately, it was our car. At least, it belonged to the absent boyfriend of the girl I was with (he was off in Europe somewhere, silly man), and that was close enough. We were sent on our way with a gentle reminder of how naughty it was to exceed the posted speed-limit, and we drove off wetting ourselves with the effort to stifle the giggles.

The next time I got stopped for speeding was twenty years later, here in Cayman. The young copper was taken aback when I showed him the car’s papers. “This says Linda Barlow!” He said sharply. “Yes, that’s my wife”, I said. “It’s her car”. Stammering with embarrassment the poor fellow begged me to stay within the limit and hastened away. I wondered, what was that all about?

“Oh, that must have been Timothy Whatsit”, Linda said when I described the incident. “A lovely boy; he always wanted to join the Police.” To this day, she remains on hugging terms with just about all of her former students (Cayman Islands High School 1978-82). From time to time we still benefit in one way or another from her reputation as a teacher who really cared.

The quiet warnings I received on both those occasions were all I needed – all most people would have needed, probably. The courtesy from coppers over the years has left me with a strong respect for – no, not all policemen, by any means, but for those who still remember what their true function is.

American TV programs have changed our local Force since then. A few years ago Linda was pulled over and told that one of her back lights wasn’t working. As she walked around to see for herself, she was ordered sharply: “Step away from the car!” She hesitated, because our two young granddaughters were in the back seat. Again, louder and more urgently, “STEP AWAY FROM THE CAR!” Prudently, she decided not to make a grab for the bombs and grenades in the trunk, lest the clown shoot the girls where they sat in their seatbelts.

I wonder if it could be the paramilitary uniforms that encourage bullying. How can guards of any kind – government or private – think of themselves as part of their community, when they dress in what is to all intents and purposes gang-paraphernalia?

A public Police Force is obliged to serve its community, not to bully it. Regrettably, that idea tends to be honoured more in the theory than the practice. Our local Force a few years ago actually changed its name to “Service”, without in any way softening its attitude towards the people who pay its wages. It still operates largely in secret. Its public announcements are a mockery; we rely on our “marl road” (grapevine) for information on all but the most spectacular of crimes. The man in the street feels no obligation to give information to the Police until “They” start giving information to him.

The other week our Police held a public meeting to which only a handful of outsiders went, in the middle of what by our standards is an epidemic of burglaries, muggings and robberies. Well, the last meeting I went to began with two full hours of prepared speeches read out by the uniforms, affirming what a grand job they’re doing. Only the most diligent of us stayed for the Q & A session. We all left with a feeling of exasperation, and a determination not to waste time like that ever again.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

“My country, right or wrong”

This is written as a tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt. She is not as well known as she ought to be, and not as well revered. I revere her, because she fought for the recognition of what she called “human rights”. But the world loves a winner, and she was not a winner. In the end, not enough of us believed in basic rights for all humans. All her efforts came to naught.

Her memorial is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed as a Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution in 1948. What she did was persuade the UN member-states of the day to commit themselves to acknowledge and respect a list of defined “basic rights” for all humans. No mean achievement.

It was a first. All previous lists of basic rights had applied only to specific tribes, castes, classes or nations. The US Bill of Rights applied only to US citizens as then defined, the Rights of Man only to the French, the Magna Carta only to the English nobility, the Ten Commandments only to the Israelites. (“Thou shalt not kill” did not apply to foreigners; hence all the slaughters of Canaanites and what-have-you reported in the Books of Moses.)

Eleanor’s Universal Declaration was formulated in the wake of the Nuremberg Trials of German nationals and allies. The idea of a universal standard of behaviour was a new concept in international law. For the first time, national laws were accepted (in the strictest theory) as being subordinate to the Declaration whenever they were incompatible with it.

I was just following orders and I was just obeying my country’s laws were dismissed as illegitimate reasons for doing nasty things to people. Killing ethnic minorities (Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, etc) was now “a crime against humanity”. So was torture; so was imprisonment without a fair trial. Above all, so was waging wars of choice, on the grounds that wars give cover to all kinds of atrocities.

After a nod of acknowledgment to a notional spirit of universal brotherhood, the first “human right” listed in the Declaration is the right to life. There was nothing in the resolution about chemical weapons or nuclear weapons or any other sort of weapons. All that UN member-nations undertook to do was to recognise no distinction in the worth of human lives, regardless of race, nationality, etc.

It failed from Day One, of course. How could it not fail? Tribal and national loyalties are always paramount. Mrs Roosevelt should have had the wit to know that. The human DNA is not designed to spurn loyalty to one’s own kind. All humans believe, consciously or sub-consciously, that they are exceptional – and their families, home communities and nations. Self and patriotism trump the brotherhood of man, every time.

Does any Westerner think it’s worth the death of one single member of his own family or home community to stop the chaos in the Middle East? Of course not. I once read of a bumper-sticker at the time of the Iraq invasion, which asked “WHY CAN’T EXXON SEND ITS OWN DAMN TROOPS?” It made sense to me, but it never caught on.

Today there are patriotic young gamesters in air-conditioned offices who are paid good money to wipe out foreign villagers at the press of a button once or twice a day. Is it a good thing that our boys aren’t being killed and mutilated, and “the others” are? Well, naturally. Only anarchists and communists would even doubt it. I mean, surely.

It’s been interesting, watching the human rights experiment, and I am sorry it never got off the ground. A world without respect for foreigners’ rights is a world forever at war, and that bothers me. I have grandchildren, who may one day find themselves targets. (They live in Norway, and Norway has lots of oil. More oil than Syria, actually. Uh-oh.)

In the age of drones, foreigners (Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, and their modern equivalents) can be slaughtered without the slightest personal risk to the slaughterers. That is tribalism gone mad.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Noah, Yahweh and company

Two earlier posts of mine (The Children of Israel, January 2012, and The Hebrews, February 2013) offered a revisionist history of the Israelites and their beginnings, working backwards in time from the exile in “Egypt” to the Ebuwa-im whose name was the fictional Abraham. The posts reflected my personal speculations, as does this one. I realise how cheeky it is to offer them as competition for the official history, backed by 3500 years of peer-reviews. Nevertheless...! The current job is to trace the Hebrew gods back to the new world that began with the arrival of Noah and his boat in the mountains of Ur/Ararat.

We are faced with the usual difficulty of working with English transliterations of words recorded in the ancient Hebrew of more than a hundred generations ago. Those records were transcribed at irregular intervals by different writers, were based on oral legends kept alive by tribal bards during the preceding fifty-odd generations, and bent into shape by the propaganda needed to facilitate Moses’s creation of The Children of Israel – the fanatical religious military force that was the Taliban of its day.

With that small problem in mind, one can perceive the similarity of the gods’ names that crop up in the story. Noah (No-wah) was a variant of (Ya)h'weh, (Je)hovah and Yakov/Jacob - all of them possible variants of Heber/Hepat, a god widely worshipped in the Hittite and Assyrian empires of the age.

Abraham’s god was Yahweh, written YHWH without vowel-indicators, in order to avoid squabbles among the diverse tribes that comprised the later Israelites. Different tribes, different dialects, different accents...

[B is a common vocalisation of P in different dialects, and N is a vocalisation of H, though not a common one. H is notoriously easily dropped, in speech. Ebuwa/Ebla (w=l) was a city and region named for Eber/Heber, and “Abraham” was Ebuwa-im, the people of the place. W and V are common variants of each other, as are V and B. This is not the place to expound on other variants. Some other time, perhaps.]

The similarities would have been chosen in order to credit the Hebrews with remarkable consistency in their loyalty to the god of their ancestral homeland, for the entire period from their departure from Ur of the Chaldeans to their arrival in Haran [Genesis 11.31] in the border state of Ebuwa. Haran was a thriving commercial centre on one of the main trading routes from west to east. Merchants would have gotten rich from doing business in such a place, and Genesis describes Abram/Abraham as “very rich in cattle, silver and gold” when he left the town.

Those were disturbed times for the border regions of the rival empires of Hattia (Hittites), Assyria and Egypt. Many of the peoples – Abraham/Ebuwa-im, Mitanni/Midians, Hurrians/Aryans, Amurru/Amorites – would have experienced turmoil from changes of the boundaries. Tribal communities would have been pushed hither and yon.

By their association with the Hebrews (Ebuwa-im), the Children of Israel claimed the same ancestral god, with new legends to back up the claim. Once the Children’s priests and military leaders had expelled or killed those of the refugees who declined to buy into the legends, the new tribe and its god conquered the independent cities of the south. The “wilderness” in which the slaughters occurred is far more likely to have been the Lebanese hinterland than the Sinai Desert, by the way.

It remains only to wonder how “semitic” the Hebrews and Israelites were. Peering through the mists of time, historians have determined (provisionally) that the ruling classes of the Hurrians in the mountains and foothills of Ur spoke an Aryan language. What the lower classes spoke, is not yet decided. The best guess is “some unidentified native-Anatolian language”; all such languages were of the Aryan family.

Language is not the same thing as race, but it is to some extent indicative. It’s not at all out of the question that some of the Hebrews and Israelites had Aryan ancestry. However, whatever the cultures of the component tribes were or weren’t before their sojourns in Haran and “the land of Egypt”, they would have been thoroughly semiticised during those sojourns.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

On being a housefather

After completing my standard three-year stint of work in an offshore-tax-haven in 1981, in Cayman, I retired again. This time, I became an unpublished author and a housefather (“parent of first resort”) to Ross from age six to age eleven. During those five years, absent from the world of business, I was known as either Linda’s husband or Ross’s father. I had no particular identity of my own.

Home all day, it was I who rescued Ross every time he fell in the swimming pool – and (once) in the septic tank with the too-easily removable cover. I was one of the few men at the parent-teacher meetings of the private primary school and later the government high school. I was the family’s representative in the neighbourhood baby-sitting club (one ticket for every hour before midnight, and for every half-hour after midnight).

I dealt with all the injuries – lacerated feet from broken beer-bottles beside the cricket-field, a bleeding thigh from a friend’s pocket-knife while out in the scrub playing, a dislocated ankle from slipping on a concrete culvert...

My terms of employment included hospital attendance, so it was I who took the ankle to be un-dislocated – and who discovered the traditional Jamaican remedy. After administering a local anaesthetic, the doctor said to me, “You might not want to watch this next bit”. But of course I did watch – and bravely stifled a yell when he knocked the bone back into place with a mighty thump with the heel of his hand. Yikes.

One Saturday morning I risked a lynching by walking into the Hospital’s Waiting Room with a six-year-old boy whose face was puffed up to double its size – for all the world, a victim of brutal child-abuse. Hands raised to ward off the hushed hostility, I faced the mob and said “maiden plum”. Upon which, the room sighed with relief and resumed its conversations, leaving us to go about our business.

“Maiden plum” is a wild plant with a very effective self-defence mechanism: the touch of a leaf brings pain and swelling. Think poison-ivy times ten. Ross had been fooling around in the scrub behind our apartments with Jay again, had touched a leaf and then his face. (Somebody told me of a bulldozer-driver who ran his machine into a whole patch of maiden plum. He saw the mist rising, and ran – left the machine in gear, left the field, left the job: left the Island, for all anybody knew.)

Linda took Ross to Peru for a couple of weeks, when he was eight. An accidental dunk in the Amazon River exposed him to possible infection by some dread disease whose name I can’t recall now, that required an antidote to be administered with a large needle. The hospital nurse recklessly showed him the instrument; Ross fought him off; and I helped hold my struggling son still. It was the most shameful thing I ever did to him, or anybody else; the very recollection makes me break into a sweat. I apologised desperately at the time, and he forgave me; but I never forgave myself.

A few days later, the hospital phoned and told me the inoculation didn’t take properly (or something like that) and had to be done again. I told Ross, “The doctor says if you don’t get the injection again you will probably get very, very sick. I think you should do it, but I won’t make you. And I won’t let that stupid nurse anywhere near you. You have to decide.”

He trusted me, as he has always trusted me.

 I didn’t want to be a parent, and I haven’t been a particularly good one; but there is a huge, huge, love between us that makes for an amazingly strong bond. At age twelve, he begged me to give up cigarettes because he didn’t want to live without me. Well, fair enough: I knew I couldn’t live without him.