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Monthly Archives: November 2007

Happiness-Henry-David-Thoreau-Posters

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You think I don’t get it.

I get it.

You’ve got my data. I couldn’t hide my hard copy of the data from you.

I’m regretting sending you a soft copy, but you shrewdly didn’t leave me any room to maneuver when you asked.

You picked my mind, got my insight on the topic.

You checked when, if, I plan to publish. You satisfied yourself that its a long way away. I simply don’t have the time now.

You carefully framed the next step : I’ll see you next term. And in a totally different context.

You told me nothing about the state of your research, deliberately vague when I asked.

Did you think I wouldn’t notice?

I expected better from a HKU professor.

 

Dr. Gregory House: They’re out there, doctors, lawyers postal workers some of them doing great some of them doing lousy. Are you going to base your whole life on who you got stuck in a room with?

Eve: I’m going to base this moment on who I’m stuck in a room with. It’s what life is. It’s a series of rooms and who we get stuck in those rooms with adds up to what our lives are.

This is a beautiful way of looking at the world and our journey through life.

One of my favorite episodes of House because of the strange interplay between House and Eve.

The secret flight plans of American military planes have revealed for the first time how European countries helped send prisoners, including British citizens, to the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Despite widespread criticism of alleged human rights abuses and torture at the US base in Cuba, a Sunday Times investigation has shown that at least five European countries gave the United States permission to fly nearly 700 terrorist suspects across their territory.

Last week, Europe’s leading watchdog on human rights alleged that European countries had breached the international convention against torture by giving the US secret permission to use its airspace.

….

Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, said: “What happened at Guantanamo was torture and it is illegal to provide facilities or anything to make this torture possible. Under the law, European governments should have intervened and should not have given permission to let these flights happen.”

Gomes added: “It’s clear to me that Guantanamo could not have been created without the involvement of European countries.

Flight logs reveal secret rendition – Times Online

Having done my fair share of reading on the Convention against Torture, and the ban contained in it against refoulment, of sending people out of your country to a country where you know they are likely to be tortured, I think the result of this, whether there is any outcry at all may be an interesting acid test of the provisions effectiveness in international law.

So far it looks like the legal obligation is worth very little, if it can be avoided by such a simple obfuscation of military flights. Indeed it would seem that the more organized and systematic the torture, the more and higher the level of state involvement, the more other states are willing to acquiesce in it.

That would totally disembowel the fundamental ethos of the Convention, protecting against state sanctioned torture. Instead as far as refoulment was concerned, it would be increasingly permissive as the state sanction increases. I may be overstating the argument a tad, but I believe this is one credible interpretation of where the norm is going.

Good for Rotania, not so good for the rest of us.

My current wallpaper and an interesting quote. Thought I’d share both with you.

 

Ian Smith, the former Rhodesian prime minister who unilaterally declared independence from Britain to preserve white rule has died aged 88 after a long illness.

Smith governed the country, now called Zimbabwe, for 15 years from 1964 to 1979, a turbulent period of guerilla war and international isolation. Seen by many as the symbol of colonial-era racism in Africa, Smith was unrepentant to the end, convinced that Zimbabwe would have been better off under minority rule than that of his successor, the current President Robert Mugabe, with whom he shared nothing but a disdain for Britain. 

Smith had recently suffered a stroke and died at a clinic in Cape Town.

Ian Smith, ex-PM of Rhodesia, dies at 88 | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

Ian Smith, an odd person indeed for me to take an interest in. But at the intersection of my two interests,  the History of the British Empire and Public International Law, no one else has as stridently or as brashly staked their claim to be a player on the international scene and held out as their main credential the strength of their racism.

My interest does not mean I endorse him. The state he founded was built upon a platform of deliberate racism, his politics alone mean that the world was right to shun him and his country, but to think that such a small country and such a tiresome man, can command such a significant portion of interest both in his time and retrospectively, are things that tweak my interest.

Angered at the tide of decolonization in the 1950s and 1960s that was seeing Africa move into black majority democracies where the empire had once held sway, and determined to not let his own country be liberalized in the same manner, Smith’s racist right wing Rhodesian Front held out for a Rhodesia that was run by its 200,000  white inhabitants and with no say at all for its 5,000,000 black inhabitants.

Smith became prime minister promising to prolong white rule and made his historic Unilateral Declaration of Independence on November 11 1965. He gained a momentary hope of recognition, from the other Apartheid state, South Africa, but even this comfort was fleeting and recognition was soon withdrawn. Smith’s Rhodesia was never to become a real country.

International condemnation to the Declaration of Independence was swift. Nearly all the members of the UN were swift to condemn his overt racism and the UN Security Council slapped sanctions on him that ended up as a comprehensive ban on trade. Not that it meant anything, most multinationals were willing to break the ban to get access to Rhodesia’s raw materials and agricultural exports.

It was the arrival of that upstart freedom fighter, Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union which put the pressure on. Armed attacks aimed at the white farmers made Smith’s position untenable in the long run. This combined with the independence of Mozambique from Portugal to a black majority rule democracy and the waning support of South Africa, tired of its quarrelsome neighbor, that finally pushed the regime over the edge.

In April 1979 the first multiracial elections were held in Rhodesia, which saw Abel Muzorewa become the first black Prime Minister of what was now called Zimbabwe Rhodesia. However, under the Internal Settlement, which allowed the elections to be held, whites retained control of the country’s judiciary, civil service, police and armed forces, as well as having a quarter of the seats in parliament reserved for them. While this was welcomed by the British government of Margaret Thatcher, opposition from the rest of the Commonwealth meant that Britain did not recognize the new state.

In December 1979 following multi-party talks at Lancaster House in London, Britain resumed control of Rhodesia, and with the help of observers from other Commonwealth countries, oversaw the first full participatory elections. During the four month period that the country was restored to the status of a British colony it was known officially as “the British Dependency of Southern Rhodesia”. The Republic of Zimbabwe came into being on April 18, 1980.

Not that Smith went quietly. He was in opposition in the Zimbabwe parliament till 1986 and stayed a persistent and prominent thorn in the side of Mugabe while living in exile abroad until he returned to Zimbabwe and then to live out the last days of his life in South Africa.

If a problem can be solved, there is no need to worry.

If a problem can’t be solved, there is no need to worry.

– Shantideva, Buddhist Philosopher

This was my philosophy of life.

They were fine words to hang on to. I wasn’t living up to them, that’s part of being human. Some times what we try to do, what we aim to do, says as much as what we achieve.

I’ve learned in the last few weeks, few months, that there is another kind of problem. The kind that solve themselves. Where the solution is patience, and sympathy and the support of good people and most important of all, time.

I’m not a good person for problems like that. My attitude to problems, I’m told a universally male attitude, is to try and fix things. To tinker, tweak and refine the solution until there is the perfect instant solution.

I’m learning to rein this part of me in, accepting that I can’t fix those things which it’s not for me to fix.

Sometimes the solution is inaction. Sometimes the solution requires just your faith that there is a solution. Sometimes a solution is nothing like the solution you want to create.

 

You Will Receive a Body.
You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for as long as you live. How you take care of it or fail to take care of it can make an enormous difference in the quality of your life.

You Will Learn Lessons.
You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called Life. Each day, you will be presented with opportunities to learn what you need to know. The lessons presented are often completely different from those you think you need.

There Are No Mistakes, Only Lessons.
Growth is a process of trial, error and experimentation. You can learn as much from failure as you can from success. Maybe more.

A Lesson is Repeated Until it is Learned.
A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it (as evidenced by a change in your attitude and ultimately your behavior) then you can go on to the next lesson.

Learning Lessons Does Not End.
There is no stage of life that does not contain some lessons. As long as you live there will be something more to learn.

There Is No Better Place Than Here.
When your there has become a here you will simply discover another there that will again look better than your here. Don’t be fooled by believing that the unattainable is better than what you have.

Others Are Merely Mirrors of You.
You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself. When tempted to criticize others, ask yourself why you feel so strongly.

What You Make of Your Life Is Up to You.
You have all the tools and resources you need. What you create with those tools and resources is up to you. Remember that through desire, goal setting and unflagging effort you can have anything you want. Persistence is the key to success.

The Answers Lie Inside of You.
The solutions to all of lifes problems lie within your grasp. All you need to do is ask, look, listen and trust yourself.

Rules of Being Human

A vista changed, lit with flickering flames,
Arises unbidden. Usurping space I’d sold
To toil through dead men’s thoughts. In search of Truth.

Was I vain to search for Truth in Reason?
A fool, no doubt. To tend a soul demands
A minds subordination to heart.

If consumed in flame, emits the vibe,
Of indignant rage; desist. Instead elect
to take my place, to stand in mine own shoes.

And find, in fire, the heat that cracks through frost.
That reaches deep to thaw the steadfast seed
From fertile ground. Within, hope springs eternal.

 

Welcome to Alter Ego What if you could live your life over again?

You can click here to play the game.

Alter Ego

How cool is this

I remember playing this game in DOS all those years ago. And then grabbing it off Home of the Underdogs when I found it was available there.

Now someone has gone and made an online version of it, keeping the old look and feel, but making it easier to access than it was on DOS, where it was a bit of a pain to play on newer computers.

This nifty little game lets you replay life again, and you can make all those idiotic decisions that you made again, or go down totally different paths and live a life totally different from yours.

It is an old school DOS game, so don’t go into it with any greater expectations than that. It’s good for a few hours of fun though, so give it a spin if you’ve never played before. Live your life differently.