Before I lose this great quote…


We trained hard, but it seemed that everytime we were beginning to form into teams we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress, while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation. – Petronius, 210 BCE

Today in History

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Kaitangata Mining Disaster

Ban Cluster Bombs


Last year I went to a talk by an Australian photo-reporter at the Quaker House about Cluster Bombs. One of the images he showed that lingers in the mind was two Lebanese ambulance men pushing a bloody stretcher out of a hospital after the recent Israel campaign in Lebanon. They had delivered a victim of a cluster bomb explosion. One of the ambulance men was shirtless: having run out of bandages he had shoved his shirt into the wound. The man still died. Images like that tend to stick in my mind.

Cluster bombs are little canisters that hitting the ground shatter into little balls. If they don’t explode immediately that can stay in the environment for years, making mobility dangerous. Shaken a couple of times they explode. They are brightly coloured and children like to pick them up. They disfigure, cripple and kill. They have been used in battlefields around the world for at least twenty years, including the Balkan wars, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

At the end of the invasion of southern Lebanon Israel fired several million canisters into that country. 50% did not explode immediately and remain in the soil to be destroyed one by one, very carefully. This was reported to one of the countries of manufacture, Norway, I believe in this case. The government considered the consequences and told their military “We are banning these. Destroy your stocks.” They did so in a matter of weeks. When there is a will…

The New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition has a petition to support an international ban on cluster bombs. New Zealand is one of the countries advocating this ban, as it did on landmines.

Make a difference.

Colonoscopy 12 February 2008

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Colonoscopy was successful: nothing unexpected in my bowels. My next check-up will be in five years time. The discomfort will pass. I even managed to swallow the saline mixture without gagging (lots of lemonade).

I spent the rest of the morning with my mother who was visiting from Invercargill. I rendez-vous’d with her in the foyer of the hospital. We arrived more or less at the same time.

She gave me my last present for Christmas, a copy of The Gorse Blooms Pale, by Dan Davin. The letter from the hospital had been my first gift.

The book includes a map of modern Invercargill which seems anachronistic as he effectively left in 1932. Had he remained our lives would have overlapped.

It is also the tenth anniversary of my brother’s death. Spooky. This collusion of events should appear on When Coincidences Go Ominous.


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The hospital rang today to confirm that I am going in on Tuesday for a colonoscopy. This means no more foods containing grains, seeds or pips until then.

Hopefully this shouldn’t be too hard. It’s the third time in my life that I’ve done this gig. The cancer bullet came too close when it took out my twin brother and not me.

At least I can take a couple of days off work beforehand as sick leave.

Electricity, a Mobile Phone and a New Life

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A similar photo to the above appears in the Amity Foundation calendar for 2008. It appeals to me as it appears contradictory: traditional folk costume and developing technology. There’s a balance here between an old world and a new world. The article accompanying the photo can be found here.

The Amity foundation was founded by mainland Chinese Christians to promote development in the People’s Republic of China.

The world’s rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan

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Stolen from No Right Turn, the Independent has an article on the plastic sargasso that the North Pacific Gyre has become.

I have sometimes wondered that the K-T Boundary was caused by the Dinosauroid's dependence on iridium-based technology.