Monday, April 28, 2003

Here's a quick lesson on the geography of the British Isles - specifically for Victor who consistently manages to get this simple concept totally wrong. Witness his recent posting to my guest book where he confused England's Saint George with the 'British' patron saint: St Patrick (sic).

Britain is the big island on the right - consisting of Wales (I am from Wales and may be deemed to be Welsh), Scotland and England (I am not from England, and may not be deemed English).

UK is Britain plus (rightly or wrongly) Northern Ireland (and probably loads of other small Islands).

The Republic of Ireland (the southern part of the island of Ireland) is a entirely separate nation state.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Happy St George's Day to all my English friends

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Saturday, April 19, 2003

Blending in with the locals

I have this strange feeling I may look slightly conspicuous.

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Saturday, April 12, 2003

Hate to say it but I'm chuffed to bit's about Llanelli getting knocked out of the Heineken Cup. They've already protested they deserve special status on the basis of past achievements. Gallagher would have taken a win tonight as vindication that he should be leading the Iraqi interim authority.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Looks like we were justified in going to war after all to protect ourselves from such a dangerous and imminent national security threat as the mighty Iraq. Such an awesome power could not be allowed to carry on with it's own plans for world domination; a pre-emptive strike by our brave troops was the only chance we had to save ourselves. Left unchecked we would have all been wearing burcas and would only be allowed to leave the country through Sadamn Heathrow airport.
I shuddered when they launched the devastating long range missiles (the ones they hadn't been ordered to destroy) straight into the Gulf. I was terrified when when I thought they may try and attack one of the American bombers by un-leashing the one MIG they had in their airforce. Even without the Iraqi fighter jets I was astounded with just how effective our air force could be in the face of the advanced air-defense system they had to contend with. I just didn't think that twelve-year's of continuous bombing of air-defenses and communication infrastructure would be sufficient to make the skies safe.
I missed the great naval battle that took place, but I'm sure the Iraqi navy lived up to it's promise and went down taking a few US aircraft carriers with it. I was horrified when I was told by American Sec State Defense that Syria was equipping the Iraqi army with night vision goggles. I prayed that this accusation was untrue, or my worst fears would be realised, with some Iraqis being able to see in the dark!!! How could the forces of good triumph against such odds? And those deadly chemicals unleashed upon our warriors!! Sarin, Mustard Gas, Anthrax, SARS. I thought it would never end. Then we entered Baghdad and our columns of tanks and armor were brought to the edge of defeat by those kids and old men with machine guns. I thought of Star Wars and of Luke destroying the great death-star with a single shot. What if the designer of the tank had overlooked a similar weak point and the enemy was able to fire the machine gun in such a way as to blow up the tank!!!

This was why we went to was wasn't it? To protect ourselves from Iraq.

That was a great argument people were using comparing Iraq to 1930's Nazi Germany. To be fair, it would be an interesting contest to see the industrial super-power of 70 years ago pitted against Iraq after 12 years of sanctions, inspections and bombing. I guess my money would be on the Nazis though.

Who poses such a threat to world peace and security as to justify the next pre-emptive attack? Probably not North Korea – I think they have an airforce, and some missiles, and a large army (probably with night vision goggles).

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Tuesday, April 08, 2003

For those who believe there is a humanitarian motivation behind those persecuting this war, I would invite you to consider the humanitarian difference that could have been made should we have directed the same resources and enthusiasm we had for waging war against Iraq into something like: this or this. Face it, nobody in power in the West gives a f**k about Africans or Iraqis, and should you support this war on a humanitarian basis you are just giving legitimacy to their dirty, bullying crusades for power, influence and oil.

I am no better, I'm selfish as the masses - it's a prominent human trait, broken perhaps by some strong religious conviction. I care not enough for my fellow human beings to inconvenience myself to help them. How many of those weeping for some anonymous victims of the Iraqi regime will ignore homeless on the streets of their own town? What I really object to is the endless self-serving spin that tells me what I should care about, and what are the true atrocities in this world, and who are the true embodiments of evil. Why should anyone back sending young men and women off to slaughter other young men against the wishes of the world and the international institutions that have offered us some hope for peace over the last fifty years? Just because someone tells you that you should suddenly care for these people, the same someone that starved you of news of the same atrocious acts in the past because it served their interests to do so.

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Monday, April 07, 2003

It appears that SH's cousin 'Chemical Ali' has been executed. One of the news channels we received in Hong Kong mistakenly referred to 'him' as 'Chemical Sally', precipitating a whole day set against the background music: 'Mustang/Chemical Sally'

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Sunday, April 06, 2003

Something I have in common with a brainless English football hooligan. We both hate the Turks (If you know what's going on in Welsh rugby at the moment then you may have some sympathy for my view). My apologies to any person of Turkish nationality that you should have the misfortune to be associated by name with such a bunch of selfish, narrow minded, arrogant, inbreds.

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Met some lovely (white) Zimbabweans in the hotel bar after one of the rugby games. The war was on TV and soon in conversation. They seemed rather upset that the gift of 'liberation' by slaughter couldn't be bestowed upon their country. Presumably they could all afford take a few months holiday abroad and return when the yanks had reinstated Ian Smith. I suggested they forge some geological surveys showing large oil reserves under their farms and post them off to Donald Rumsfeld.
Some of their comments on the Iraq conflict included: "they should just get every white guy out of the middle east and nuke the place". "one thousand of those Arabs is not worth one of your British troops". "You have to stop these people, you won't believe what they are doing now! They are coming to Africa and building mosques!!!"
To be fair, a couple of them were capable of constructing a valid argument.

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Friday, April 04, 2003

Finished putting up most of the HK pics.. Stories to follow.

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Team parade. Wales team. View from high up. South stand which we avoided on the Sunday to watch some rugby instead. Me. Wales winning the "Plate" competition?. Don't be silly, we got knocked out in the quater finals by the Cook Islands.. This was Canada winning for the second year in a row. England won the Cup again, beating NZ in the final.

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Hong Kong Stadium quite early one morning A, B. South stand filling up, it was from here that we saw very little rugby but did get to meet Elvis. Wales facing stiff opposition from the great rugbying nation that is The Netherlands. We managed to find Anna, who was busy playing guitar. Standard size drink. Darren had a swimming bag with him, which contained, amongst other things, my digital camera and both our passports. Occasionally I'd turn through the mayhem of people dancing, drinking, singing, and notice this bag laying under some seats a few rows in front of us. I kept thinking to myself, "must remember to pick that bag up before we leave, I'm sure there's something important in it", before returning to dancing, drinking, singing etc. Somehow the bag turned up on the floor of the hotel room the next morning. Neither of us remember picking it up.. Other pics: A, B, C, D, E.

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Fire and clear skies A, B in Swansea.

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Skyline HK A,B,C,D.

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Dylan and I in our masks. We only actually wore them on the plane on the way home. They looked good with matching eye covers and headphones.

The best way to avoid contracting any nasty disease according to a poster at the rugby stadium was to:
Be fit and healthy
Avoid alcohol and smoking
Eat a balanced diet
Get sufficient sleep

This fitted in well with our:
rather bizarre sleeping patterns (8pm one night, 6am the next)
many jugs of Heineken, Pimms, vodka/redbull, wine
skipping food altogether for a whole day
lunch from KFC the next day which was certainly the most disgustingly greasy inedible food I’d ever purchased (I still feel sick thinking about it)

We also attempted to reduce the chance of infection by visiting very crowded bars of partying revelers who would sing, dance and scream at the top of their voices; no doubt covering dozens of their fellow partygoers with deadly phlegm.

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Couple of pictures from skiing last month A, B

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transcript of The Suicide Journalist

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Thursday, April 03, 2003

Amongst the mainly surgical style masks I spotted: one full-on gas mask, the beginnings of the designer mask phase (logos and pictures), and most encouragingly, the definite start of an Altern-8 revival. Ok, nobody was wearing the full hooded chemical suits, or had even got around to writing the "A" on the front of the mask, but that's just a matter of time. Full on mask hysteria!

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Back from Hong Kong, hopefully without SARS.
Had spent seven days in a city full of surgical masks, became totally accustomed to being served food and drinks by masked waitresses, and driven around by masked taxi drivers. Bold headlines in the daily English language newspaper talked not of the slaughter in Iraq but of quarantine and outbreaks. There was always the feeling in the back of your mind that an involuntary cough or sneeze would cause people to turn and flee.
We landed in Heathrow this morning after cutting our trip short by three days. Darren’s phone powered on and located it’s home network, then downloaded the text messages that had queued up during the duration of the flight. The first message was from his mate: "I heard you were out in Hong Kong, did you hear about the flu over there?"

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