11th October 2006
What is "objective analysis"?



Never let it be said that John Howard is a good loser.  He had a deal with Trujillo to facilitate the sale of the government's 50+% of the corporation, (no doubt in writing, even if secret) and of course a fair bit of "good faith" codicils would have been understood.  However he had to take a parting shot, which was to saddle Telstra with a board member who would make the board dysfunctional.

Of course the legal position is that he can appoint a new director, because the government controls over 50% of the votes.  But the government intends to sell or place in escrow all of those 50+% of shares, so what moral right has he to appoint a board member?  Certainly not to look after the government's interests (which, not to belabor the point, will cease when that divestiture is completed, in a few months).

It is just an act of revenge, and perhaps a reward to a faithful minion for his years of hard work advancing the Howard cause as an adviser.

So Sol has responded with a broadside that has brought the share price crashing further.

John, why can't you just let well enough be.  What you should be doing for Australia is creating a division within the ACCC (but directly answerable to government, not Samuel) with a CEO who really understands the telecommunications business.  That way we might get broadband before 2020.

And I suggest you forget about appointing whatsizname to the board.  I suspect that one might have implications for the next election. (e.g. "jobs for the boys"?)


I note that English academics have again brought out a list of the world's top universities.  Why am I not surprised that Oxford & Cambridge are in the top three?  (behind Harvard).  I am  surprised that ANU and Melbourne were listed in the top 25, above Sydney & UNSW.

As for that Icon of European co-operation, (Airbus) it does seem to be emblematic of the culture of Europe.  Airbus is nearly two years behind schedule, and they have just changed CEO, which pundits are claiming will cause further delays.

Meanwhile the Russians are murdering journalists, (the unwritten suspicion is that the state either organizes or condones the murders) and following the capitalist path by exploiting their energy resources.   Somebody should explain to the Russians that by murdering journalists they focus attention on the corruption that those journalists were reporting.  They should instead be encouraging more journalists to write about other corruption, (as in USA, UK, Oz etc...) which brings about a level of cynicism and fatigue in the public, who cannot decide which corruptions should be first addressed.  Then the government should appoint a prosecutor, who will have the intelligence to choose the most innocuous items to prosecute (for reasons of "good case" etc).  The public excitement about that prosecution will diminish public interest in more sensitive areas of corruption, which may eventually diminish in importance as time passes.

13th October 2006


In the last few days a Moslem doctor living in Queensland murdered his wife.  The daily papers report that there was an argument about their teenage daughter who had converted to Christianity.  The reason for the argument was stated to be a passage in the Koran that commands that those who abandon the Muslim religion must be killed.  A cleric on the Islamic council has been reported as stating that those words in the Koran are not interpreted that way any longer.

I have read that the Arabic word "Koran" is equivalent to the English word "recitals".
  It is so named because the prophet Mahommed would speak with God, and as soon as was convenient he would recite the words that God had said to him, and his disciples would transcribe those words .  This body of writings became known as "The Koran".  It is believed to be the word of God.

After Mahommed ascended to Heaven, his followers wrote down his actions, in much the same way as Jesus' disciples wrote down the actions and words of Jesus in the books now known as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  This body of Islamic writing is known as the Sunnah. The Sunnah is considered to be less authoritative than the Koran, and since it was disciples interpreting the actions of a prophet, the words are open to reinterpretation.

However the Koran is the word of God, and God's word is neither mistaken, misspoken nor open to reinterpretation.

So when it says in the Koran that those who abandon the Muslim religion must be killed, that is the word of God.  There is no reinterpretation possible, no "Modern interpretation" can be adduced.  This is not the Sunnah or the New Testament where misinterpretations, motives and human fallacies can be argued.

There are authoritative reports from all over the world of murders by Moslems of people who converted out of Islam.  One particular hotspot is Morocco.


I notice that Baghdad Burning has not posted now for over two months.  I do hope that she is OK. 


The Pavon prison of Guatemala was recently in the news as a prison managed for the last ten years by the inmates.  Apparently the authorities were alerted by the local press that the prison was a center for the manufacture & distribution of illicit drugs.

Your diarist suggests that the idea was sound, although in this instance the practice went astray.  By definition, criminals are people who have rejected the rules of the cultural infrastructure by which we all live.  They should be given the opportunity to develop an alternative sub culture.  Perhaps b
uild a wall around a moat containing piranha, put automated gun emplacements and guards on the wall, and cram the miscreants in.  Provide a weekly delivery of a few bags of rice at the front gate.  Load up the place with CCTV cameras.  Provide no policing except against murder or maiming.  If the sub culture wishes to establish commercial links with the outside world, that is permitted.  I see the following benefits to society.
  1. It undoubtedly makes it cheaper to run a prison.
  2. I would imagine that the public would pay to watch that CCTV of that sub-culture in operation.  In the first instance, such payments would provide the basic running costs of the prison.
  3. If life inside is seen to be grim, it might provide a disincentive to many would be criminals.
  4. Being on the receiving end of crime, it might serve to rehabilitate criminals by making them sympathetic to the victim.
  5. When it becomes necessary to remove recalcitrants permanently from our culture, it would provide a more humane solution than execution.
  6. There exists a challenge for the inmates to evolve a liberal sub-culture in which criminals can function.  Our own culture might benefit.
The publicly accessible CCTV would mitigate the abuses that apparently occurred at Pavon.

- DPRK -

Otherwise known as North Korea.

Let me outline some of the known and suspected facts.  Kim Jong Il took over the position of President from his father in 1994.  In Korea he is known as the "Dear Leader".  He is surrounded with a retinue of nubile pleasure girls, and all of the decadent luxuries that are available from anywhere in the world.  North Korea has around 23 million people, and in a famine shortly after he took power it is reported that around three million people starved to death.  (To make that real - think of six friends.  If we suffered a similar death rate, one of you would have died of starvation).  DPRK has a standing army of about one million.  It has land borders with China, Russia and South Korea.  Kim has developed or copied technology that permits DPRK to manufacture IRBMs (Intermediate range Ballistic Missiles, range about 5000 Km) and claims to have nuclear weapons.  The CIA world factbook also suggests that he might have CBW capability.  The only caveat to his power seems to be that his army might be losing efficiency.

DPRK has been sponsored politically since it's formation by the Chinese and Russians, who have been staunch supporters.  The South Koreans provide food and other humanitarian aid.  The Japanese trade in some consumer goods (e.g. bicycle frames which are probably melted down for their mineral content).  The predominant exports are suspected to be illicit drugs, weapons and slush (counterfeit money).

The USA & Japan would like to blockade North Korea, and see the regime toppled.  China and Russia, despite the difficulties they have with DPRK, do not concur, and neither it seems does S.Korea.   China and Russia probably believe that should DPRK became a failed state, then it would be absorbed into S Korea.  It is possible that they would not feel comfortable having a highly successful representative democracy on their land border. They may well prefer an amenable, ravaged buffer state.  S.Korea has fraternal connections with the people of N Korea, and presumably does not want to exacerbate any situation which might result in a repeat scenario of the 1997-2000 famine.  It should also be pointed out that in a situation having some
parallels, the West German economy suffered a severe financial shock when it absorbed East Germany, and with that example in mind the politicians in the South might well view absorption of N.Korea with trepidation.

In 1505 AD, Nicolo Machiavelli wrote a pamphlet on matters to do with the acquisition and management of principalities (states).  In Chapter four he defined
two types of government:

the principalities of which one has record are found to be governed in two different ways: either by a prince, with a body of servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his favor and permission; or by a prince and barons, who hold that dignity by antiquity of blood and not by the grace of the prince.

The second type of government is most common in the 21st century.  Elected representatives have supplanted Machiavelli's barons in the representative democracies, and tribal leaders are what we call the barons of Muslim states.

I suspect that the DPRK is one of the few examples outside of Africa of the the first type of government, viz. a principality that is governed by a body of servants, appointed at the prince's
favor and permission.

Machiavelli remarks that states of the second type are easy to conquer because dissidents can always be found within, but difficult to govern because the people are accustomed to a degree of self government.  States of the first type (The Persian empire conquered by Alexander is an example) are difficult to conquer, but easy to govern once the ruling prince's family is contained.

China could easily replace Kim.  Simply march an army in, take Kim prisoner, and start ruling.  The political prognosis is the problem.

My suggested solution would be that the four interested parties (SK, Russia, China, Japan) should, with UN approval, get together and decide what to do.  The USA should be invited because it has a legitimate interest in the outcome because it is guarantor for Japan & SK.

I would expect them to decide on a joint invasion.  I would suspect them to agree to some sort of trinational administration by Russia, China & S.Korea with Japan & US having some sort of veto on any proposed evolutionary changes.

Or does somebody really want to see terrorists with nuclear weapons?  Limited terrorism serves to bolster the state.  Too much of a good thing is poison.