11th October 2006
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
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
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"?)
EUROPEAN MATTERS -
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
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.
OF THE FUTURE? -
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 build a
around a moat containing piranha, put automated gun emplacements
and guards on the wall, and cram the miscreants in. Provide a
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.
The publicly accessible CCTV would mitigate
the abuses that apparently occurred at Pavon.
- It undoubtedly makes it cheaper to run a prison.
- 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.
- If life inside is seen to be grim, it might provide a
many would be criminals.
- Being on the receiving end of crime, it might
serve to rehabilitate criminals by making them sympathetic to the
- When it becomes necessary to remove recalcitrants
permanently from our culture, it would provide a more humane solution
- There exists a challenge for the inmates to evolve a liberal
sub-culture in which criminals can function. Our own culture
- DPRK -
Otherwise known as North
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
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
have nuclear weapons. The CIA world factbook also suggests that
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.
frames which are probably melted down for their mineral content).
The predominant exports are suspected to be illicit drugs, weapons and
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
democracy on their land border. They may well prefer an amenable,
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.
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
the politicians in the South might well view absorption of N.Korea with
In 1505 AD, Nicolo Machiavelli wrote a pamphlet on
to do with the acquisition and management of principalities
(states). In Chapter four he defined two types of
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
of government, viz. a
principality that is governed by a body of servants, appointed at the
prince's favor and
Machiavelli remarks that states of the second type are easy to
conquer because dissidents can always be found within, but
govern because the people are accustomed to a degree of self
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
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
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.