August 27, 2009

Horse 1032 - The Daily Telegraph Does Not Do Research (part 2),27574,25987866-421,00.html
PREMIER Nathan Rees has broken his holiday silence to declare in five simple words that he won't be going anywhere, any time soon.
The embattled leader, who is on leave with his wife Stacey, said last night he had no plans to resign, The Daily Telegraph reports. "I have no such intention," a defiant Mr Rees said.
Mr Rees interrupted his holiday in New South Wales to issue a statement that he had absolutely no intention of resigning.

Well done News Corporation, well done indeed. Firstly you have the gall to accuse the Premier of being uncontactable and his whereabouts as being unknown, and then you get told off by him because your research department can't be bothered to get off of its duff and actually chase the news.
This morning Mark Colvin from the ABC's AM program on 702 Sydney, was told by Nathan Rees himself that the rumours of a Labor leadership challenge in NSW were "a complete load of bullcrap". He was probably motivated to set the record straight after his face pretty well much taking up most of the front page on yesterday's Daily Telegraph.

Unfortunately what they've failed to realise is that Nathan Rees as Premier has a fairly safe position precisely because the NSW Labor Party is so fractious.
Rees is effectively the leader of the Labor Left, while Health Minister John Della Bosca is the champion of the Labor Right; the Sussex St administration is headed by Joe Tripodi which means that the top position is supported by a tripod of mutually suspicious parties. No serious contender could hope to take the top job because they'll almost certainly never secure the numbers in the caucus.
Basically Bob Carr was a strong enough leader to keep the simmering forces from chopping each other. Iemma lost his job because of them, and Rees is there because of reasons stated above.

It is a sad state of affairs when I appear to be the most reliable news source in the country. Even worse when a daily newspaper with a circulation of over a million a day, tries to orchestrate the news because of its own commercial interests to sell newspapers.
Perhaps it is understandable to a degree. Both the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald have both within the two months, had a new editor-in-chief take over both newspapers. Maybe they're both trying to make a name for themselves and certainly putting someone's head on the chopping block would be a way to gain glory and fame.

Then again, maybe I'm secretly hankering for a newspaper job myself... nah, not really. Though if someone did offer, I'd probably take the job. Hint hint hint.

August 26, 2009

Horse 1031 - The Daily Telegraph Does Not Do Research (again).
NATHAN Rees' own staff yesterday made the stunning admission they don't know where he is, as a key Labor powerboker told the embattled Premier his leadership is over. The Daily Telegraph can reveal Labor kingmaker Eddie Obeid met with Mr Rees and told him he should consider resigning.
Mr Rees has not surfaced since taking a week-long holiday on Saturday. Bizarrely, the official line from Mr Rees' office yesterday was: "I don't know where he is." Mr Rees' office said: "I understand he is going away with his wife Stacey within the state, and is spending some time at home."

This is the utter zenith of quality reporting from The Daily Telegraph is it not? I have some fundamental issues with this running on the front page of the newspaper.

Firstly. The man is on holiday (Perhaps you should actually listen to what people tell you, News Corporation. Is that really too hard?) . He probably doesn't want to be contacted and certainly not by the likes of News Corporation, who when they'd find him would probably harass the heck out of him and then publish some ill-researched smear campaign anyway. In terms of journalistic prowess and ethics, the Telegraph ranks a close second behind people like Robert Mugabe, and this surely isn't helping their cause. Me thinks that maybe this was a slow newsday; what better way to shift newspapers than dragging a politician's name through the gutter?

Secondly, if The Daily Telegraph had actually bothered to do even the most basic of research, they would have seen two cars in Mr Rees' driveway, like I did this morning. I pass by his house on most days of the week, and I can tell you that he had a 98% chance of being at home and dare I say it at circa 06:33am was probably still in bed asleep or else starting his morning. The MP for Toongabbie lives in Wentworthville, though that's obviously too far for the people at News Corp to drive.

I say good on Mr Rees for going about his business without the likes snot-nosed guttersnipes finding him. Look News Corporation, if you can't be bothered to do the research, then to be honest, you don't have the right to be morally indignant about it.

This Roy Morgan Research paper is worth a read if you have the time. It more or less agrees with the low opinions that Australians have with their media.

August 25, 2009

Horse 1030 - Jumping Jack Flash...

... it's a Gas!,28124,25950461-5005200,00.html

Now that the "Global Financial Crisis" is apparently over, and you've got back to bickering over why we shouldn't be building new rail projects because they are to expensive, perhaps someone would like to explain to me why this $50bn deal to sell natural gas to China was ever allowed to go ahead?

The way I understand the Gorgon Project, the breakup of the interested partied is thus:
50% - Chevron Australia (a subsidiary of Chevron) (50%)
25% - Shell Development Australia (a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell) (25%)
25% - Mobil Australia Resources (a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil) (25%)

None of these companies is Australian. This means that the actual resources flow out of the country and $300bn in sales, which equates to $235bn in profits also flows out of Australia.

I understand perfectly that without private investment, projects like this would not occur but perhaps someone could explain to me why an Australian company couldn't do it? Do we simply not possess the skill? Are Australians that stupid?
Even I can work out that the $300bn in sales would have "stimulated" the Australian economy more than the $40bn which is expected to be taken in taxation. Maybe we are that stupid.

While I think about it, considering that the price of crude oil is probably going to skyrocket over the next 10 years, then why didn't the Australian Government just decree that cars on Australian roads progressively switch over to natural gas? That way irrespective of what the price of crude was, we'd always have our own readily available supply but no - that will never happen now. Now that's stupid, simply stupid.

Once again, international business yet again has sold Australia very short indeed, and yet even though we have hostile relations with China, the utility of the scheme is enough for the whole thing to be rubber stamped.

Hello world, welcome to Australia. A land so incredibly stupid, that we rejoice when people steal from us.

August 24, 2009

Horse 1029 - Dancing on Injustice? Eh? What?

In church last night I was asked by Roj for the words to a song called "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble" which we'd sung during the service. To be honest I think that he was as puzzled by one of the lines as I was.

To put this in perspective, this particular song as I've found out came off a disc called Cutting Edge by a band called The Cutting Edge Band, aka "delirious?". The question mark is apparently part of their name.

The chorus from "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble" is well... odd.

Open up the doors and
Let the music play
Let the streets resound with singing
Songs that bring Your hope
Songs that bring Your joy
Dancers who dance upon injustice

The 4th and 5th lines are grammatically correct but syntactically strange (that by itself could warrant its own blog post), the last line in particular caused a wee bit of discussion.

Dancers who dance upon injustice

What does this mean? What is it supposed to mean? Is this supposed to be celebrating triumph over injustice? Is it like dancing on the embers of a funeral pyre? Equally the line could be read that whoever the dancers are, celebrating the injustice itself. Is dancing over injustice going to solve anything anyway?

Do we for instance send paratroop divisions of Morris Dancers into Tehran to solve the lack of democracy? Was that guy in front of the tank and were those hundreds of students in Tienanmen Square in 1989 about to engage in the biggest Ballroom program the world has ever seen? Can we line-dance into Darfur and Chad?

Whilst I fully endorse the need to do things about the injustices that go on in the world, the metaphor being employed here is entirely vague. If a congregation is singing something and they're somewhat confused by it, is that at all useful? Or am I merely dancing upon pedantism, whatever that means.

August 20, 2009

Horse 1028 - Fees and Charges Apply

The following excerpt is from a letter that we received in the mail from Telstra:
This letter is to let you know that on and from 14 September 2009 there will be some changes to our bill payment fees.
We offer a range of ways to pay your bill. Some of these options incur higher administration costs for Telstra so we're introducing the below fees for their use:

a) A new $2.20 payment administration fee will apply for each bill payment sent through the mail or made in person at a Telstra Shop or Australia Post. This fee also applies to bill payments made using Electronic Funds Transfer. Electronic bill payment options which will not incur this fee are highlighted below.

Let me get this straight by me paying a bill, Telstra is going to charge me a fee for the "privilege" of paying my bill. This is essentially a penalty for keeping within the boundaries of the contract. Has anyone else in the world come up with such a blatant rip off?

An "administration fee"? Come on, seriously. If we pay via the net, surely it is us doing the administration for you. Or if we pay at the post office, then it's the Post Office who does the administration, not Telstra. Besides which, isn't administration one of the implied overheads of any business?
And if the "administration fee" is as a result of the mess left behind by that farty trumped-up little smeghead Sol Trujillo, then why are we the customer forced to pay the bill? Wasn't it his fine management which saw the share price (and ergo people's investment in the company) fall from $5.68 to $3.08 under his tenure? How come Telstra don't make him pay the "administration fee".

And since we're on the subject of fees grounded in the most tenuous, and shallow ground of justification, where do the Commonwealth Bank, the National Australia Bank (of whom it seems strangely appropriate that they should have on their documentation "nab"), Westpac and the ANZ get off in charging so called "account service fees"? Just what is the service they provide?
Firstly they take our money on deposit and then invest it which means that they already make money from our money. Secondly the interest they pay back is covered ten-thousand fold by the interest they charge on mortgages and lending. Thirdly, with them closing branches and in effect forcing us to do "internet banking" doesn't that mean that we're actually servicing our accounts ourselves?

But the fee that really got my feckles, hackles, schmeckles up and tingling were two fees which we got from a legal firm. They owed us a fair amount of money for the work we had done from them, and they charged us a "postage fee" and a "late payment fee". They charged us for them handling our demans to be paid and them being late in paying us. Not surprisingly, I took this directly to the principal of the law firm and refused to pay them, and also consequently refused to ever do any work for them again... except now they have a court order, ordering us to do work for them in the case.

I think I should start mailing out my own fees and charges for frivolous things, like waiting time in the post office queue, charging fees to companies like Harvey Norman for putting annoying adverts on the telly, and a congestion charge for those people who crowd out the doors on train carriages.

August 19, 2009

Horse 1027 - Very Petty Larceny

Welcome to Adelaide, City of churches, and where life is so inexorably dull that the top news story has been...

CUCUMBER THEFT!,,25918893-1246,00.html
A spate of cucumber thefts has Adelaide police in a pickle. More than $10,000 worth of cucumbers have been stolen in 11 separate robberies in the past three months.
Thieves have targeted market gardens north of Adelaide, with police saying the latest robbery - of 50 bags of cucumbers - was reported from a glasshouse at Virginia at the weekend.,22606,25886628-5006301,00.html
Theives have stolen 34 buckets of cucumbers from a northern suburbs grower. The theft happened at a Buckland Park property sometime on Sunday night or Monday morning.
The victim picked 34 buckets of cucumbers on Sunday, to be collected for market on Monday, but thieves stole the entire lot.
Police say a grower could be responsible for the theft of more than $10,000 worth of cucumbers in Adelaide's north. There have been 12 separate cucumber robberies during the past three months, the most recent involving 150 bags on Tuesday night.

I imagine that the police are really confused by this. The question isn't why someone would want to steal cucumbers, (because according to the Bureau of Meteorology, South Australia is suffering from drought) but how you track down said cucumbers.

The obvious lame puns abound in the Advertiser such as the above "cucumber thefts has Adelaide police in a pickle" but I note that not even a News Corporation newspaper have stooped to using the phrase "over a barrel" with the memories of Snowtown still looming in the memory of South Australians.

These cucumber thefts reminded me of a raid on an olive grove in May last year:,23599,23733873-2,00.html
Busy thieves have stripped an entire olive grove of its fruit in an overnight raid, the latest of a series of such bizarre thefts.
Quentin Von Essen, who runs an olive grove in Lovedale, in NSW's Hunter Valley, was alarmed to find that all but two of his 400 trees had been stripped of their olives earlier this month.
Mr Von Essen said he was dumbfounded how it could have happened without anyone noticing. "It would take approximately six people up to three days to pick our olive grove," he said.

Have we as a nation progressed at all... ever? Some convicts, ne'er do wells, ruffians, rapscallions, that arrived to these shores on the First Fleet on that day in 1788 were sent out here because of petty larceny, thievery, and pickpocketness. It makes me wonder in the 21st Century in a supposedly more enlightened time whether or not we actually have made any progess as a nation... if we're stealing cucumbers and olives I would suggest not.

August 18, 2009

Horse 1026 - Do they really want your "Loyalty"?

Franklins, Woolworths and Coles currently all have so called "loyalty" programs designed to retain business and in theory keep you playing the Jewish Piano in their stores.

The following comes from Franklins' own website:
- Present your Loyalty Club card when you shop at Franklins and you earn one point for every dollar you spend.
- When you reach 2000 points, you can redeem them for payment for your grocery purchases or for Franklins Vouchers.

To put this in perspective, to 2000 points gets you $20 of stuff. To get 2000 points you needed to have spent $2000. This means that effectively the rate of return is 1% of everything you've spent. If you do a weekly shop, this means 1 week in every two years is returned to you.

What happens if you choose to shop around and actually bother to look for better deals when you go shopping? Doesn't this mean by inference that you'll either spend less or worse, because you'd have spent at more places than just Franklins, that the once in two years blows out even further?

What about those small time shoppers like myself who only buy a few items during the week? Some of the things I buy don't even register a single point through the tills. Did Franklins raise their prices by 1% to cover this marvellous service? Would consumers even notice if they had done?

I don't mean to single out Franklins, but Choice magazine in one issue had worked out they Franklins had the best loyalty program. If that's the best, then that means that Woolworths' Everyday Rewards and Coles' tie-in with FlyBuys must be crudtacular.

If the supermarket giants really wanted you to "save money" they'd simply lower their prices wouldn't they? Perhaps it's just easier to take Franklins' own advice "It's cheaper through the tills, when you shop No Frills". Yeah... that's what I think of your loyalty programs.

August 14, 2009

Horse 1025 - Kia Builds a Car... For Real!

I am not a motoring journalist (though if anyone wants to offer me a job as one then I'll gladly take it) and as such I haven't really driven an extremely wide range of cars. To clarify this, I have driven almost no sports cars at all. What I've driven tend to be small commuter-boxes and family hacks, and most of them are pretty similar. So when I find something I'm impressed with, it must be pretty good.

Take note people, the next sentence is either going to sound blasphemous or illogical to you, so be prepared.

The Kia Magentis is excellent.

WHAT? Let me repeat that - The Kia Magentis is excellent.


To be perfectly honest, I'd looked at Kia through prejudiced eyes. The Mazda 121, which was built by Kia and then sold as a Kia Pride in England was rubbish. The second generation which was not even sold by Mazda (because even they realised it was rubbish) was sold in Australia as the Ford Festiva... which was rubbish. The 1st Generation Kia Rio (DC)... was also rubbish. The 2nd Gen Kia Rio (DE) is not rubbish, but it is boring. How then does the Magentis make the leap from not being rubbish, to beyond boring and into excellent?

The Magentis is styled ultra-conservatively; I guess that Kia don't want people turned away by its looks. If you look behind the bland exterior the car begins to shine when you turn the key.

Firstly it has a list of features which makes even a Mercedes-Benz E-Class look tame.
- Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)
- Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
- Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
- Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
- Traction Control
- Dual Front Airbags
- Side Airbags and Curtain Airbags
- Variable Valve Timing (CVVT)
- Variable Intake System (VIS)
That in itself looks like an impressive list of kit, which makes me think that Kia have gone all out with this car. The Magentis puts out 119kW from a 2.4L in-line four. The car isn't "kick-you-in-the-pants" quick but it does have an adequate amount of perk and would probably very easily sit on 110 clicks all day if you let it.
I'd say that the Magentis probably has its gun sights aimed squarely at the Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and the Holden Astra... except that Holden have replaced the Astra with the Cruze (which is decidedly rubbish compared with the Astra H it replaced)

The Astra G & H (the Prawn had an Astra G) had an almost lazy directness about it, i.e. the car tracked in the direction you pointed it. The Magentis feels far stiffer, and even more direct than the Astra if that's possible. I didn't stress the car too hard but it has even less body roll than a Honda Integra and when it exits corners, it again points true.

The gearbox (I drove a manual) had nice short throws in it, and unlike the Corolla who's clutch has no feeling whatsoever, the Magentis is light enough to be smooth, but must have tensioners or something to let you know precisely where the "bite" points are.

Ergonomically everything comes to hand well, though I was again disappointed like so many other cars, with the incredible sea of grey plastic for the dashboard.
I found the textures on the knobs interesting, but across the rest of the dashboard there wasn't anything outlandish or even really all that different from any other car.

Just like B's Hyundai Accent (LC) was the first car that Hyundai built "properly", the 2009 Kia Magentis (MG) has benefitted from tweaks in the Hyundai powerplant and chassis updates. This is the car that says that Kia has finally made it to par, well it hasn't just scraped over, it's done everything asked of it well. The car might not yell "Look at Me!" but that's a good thing, because it means that you can leave it in a carpark and know that it will still be there when you get back. Not every car needs to have a GT badge stamped on it.

This is Kia's first "proper" car. Kia say in their adverts that they have "the power to surprise" but it's not really a surprise if you've been waiting 20 years. Doing things well is sometimes more important.

August 13, 2009

Horse 1024 - GST is Hateful

I shuddered when I heard rumours in the newsagent's this morning that if this Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme takes off, then it would mean imposing a higher rate of GST. Admittedly it's only a rumour and the only article I could find on the piece was this offering from Brisbane's Courier-Mail, which being a News Corporation publication is as reliable as trying to predict the results of horse races based on the contents of your handkerchief.,23739,25912087-3122,00.html
KEVIN Rudd wants to effectively increase the GST by a quarter to 12.5 per cent. That's in year one - after that it could go to 15 per cent and even higher, completely outside any control by the Parliament.

The reality is, the awful truth is thus and facts are that...

The GST is a regressive tax.

Regressive? A regressive tax is a tax imposed in such a manner that the relative tax rate decreases as income increases. In simple terms, a regressive tax imposes a greater burden on poor people than on the rich.

Assume for me if you will that we have 4 people, all earning Ÿ30,000, Ÿ40,000, Ÿ60,000 & Ÿ100,000.

If a weekly budget includes Ÿ250 in rent, Ÿ50 in petrol, Ÿ30 in electric bills, Ÿ10 in water bills, Ÿ10 in services rates and Ÿ100 in groceries then all up that would be Ÿ450/week or Ÿ23,400 a year. At a 10% GST that works out to be Ÿ2340 in tax.

But we'd also have to assume that as people's income increases, then obviously they can spend more right? Well almost, but not quite. For as people's income does go up, although they might buy nicer things, their absolute capability of buying stuff stops at some point. No-one for instance can fill the car with petrol anymore than full. No-one can buy more groceries than they can fit in their house.

So instead of Ÿ23,400 being spent for each of our four consumers, they might in fact be only able to spend Ÿ23,400, Ÿ24,440, Ÿ24,960, Ÿ26,000 and therefore pay Ÿ2340, Ÿ2440, Ÿ2496 and Ÿ2600 in GST respectively. Or if you will...

Ÿ30,000 = tax Ÿ2340 = 7.8%
Ÿ40,000 = tax Ÿ2440 = 6.1%
Ÿ60,000 = tax Ÿ2496 = 4.1%
Ÿ100,000 = tax Ÿ2600 = 2.6%

Obviously I'm making assumptions all over the place here but as an illustration it works well enough.

The question is "Is this equitable?" "Is it fair?". Quite frankly, I don't think that it is. Especially considering that in the majority of cases, people's wages are not determined by them; in fact the poorer a person is, the less power that they have to determine their wage. The inverse of this is also true, in that if you give poorer people extra cash in the form of a stimulus payment, the more likely they are to spend it, simply because they need to survive.

In essence, to increase the GST from 10% to 12.5% as possibly suggested means that the tax becomes more regressive and therefore falls even harder on poor people:

@10% GST

Ÿ30,000 = tax Ÿ2340 = 7.8%
Ÿ40,000 = tax Ÿ2440 = 6.1%
Ÿ60,000 = tax Ÿ2496 = 4.1%
Ÿ100,000 = tax Ÿ2600 = 2.6%

@12.5% GST

Ÿ30,000 = tax Ÿ2925 = 9.75%
Ÿ40,000 = tax Ÿ3055 = 7.63%
Ÿ60,000 = tax Ÿ3120 = 5.20%
Ÿ100,000 = tax Ÿ3250 = 3.25%

The burden is still three times harder on poor people than on the rich at a rate of 12.5% than at 10% but what this doesn't tell you is that the total amount of money that they have at the end of the year is even tighter than it was before. It decreases from Ÿ4260 to only Ÿ3675, and the poorer you are the more hurtful that is.

I'm still convinced that the GST in principle is a hateful hateful tax, but fiddling with it to hurt poor people harder from a political party which was elected on rhetoric of "Working Families", "Working Families" & "Working Families" is nothing short of scandal.


August 12, 2009

Horse 1023 - Twelve Men Good and True

Thomas Randolph in his poem The muses looking-glasse; and Amyntas circa 1635 wrote:
"I had rather... haue his twelve Godvathers, good men and true, contemne him to the Gallowes."

The twelve Godfathers, good men and true is referring to none other than that of a jury; a panel of twelve people selected from society to judge the fate and evidence placed before them, of some other member of society accused of some serious crime.

Legend has it that the first ever jury, was formed in the city of Chester in north-west England in 946AD, though one must wonder at both the validity of the story and of the sense of it.

The wife of the Governor of Hawarden (a village 5 miles west of Chester and who's most famous son was PM William Gladstone), was praying in the local church for a break in a drought which was causing crops to fail, resulting in famine. Apparantly, a thunderstorm broke out and a statue of the Virgin Mary fell on top of her, killing her instantly.

A court was called and twelve good men and true, found the statue guilty of murder and condemned the statue to be hanged.
Because it was a statue of the Virgin Mary it was then decided that God should decide its fate, so the statue was thrown into the River Dee until it was "drowned".

The people of Chester, some 5 miles down the River Dee who found the statue and pronounced it quite dead, then buried the statue. It is belived to have been buried under what is now called the Roodee, or the stump of presumably what once was a sandstone cross marking its grave.

Now I don't know about the sense about finding a statue guilty of murder, but it does show that even in the dark ages people were thinking about more equitable ways of deciding the results of court proceedings. If twelve men good and true decide something, then the chances are that it must be equitable, albeit incredibly silly.

August 07, 2009

Horse 1022 - "The Bomb" was Unjustified

The 6th of August and the 9th of August are the anniversaries of what I think are possibly the most reprehensible atrocities of war ever committed, the dropping of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I think that this was an abhorrent waste of life, and to think that people actually justify it makes me really angry.

This is why:

26 Jul 1945
The Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender or the Potsdam Declaration was issued by US President Harry S Truman, UK PM Winston Churchill¹, and President of the Republic of China² Chiang Kai-shek.
The Ultimatum delivered to Japan stated that it would face "prompt and utter destruction" but no mention of the bomb was made.

30 Jul 1945
Japan initially rejected the terms of surrender but wanted to have it modified so that the Japanese Government would still retain the Emperor. Japan requested two weeks leave to discuss the terms of surrender; this was granted. This would have meant that a Japanese surrender would have been submitted on the 13th of August.

2 Aug 1945
Emperor Hirohito flies to Vladivostok for a conference with Stalin. At this point we either have to concede that Hirohito was either looking for an ally for negotiations with Potsdam, or perhaps to for Japan to become a Soviet Protectorate. I guess we'll never know.

3 Aug 1945
The US Air Force destroys Vladivostok's air strip and port facilities citing that intelligence had detailed "important activity in that area". It has never been stated by US official just what that "important activity" was, but it effectively locked Hirohito in Soviet territory.

5 Aug 1945
After considerable debating, the Japanese War cabinet was deadlocked 6-6 on whether or not to accept the terms of surrender. Because the casting vote was that of Hirohito himself, the Japanese PM Kantaro Suzuki issued a statement of "Mokusatsu" with regards the instrument of surrender.

This is where it gets interesting. What does "Mokusatsu" mean? Mokusatsu literally means two concepts: "silence" (moku), and "kill" (satsu). This can be taken in a multitude of ways. Either it's as aloof as "no comment" in English or it can just mean to let a subject die. Considering that the Japanese War cabinet thought that they still had 8 days to come up with an answer and that Hirohito himself could not cast the deadlock breaking vote, Mokusatsu from a Japanese perspective is perfectly reasonable, but to the Allies it was seen as hostile.

6 Aug 1945
The city of Hiroshima is devastated by the dropping of a nuclear bomb and 140,000 people were instantly killed. After the Hiroshima bombing, President Truman announced, "If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the likes of which has never been seen on this earth."

9 Aug 1945
The city of Nagasaki is also like Hiroshima, levelled by a nuclear bomb strike. 90,000 people were killed instantly.

10 Aug 1945
Major General Leslie Groves, the director of the Manhattan Project, sent a memorandum to General of the Army George Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, in which he wrote that "the next bomb should be ready for delivery on the first suitable weather after 17 or August 18."

12 Aug 1945
Hirohito surrenders with the following address:
"Moreover, the enemy now possesses a new and terrible weapon with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers."

The truth is I have no idea whether or not Hirohito intended to surrender or negotiate a close to the war by the 13th of August. Whatever the case, the fact remains that he was never allowed to, by virtue of the fact that either because of something as shabby as mistranslation or deliberate pigheadedness³ on the part of Truman and his War Council, the destruction of 230,000 innocent people happened at an order; I think needlessly.

For all the bickering that goes on behind world leaders desks, people often forget that it's servicemen and civilians who actually bear the brunt of warfare. A Japanese person sitting at home minding their own business is no more or less valuable than an American, a Briton, a Ghanaian, a Bolivian or whoever else you'd like to nominate.
I don't care if they are the enemy, the fact remains that most enemies if given the chance would prefer to be left alone with the morning's newspaper and a cup of coffee than be sent off to fight for their country; especially if they didn't really need to.

Since this is the anniversary of the destruction of so many lives, I would like to nominate someone in counterpoint. Neville Chamberlain more or less knew that war with Germany was inevitable but that he delayed it for two and a half years, saving unknown countless lives. Although he is seen as a weak leader for not engaging Hitler, I think that he was well aware that it wasn't going to be him personally that was doing the fighting, but other people's sons, brothers, daddies and mates.

Now justify it for me.

¹Churchill resigned as PM on 27th Jul 1945
²The People's Republic (Communist) didn't start until 1949
³"pigheadedness" appears to be an actual word that the spell checker recognises

August 06, 2009

Justify This!

Eisenhower wrote in his memoir The White House Years:
In 1945 Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act? During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment, was I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.

MacArthur wrote in tabulations to a US Senate Committee:
Use of the atomic devices was completely unnecessary from a military point of view. We at that point had no intention to invade Japan, the threat of Russia entering the war with Japan on August 11 would have seen them accept the terms of Potsdam by well before September 1 and certainly Operation Starvation would have seen total surrender before October 1.