Archive for January, 2012

Twisted Honour

A Canadian judge called the ‘honour’ killing of three girls and their mother a case of ‘twisted honour’. The two older girls had boyfriends and had told school authorities of the abuse they suffered at home from their father, an Afghan immigrant. Twisted is so very apt. As the judge said, this thinking has no place in civilised society.

Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with their religion, Islam, and yet it has everything to do with it. It is a cultural aberration, much like the wearing of the niqab or burka, seen all too often in Pakistani and Afghan families, as well as Iranian, Iraqi and other Arab communities, yet there are other cultures that practise similar beliefs: Greek, Italian, Indian, African and other non-Islamic cultures have also had ‘honour killings’ of female relatives. It is brought about by the men of the culture thinking they are superior to women, that they have some ‘god-given’ right and know better than anyone else. They allege it is written in the Koran and justify their medieval and misogynistic mindset claiming their God has sanctioned their behaviour. Read this essay in support of the view that this is an Islamic thing. Nothing could be further from the truth according to others. This topic is not new and has been debated for years, so what is the truth?

The truth for me is that it doesn’t make any difference whether it is Islamic and sanctioned in the Koran and the Hadith or it is a cultural misinterpretation of those scriptures. It is wrong. There is right and there is wrong and it makes no difference what religion you are, the colour of your skin or if you are male or female, rich or poor. Right is right and wrong is wrong and if the killing of anyone, other than in self defense, is considered right then that person or society is wrong. Who gave these people the right to take another person’s life? Even though the causes of war are too often wrong, at least on one side but usually on both, from the individual soldier’s perspective it is all about self defence. This is why soldiers fight for each other, to keep themselves and their mates alive and not for Queen and Country or the flag or the cause, but to stay alive.

Murdering your own flesh and blood to preserve an abstract concept such as family honour is obscene. Not to them, but it is to me. Does that make me right and them wrong? Yes. They will never accept they are wrong and no doubt they could argue I am the one who is wrong but I will never accept they have the right to murder anyone, let alone female members of their family. These swine received refuge and a good life in our society, our culture, then they tainted it with their wrong thinking and killed four women who, no doubt, embraced our way of life. They deserve to be sent back to where they came from and buried up to their breasts and stoned to death. Surely they would be grateful for such an Islamic death? Maybe then they might see the error of their ways.

Asteroids And Near Misses

An asteroid the size of a mini-van just missed the earth by some 59,000 kilometres. OK, so how is that news? The reality is it would have broken up on entry but what if it were bigger? Think of all those craters on the moon and how they got there. A really big asteroid would be tracked for some time, allowing the rich and powerful to get to the other side of the earth when it hit, I’m sure of that. After all, civilization must go one and they are the ones with the power and the money. As for the rest of us, we are replaceable. Cynical? Perhaps but the longer I live the more cynical I seem to become. Or is that wisdom?

The reality is that if we are wiped out the earth will continue on. We won’t but the earth will. It has been here billions of revolutions around the sun and will be here for billions more. We’ll be dust but then that is the way it is. There is nothing we can do to stop an asteroid wiping us out if our number is up so don’t worry about this unlikely event. Worry instead about your elderly neighbours. Have you seen them lately or have they died, alone and unremarked in their bed? Worry about your kids or your parents. Family is all. Have you seen each other lately? Hugged? Been there for each other?

When the going gets tough, who can you rely on? It will rarely get tougher than the days between the announcement we are all doomed and the strike of the asteroid, should that ever happen. In those few days or weeks, we will see the best and the worst of our fellow humans. How will you behave?

Cocaine In Textbook

A US university student bought a second hand text book for a course she was taking about terrorism and when she opened it a packet of white powder fell out. Her first thought was it was anthrax but the local police tested the contents and declared them to be about $400 worth of cocaine. what if it had been anthrax? What if the book mix up led to her meeting the intended recipient one dark night?

The probability of anything bad happening is pretty low but not zero. Where do you think Hollywood screenwriters get their ideas from? Real life. Then they glam them up but the original story is usually based on something they read about in the press, like this story. If you don’t want to be the subject of a screen adaptation, what do you do? There is no simple answer to that because as I said, the odds of it happening to you are pretty slim. This woman did the right thing. She carefully took the packet to the police station. I would have called the police and asked them then and there to come and collect it. If she had been stopped and searched for whatever reason enroute, telling the judge you ‘found it’ and were on your way to hand it in might not work. Especially in the USA with their draconian drug laws and zero tolerance to letting their corporate prisons miss out on one more profit center.

What Do You Do When They Die?

A recent report from the UK of a man taking his dead mum home on a 50km bus trip has made me think about what to do when someone dies. I have a cousin who is handicapped after suffering viral meningitis as a boy. Until recently he lived with my aunty, now 92 and in a home. He is 64. I can imagine him just wanting to get her home and then asking for help from the neighbours. He would be confused and very defensive… who wouldn’t?

Death has no timetable or appointment schedule. when it comes, it comes. Do you know what to do if a loved one passes away? Who do you call? What do you do first? As a former Military Policeman my first thought is to protect the scene as it may be a crime scene. In the case of an elderly relative passing away peacefully in their sleep this is not an issue but what if you were to come across them lying on the floor in a pool of blood?

First you check for vital signs and give first aid but if they are not responding, consider you may be standing in a crime scene. Forget the CSI TV hype, real forensic scenes of crime investigators don’t carry on like on TV, nor do they have the time to. Try not to spoil the scene or move too many things. Obviously giving first aid will change things but it will be clear to the SOCE officer that you did what you tell them you did, the evidence will support your story.

Once all that is in hand, police and ambulance called and so on, then what? Do you know what to do next? Are you an executor of the estate? Start thinking now about the unthinkable. What if it was a child or spouse of yours? What if it were you, would your loved ones know what to do?

A bookcase that becomes a coffin, I want one!

Just Hang Up

I read with sadness and anger that another teenager had committed suicide due to being bullied. This included ‘cyber bullying‘ and the report made a big deal about how the bullying never stopped. When the girl got home it was there on her social network page. OK, this is where it gets a little hard for me to follow. If the bullying was going on online… why not close the account? Why not change name and password? Why not simply stop going online? Sooner or later the bully would get the hint and lose interest.

I am sorry, it is a tragedy for sure but the biggest tragedy has to be that the girl valued her social network more than her life. She would rather kill herself than go without her Facebook or whichever social network it was. This is ridiculous! Don’t blame the social network or the internet, don’t even blame the bully. If the bully intended her to kill herself, then charge him and take him through the courts. If the bully was just another mental midget, troubled teen with issues, then that is sad but the choice to end it all was hers, nobody else’s.

Which makes me think that some people are predisposed to dealing with stress and pressure that way, rather than fight back, confront the bullies or simply switch off the computer. It is sad, no argument but I think we need to keep things in perspective and not get too wound up, too ‘you poor thing’. We are tending to get softer and softer as we conquer more and more of the every day risks life has for us. We will never totally eradicate all risk and that is a good thing because danger is the best instructor there is.

Is A Military Knife Sharper?

If there is one thing that really twists my Wa it is ignorant bleeding civilians who haven’t a clue about anything military except the rubbish they get off the glass toilet. Media types loosely calling themselves journalists are the worst. I despise them when they call every sword or long knife used to scare or skin, a ‘samurai sword,’ as if it is the only sword ever made. Most idiots who wield swords nowadays don’t use ‘samurai’ swords, or even anything remotely Japanese, but who cares when ‘samurai’ and ‘ninja’ are so emotive?

The same for AK47 assault rifles. The Kalashnikov AK47 hasn’t been made for decades, not since AKMs and AK74s and a whole range of other newer models hit the streets. Worse is when they call it an M47 or an AK16 and mix it with the US weapon, derived from the Armalite AR15 (and now called an M4, a derivative of the M16A2). It gets worse with AFVs, or armoured fighting vehicles. If it has tracks it is a tank. If it is big and armoured it is a tank. Not an armoured car or an APC, armoured personnel carrier, tracked load carrier, self propelled gun or any one of a plethora of AFVs. No, it is a tank.

Even more ludicrous is the slant the media seem to give a story by using the word ‘military’. When they relate how something happened with ‘military precision’ it is obvious they were never in the military. I was and believe me, most of the time things got cocked up and we had to muddle through as best we could, regardless. This story made me cringe, too. For some reason a ‘military knife’ is sharper and far more deadly than the 8 inch cook’s knife most commonly used to murder and maim. Following that, cheap Stanley knives (razor knives) and screwdrivers tend to get used far more often than purpose designed ‘fighting knives’. But really, they used a ‘military knife’? So what? The victim shouldn’t have gotten out of the car and as there were two coming at him, why didn’t the driver get out sooner? We can second guess this incident to death but the fact remains, the type of knife is irrelevant compared to the fact the knifer had the intent to use it, and use it he did, repeatedly.

I mean what are we supposed to infer from this? That because they use the words ‘military style’, the knife was more dangerous? That the user was more determined? What? I had three knives issued to me when I was in the army. The biggest was a machete. Then there was my bayonet and the edge on that would barely part butter, as in there wasn’t one and if you tried to put one on it you would be charged for damaging government property. The other knife was a ‘Knife, Pocket Clasp, with lanyard’. It had a deer foot blade (meaning not pointy at all), a vicious tin/bottle opener and a marlin spike for getting young Diggers out of the tracks of APCs and it was on a lanyard so you wouldn’t lose it. Fight with it? Not while I had any ammo left for my L1A1 SLR (Google it). Failing that, if it came down to fighting with a military knife I think using the rifle’s butt or an entrenching tool would have been more effective, I was in the Engineers and later the Military Police, not the bloody Gurkhas!

The thing is, the type of weapon (or the lack of one) is irrelevant. Deadly is deadly. It makes no difference that the inland taipan can kill 40,000 mice with one dose of venom and the coastal taipan can barely manage 20,000 mice. That is still a lot of dead rodents and dead is dead, afterall. What counts every time is the intent. The intent of the attacker to drive home their attack and the intent of the victim to defend themselves or not. Usually the most aggressive person wins. If that person is bigger, more numerous and or armed, then the odds are in their favour even more. Intent is everything, believe me. I should know, I used to have a military knife, remember?

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