Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas meme?

From TFS

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Iced coffee?

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Puts them under the tree...

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored!

4. Do you hang mistletoe? We use a small sprig of pohutukawa.

5. When do you put your decorations up? About the first or second week of December.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Fresh fish - preferably hapuku (sea bass) - pan fried with butter and nothing!

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Going out on the cream run (milking, and collection, never stops.) with my dad.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? From as early as I can remember.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Tinsel and lights!

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Snow? Sun and sand here!

12. Do you ice skate? No.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? A jewellery box that I made for my wife from rewarewa.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Being with my family!

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Hmm, tough one that. Strawberries in kirsch with cream.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Christmas tradition? Tough one that too. Family dinner, which usually started at about 2pm and finished about 8pm.

17. What tops your tree? A star.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? I have always had a fear of receiving gifts, and a dread of buying. On balance, giving.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Handel's "Messiah", the whole thing. Far more inventive and cheery than Bach's "Christmas Oratorio".

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Yeeech!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Snapshot of the "average American"...

I could not help a quiet smile.

Reyes sat down with a reporter for the Congressional Quarterly to answer a few questions, like: Is Al Qaeda Sunni or Shia? Answer: Sunni. Reyes stumbled around and tried to sit the fence by saying both. Clueless.

What's the difference, Mr. Intel Committee chairman, between Sunni and Shia? This one actually requires two minutes of reading and even Wikipedia can keep you in the ballpark. Suffice it to say, Shia are followers of Ali, the son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad. Ali was married to the prophet's daughter Fatima, and when the prophet died some Muslims thought Ali should lead Islam and others thought a learned scholar should be the leader, hence the split between Shia, followers of Ali, and Sunni, a long time ago after Muhammad died.

That thumbnail sketch would have gotten him through it, even as crudely as I related it.

Now are there Republicans who voted for the war who don't know these facts? Sure. But we're now talking about the people in charge, and as of January Reyes is in charge and he's clueless.

Pelosi told Brit Hume that the war in Iraq isn't a war, but a situation that needs to be fixed. She picks a guy who doesn't know why Al Qaeda was formed or which branch of Islam it represents.

The Herald this morning mentioned Reyes' response to the question "What is Hezbollah?". He offered to respond in Spanish but, as the Herald article pointed out, it is unlikely that Spain has much to do with the correct answer.

I wonder - I can think of some - a few - NZ politicians who would certainly know the answers to two of the three questions. But what about the likes of the common back-bencher?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Be President for ten minutes...

For those who may be interested in the “how” and the “why” of international politics, here is a small (in every sense of the word) conundrum for consideration and debate…

Situation –

A small, Pacific Island nation, democratic government, strong law, strong military.

Population comprises First Nation people (51%), and an immigrant population predominantly descended from cheap labour brought in to work the sugar plantations.

Over the past 20 years, there have been four coup d’etat. These coups have essentially been driven by the perception that the immigrant population was exercising too greater power in the government. That perception is based upon (in the first instance) the election of a left of centre government led by an immigrant Prime Minister. At that time the immigrant population was a majority, about 55% of the total population. After changes to the Constitution which vested guaranteed government control in the indigenous population, the last election in 2001 has resulted in relatively stable government.

That government recently proposed three laws which the Commander of the Army does not agree with. The first proposal included government pardons and freedom from prosecution for all civilians involved in the four coups, and particularly the last civilian coup. Three members of the deposed government are “beneficiaries” of that proposed law. The second proposed that all foreshores and the seabed should vest in the ownership of the indigenous population.

The Army Commander has acted against the government because he believes the proposed laws “will cause major civil strife”.

After a slow and progressive series of actions, the Army has taken over the Government, the Commander has adopted the position of President and has appointed a government of ministers in place of the elected government.

The questions for debate –

How should your nation respond to a call for assistance from the deposed Prime Minister?

What manner and level of action should be taken against the “illegal” government?

Should there have been pressure on the deposed government prior to the coup? If so, what form should that pressure have taken?