A story that nicely illustrates the meaning of the Yiddish word chutzpah concerns the man who is on trial for the murder of his mother and father. When asked by the judge if he had anything to say in mitigation before sentence is passed, he suggested that he should be dealt with leniently as he was now an orphan.
Another instance of chutzpah has occurred when a Nigerian official complained that the Islamist terrorist organisation, Boko Haram, had gained such a strong grip over parts of the north east of the country, because the West had not supplied the official Nigerian government with sufficient weapons to combat them. This same official was apparently happy to overlook the fact that Nigeria has been an independent country since 1960, that it had made squillions of dollars from the export of oil and that one of its presidents, Sani Abacha, ruler for a scant five years, had walked off with a mere $2.5 billions! (That’s approximately $2.5 million a day. He can have had little time for anything else other than loading aircraft with banknotes. The government could have bought quite a lot of guns and bullets with $2.5 really big ones. Graca Machel, widow of recently deceased African icon, Nelson Mandela, has said very recently, that it is about time that Africans set about solving their own problems rather than reflexly running off to the UK or the USA for help. Now there’s a turn up! Obviously, rich countries like the USA and Britain have a part to play, but should it be the prime role?
A few months ago, an Aboriginal child in Ontario was found to have lymphoblastic leukaemia. A course of chemotherapy was begun with every hope that recovery would ensue. Half way through her course of treatment, her parents complained that the white doctors were administering poison to their little girl and insisted that treatment be stopped. The hospital authorities went to court to have the parents wishes set aside. The case went to a superior court that has ruled that the parents have the final say over the treatment given to their daughter and to insist that treatment continue would be to infringe their native rights.
The parents indicated that they wanted to pursue native treatments. These have turned out to be the ministrations of a holistic outfit in Florida who are giving the girl organically grown veggies along with massage. Almost certainly the judge, the parents and the hospital authorities have condemned the child to death. Surely someone should have explained, in great detail, to the parents the ins and outs of the problem and then had the guts to take the child into state care and getting on with putting her right. Surely a case of political correctness gone stark, raving mad.
Two Canadian scientists, working in Switzerland at the Hadron Collider have discovered two new particles. These exist for a mere one billionth of a trillionth of a second. I assume that the workers concerned have extremely accurate wrist watches. How short a time can something be said to exist before it actually does not? So, a billionth of a trillionth of a second: it exists. How about a trillionth of a trillionth? Starts to become a little silly.
This week’s piece: Management
Lethbridge, Saturday, November 22nd 2014.
The first real snow has come to Lethbridge. Last Saturday afternoon we were working in the garden and making plans for certain changes we hope to introduce next year. The temperature was a balmy 10 degrees Celsius. Overnight, a storm blew in from the Arctic and we awoke to temperatures in the minus teens and lots of the white stuff. Yoshi, the dog, was very pleased for he loves snow and the Winter. He choses to wear a thick, black, fur coat all year round and finds it uncomfortable during the heat. Come the snow, he can bite it, roll in it, run round like a mad thing and generally put his coat to good use. For us humans it is a question of unearthing the winter coats, tuques, fur hats, winter gloves and boots and taking forever to dress to go out and as long to get back inside. Mothers of young children often complain that it takes about ten minutes to dress one infant appropriately. If they have three toddlers then about a half an hour passes before they can leave the house. By that time, toddler number one wants a pee and another ten minutes elapses while it is being peeled and peed and dressed again. Then toddler number two needs a pee. And so on. The shopping expedition just gets cancelled and supper, that night, comes out of the freezer.
The Group of Twenty (G20) leaders are meeting in Brisbane, Australia to discuss what ails the World’s finances. Mr Tony Abbott, the prime minister of Australia, is acting as host. Each leader was given a few minutes to state his/her case at the opening session and Tony used his time to bemoan the fact that he could not get the Australian parliament to pass his budget. He was particularly exercised that a move to introduce a co-payment for GP visits did not get up. I imagine that his fellow leaders were rather more interested in what he had for breakfast than co-payments for doctors’ visits. Abbott is a fool and must have roundly embarrassed his countrymen. I met him when he was minister of health in the Howard years. I was not impressed and the students I was with at the time, even less so.
The UK security authorities claim to have scotched a planned bomb attack upon the Remembrance Ceremonies at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. This solemn occasion is attended by the Queen and members of the Royal Family. Surely, the terrorists have worked out that should they harm the Queen, it would be open season in the UK for everyone who was not obviously a native. Mayhem, and some, would be unleashed. But, those who are driven by religious fervour of the jihadist flavour, leave their common sense at the door, and who knows what such lunatics are capable of.
This week’s piece: Global Warming
November 15th 2014
The first Tuesday in November has come and the Republicans have regained control of the US Senate and improved their position in the House of Representatives. The wretched President Barack Obama is now a gold plated lame duck and will spend the next two years being hounded even harder by Congress. From the moment he was elected as president in 2008, the Republicans took aim at him and determined to bring him low by all means possible. By now, he must feel a little like St Sebastian, who was used as a popinjay by his enemies. It is obvious that the Goths and Vandals, who occupy the more extreme reaches of the G.O.P, were outraged, that someone they saw as an uppity nigra, would presume to occupy the White House in company with his black woman and their brood. They have spent the past six years doing their best to put him in his place.
They made hay with the fact that his middle name was Hussein. They insisted that he was not born in the United States. They accused him of being a Muslim. That he was a communist was, to them, patently obvious. Poor bastard, he will be so happy to catch that helicopter as soon as possible after the swearing in of the next president in early 2017. Organising his presidential papers and opening his presidential library will seem like a whole lot of fun.
The United States is a mysterious place to those who are not Americans. It has given the world so much: science, literature, art, music, support for democracy but it is also the home of 'Here comes Honey Boo Boo'. Ugh! it is the most overtly Christian of the Western Democracies and yet it often behaves in an entirely unchristian manner. If the main tenet of Christianity is to love one another, then how is it that any policy aimed to encouraging community support for the unfortunate is regarded as shameful and even sinful. Look at the reaction to Obamacare. What civilised, developed country can stomach the fact that millions of its less fortunate citizens have no access to affordable health care? An poor wretch, born with foetal alcohol syndrome, for example, can be left to rot without state help. Such a person has not contributed one jot to his predicament and can hardly be described as feckless.How can a Christian country lock men up for upwards of thirty years before taking them out and executing them? One Republican candidate in the Deep South campaigned on the slogan,’ Guns, God and Gumbo.’ He won his seat. Good heavens! The USA marches to the sound of its drum to a beat that most of us do not follow.
Saturday, November 8th 2014
Please note that my memoir has been published and can be obtained through Amazon.com as a soft cover book or as a Kindle download: