Monday, May 31, 2004

Monday Night News Update!

I've got some personal news that I'm eager to share with you, but, keeping with the news theme, I thought I'd take a moment to look at some of the more interesting news stories I have come across recently.

The world works in strange ways. I was stunned to learn that Michael Moore interviewed Nick Berg for his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11". I think it shows a certain depth of character that Moore is giving the footage to the family. Provided, of course, that they don't just proceed to sell it to Fox News for a massive profit. I can't help but wonder if Nick Berg's family still hold the same pro-war sentiments that their son did...

While we're talking about Fox News, I'd like to direct your attention to this story I found on their website. I've got to admit that I had a little chuckle at this one. The mind boggles when I consider where this could lead - Just how are crowns of thorns being worn in Paris nowadays? Sorry, probably a little tasteless. Please feel free to forgive my sins whilst I rush out to buy my very own life-size crucifix. The only dilemma is - What colour should I get?

The last news story I wanted to mention was this little ditty that I found in The Age. I'm not entirely sure why, but this story completely blew my mind. I haven't got much to say about it except- How much of an idiot must "John" be? Who would honestly do something so extreme at the heed of someone they had only interacted with via the internet? I'll try to mull this one over and return with my thoughts later in the week. Of course it'll have to wait until after I've returned from the assassination task that Neurocam have set.

Now onto the personal news...

I went to my Aikido class today and found out that I passed my grading. As a result I've gone from 9th Kyu (white belt) skipped past 8th Kyu (red belt) and am now 7th Kyu (orange belt). There's still a long way to go, and it only gets harder from here, but I'm pretty proud of my achievement... Yay me!

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Playing the Joker.

A few posts ago I informed you of my ongoing correspondence with the mysterious Iocus Severus (which Cyzilla kindly pointed out is Latin for "Total Joker" or "Complete Joker"). Iocus Severus claims to have many of answers to the Neurocam situation and has been offering to share those answers with me.

Since that post there has been further correspondence, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to fill you in on the latest developments.

In response to Iocus Severus's last e-mail I sent the following:

Sender: Graham Henstock
Subject: Re: Neurocam
Date: Thursday 20th May, 2004

Dear Iocus

Now that we have begun a dialogue I hope you won't mind if I refer to you by your first name. As, up until now, you seem comfortable using mine, I'm sure you won't be bothered by the implied familiarity.

In your last e-mail you have proudly worn your disdain for Robert Henley on your sleeve. Although I am intrigued as to the nature of the events which may have lead to this disdain, I am quite prepared to bide my time until you are prepared to reveal them. I can only assume that they may, at least partially, be integral to your own interest in this matter and, as you stated in your previous e-mail, it does not necessarily serve either of us to race into a hasty disclosure.

Taking into consideration your feelings about the nature of our correspondence, along with your desire to be "tickled pink", I have taken the liberty of posting elements of said correspondence on my web journal. It is my sincerest hope that you will find this development pleasing.

I concede your point on the nature of "cheating". At no point, during my interactions with Neurocam, was I advised of any "overall" rules. Various assignments had "rules" attached to them, but it has never been stated that these "rules" applied at other times. It may have been implied, but, as they say, the devil is in the detail.

Although I am brimming over with questions I wish to ask of you, I thought it would be best to conclude this e-mail with just one. It is easy, after all, for a conversation to be swamped by a plethora of questions, which only results in any answers being drowned by detail. It would be a shame if that was to occur in this instance, so the question I shall ask you is: What can you tell me about the "hasty" closure of the New Zealand branch of Neurocam?

I eagerly await your response.

Kind Regards,

Graham Henstock.

I didn't have to wait long for a response. Here's what he (or she) had to say:

Sender: Iocus Severus
Subject: Neurocam
Date: Tuesday 25th of May

Dear Graham,

If I were a pedant, I would insist you used my whole name. Iocus Severus is a Latin motto. If you take a moment to translate it you will see the humour inhering to the words, "Dear iocus". I think we may safely say that I
am a pedant, though in this instance I acquiesce in favour of a pleasant little joke.

Thank you for your consideration in the publishing of our correspondence on your web journal. I did enjoy reading your ruminations on our happy little dialogue and the Innocence developments.

I think your question regarding the closure of the New Zealand branch of Neurocam should be addressed to Henley. Perhaps, you have already received his response.

As this email represents a modicum of information, I will offer you the following URL's. I had hoped you would have asked me for them, but you didn't. Not to worry.

Link 1.
Link 2.
Link 3.
Link 4.

You have other questions to ask of me.

Yours sincerely,

Iocus Severus

Despite Iocus Severus's promise of revealing a plethora of new information, only one of the links provided was new to me. I informed him of such in my most recent e-mail:

Sender: Graham Henstock
Subject: cerebrum oculus
Date: Saturday 29th May, 2004.

Dear Iocus Severus (or would you prefer Meus Aenigma?)

I'm extremely glad that you did not take offense to the abbreviation of your moniker in my most recent e-mail. Now that I am aware of your feelings on the
matter, I'll endeavor to use your proffered title in its entirety throughout our future dealings. Unless, of course, the level of trust between us becomes such that you feel sufficiently secure to reveal your true name.

I'm sorry for the tardiness I have demonstrated in taking so long to respond to your last correspondence. Life has been a touch hectic, but I am reliably
informed that that is no excuse for a lethargic manner, so I hope you'll accept my apologies on this matter. Of course, if the extended period of time has caused you more than mild distress, I would take this moment to remind you that patience is considered by many to be a virtue.

Now onto the matters raised in your recent e-mail...

Although questioned about the closure of the New Zealand branch of Neurocam, Robert Henley (or whomever is posing as him) has been extremely elusive on the issue. As it would seem that he is rather hesitant to discuss the issue, any light you are able to shed on the subject would be most welcome.

My thanks for the links you provided. Sadly I feel I should inform you that just one of them was useful (, due to the fact that I have encountered all of the others before. It was, in fact, due to these sites that I first discovered the name Robin Hely.

If you're able to spare the time to look back over my blog, you'll realise that I first proffered Robin Hely as "The most likely candidate for being Robert Henley" as early as January 19th - a mere 5 days after I commenced my involvement with Neurocam. I was, however, extremely interested to see Robin's name presented alongside that of Peter Burke.

As you are no doubt aware, Peter Burke is reportedly the "Chairman of the Board" at Innocence(tm). I have mused in the past that there is a connection between
Shelly Innocence and Neurocam, and this is a further validation of my theory. I will continue to pursue this lead and will report my findings to you.

I now wish to take this moment to inform you that I am enjoying our correspondence immensely. Apart from being intellectually stimulating, you are being most
helpful in my quest to unravel the Neurocam mystery.

Following the precedent I set in my last e-mail, I would like to finish with a single question - How does Innocence(tm) fit into Robert Henley's plans?

I eagerly await your response.

Warmest regards,

Graham Henstock.

I am yet to receive a response to my e-mail, but will let you know what transpires once I do. It would seem that the joke is on someone, but who? Me? Robert Henley? Or Iocus Severus himself? Only time will tell.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Ouch! And a little UNDERSTANDING(tm)

I'm home from my Aikido grading and I hurt all over. I'll be told the results of my two hours of being thrown around a Dojo on Monday, although I am aware of some of the more immediate results right now...

All in all, despite the bruised coccyx, I feel that I did pretty well. One of my techniques was a touch sloppy, but, considering that the rest felt OK, I suspect they'll let it slide.

In other news, today I decided to take the plunge and e-mail Innocence(tm). Their connection to Neurocam still isn't entirely clear, so, as an icebreaker, I thought I'd start my correspondence with a suggestion for a product range.

Subject: New Product Range - Understanding(tm)

To the always alluring Shelly and the rest of the Innocence(tm) team.

I'm quite intrigued by Shelly and everything she stands for. She is a
fascinating, beguiling woman who I feel very privileged to have
met in the flesh.

If it's not too bold, I'd like to suggest a new product that your
company may wish to produce.

Understanding(tm) - Have you got it yet?

Keep up the good work, I look forward to seeing what Shelly will promote next.

Kind regards,

Graham Henstock

It didn't take long before I received a response from Peter Burke who is (according to their website) Innocence (tm)'s Chairman of the board (as well as Creative–Art Director/Marketing Manager).

He writes:

Dear Graham

Thank you for your suggestion for a new product range.

We will discuss the prospect of adding Understanding(tm) to our list at our
next board meeting. You may be interested in testing the first sample if
our lab can procure the formula.

You can meet Shelly Innocence at the launch of Happiness(tm) at Federation
Square at 12.00 noon on Saturday 19 June.


Peter Burke

Intriguing... It looks like I'll be able to make it to the launch of Happiness(tm), so perhaps more will be revealed then.

I wonder if I'll get a free shirt...

Thursday, May 27, 2004

More on Salam Pax.

As a quick follow-up to my last post, I though you'd like to know that you can go here and see an interview with Salam Pax.

I'm not sure how long it'll be hosted there, so check it out soon.

Thanks also to Cyzilla for this observation in an e-mail sent to me:

Just remember though that for every salam there's a riverbend -

"I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while you can- while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? We'll take our chances- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go."

Point taken Cz and I hope you don't mind me sharing it with everybody else. Rest assured that Riverbend's blog is also on my regular reading list... As it should be on everybody's.

That's all for now. Too busy to get into this in depth because I need to eat, sleep, work and prepare for the fact that I've got my Aikido grading in two days time... So until after then - Ciao!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Dear Salam.

I'm sure by now that most of you have heard of Salam Pax, the inspirational Iraqi blogger whose observations prior, throughout, and post the conflict in Iraq have made him a cyber-celebrity.

If you haven't, then I suggest you do some research. I'm not going to spend time on his background here because I assume that most people reading this will already be (at the very least) worded up on the Salam Pax phenomenon, or (at the most) regular readers of his blog.

Nowadays, when he's not busy writing columns for The Guardian, Salam is jetting around the world, doing interviews, and discussing the fact that his blog has been collected and republished as a book.

It was due to the book "The Baghdad Blog" that last night, as part of a special Readings Writer's Festival event, I got to meet Salam Pax. I don't mean to imply that I was the only person who had the pleasure of meeting Salam, there were around 50 people there, but I suspect that each one of us went away feeling that we had made a personal connection with him.

After a brief introduction he took the stage, and, after a brief preamble about how strange it felt to be considered a "writer" (he feels that he was just writing a diary for his friends), he started to take questions from the audience. The next 40 minutes were some of the most engaging minutes of my life.

Salam spoke in depth about his experiences as a blogger and how, in hindsight, he realises that what he did was incredibly foolish. He spoke about how he felt the book version of the blog didn't do it justice ("It was meant for another medium") and how disorientated he was after the realisation that so many people visiting his site were on a quest for "answers" about the conflict in Iraq.

He spoke about the accusations that he is merely propaganda for one side or the other, and how no-one could be sure that he WAS Salam Pax ("Some of the things I say could still get me into trouble, so maybe it's best to say "No, I'm not Salam Pax""). And then he went on to talk about the current situation in Iraq.

What he had to say on the subject was remarkably interesting. He commented on the fact that there is still no real police force in Iraq ("If something happens on my street I have to approach an American soldier for help.") and how freedom of speech is still a distant dream ("There are lots of people who set up newspapers that get shut down the next day." "If you criticise the coalition you'll be shut down pretty quickly.").

He spoke about the way that people living in Iraq are mostly just trying to get on with their lives, and how he hopes that eventually Baghdad will be cleaned up and once again become the city that he loved to live in. He also spoke about the political upheaval in Iraq ("There are so many factions that have been used to being quiet about each other. Now that they can start to speak openly, we are realising how angry we are with each other.") and how he believes that it's essential that the Americans don't leave just yet. He was quite open about his feelings about the Americans, despite the fact that he believes that they have done many things wrong, he believes that ultimately they are a stablising presence, and if they were to leave now chaos would ensue.

He finished the night by pointing us all towards some other Iraqi Bloggers and then he took the time to shake a few hands, sign a few books, and answer a few more questions.

After getting my book signed I had to leave and to go have dinner with Sharn and my parents (who are visiting from Canberra for a few days), but I left with an amazing feeling of well-being. Definitely one of the more amazing encounters of life. And it's a pleasure to report it here. I do, however, apologise to Salam if some of the quotes I've used in this post are slightly paraphrased as I have relied only on my occasionally swiss cheese memory when repeating them here.

An interesting afterward - I also heard Salam Pax interviewed on ABC radio this morning. He covered many of the same topics as he did last night (although he did so with an added level of care and diplomacy), but there was one new thing he said that really stuck out, and I think it deserves repeating (although possibly slightly paraphrased) here. When asked about the presence of American soldiers in Bagdhdad Salam said something along the lines of "I don't mind the American soldiers being there, but I'm still waiting for the day when one of them will smile at me on the street. I don't think they realise that they might get a lot more done if they tried speaking to Iraqi's instead of shouting at them."

I hope it's one bit of advice that will make its way back to the American leadership...

Monday, May 24, 2004


Consider yourself put on it!

One weekend last November my housemate and I made a trip North to the Goulbourn Valley where we caught PQM's set at Earthcore.

I was so impressed that this year I'm intending to spend that entire weekend sitting, dancing, talking, eating and sleeping in the bush.

The initial line-up has been announced with more name to follow, and with names like Freq Nasty, 1200 Mics, Salmonella Dub and Lab 4, it's already looking like a pearler.

I'll be there, and I'd love it if some of you were there with me.

So who's up for it?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Neurocam E-Mails...

It's been a while since I've received any correspondence from Robert Henley, my Neurocam contact, and it seems as though the Neurocam assignments have ceased.

Did I fail the last assignment? What's been going on? Is there some other reason for this apparent slow in Neurocam activity? I'm not sure, but I think I may have some clues.

Quite a while ago (The 4th of March) I received a mysterious e-mail which read:

Subject: n1e2u3r4o5c6a7m
Sender: "l t"

i have been reading your blog

i may have i6n7f8o9r0m1a2t3i4o5n you want

you have i1n2f3o4r5m6a7t8i9o0n i want

i need to know if i can trust you

a simple task;

in your next entry, put the word 'trust' in a paragraph unrelated to n1e2u3r4o5c6a7m, link that word to this url;

do not mention this email to anyone, do not write it down, do not publish anything about it on the internet

do not bother replying as this address was set up for this mail only and will never be accessed again

i will try to maintain contact with you

i have much interest in n1e2u3r4o5c6a7m, 'R1o2b3e4r5t' and i seem think alike

i am not against you, however i am not with you yet either

where we go from here is up to you

Intrigued, I decided to do as the mysterious e-mailer requested. And so, on Friday the 5th of March 2004, I placed the requested link into one of my posts. Feel free to go back and have a look if you doubt me.

Nothing came of it... Nobody attempted to contact me...

I was quite confused by this fact and eventually chalked it up to the ongoing "Mind Games" that Neurocam seemed to be playing.

Then, earlier this week, I received another interesting e-mail. It read:

Subject: Robert Henley
Sender: "Iocus Severus"

Dear Graham,

I have followed your NEUROCAM adventures with some interest. The answers you seek are right under your nose. I suspect that you would prefer to ignore the truth and pursue the NEUROCAM narrative to it's conclusion, assuming of course, there is one. If that is the case, delete this email and forget you ever received it.

I'm afraid "Mr. Henley" is neither as clever nor as mysterious as he would like you to believe. Play the game to WIN, Graham. You've read John Fowles, "The Magus". Nicholas Urfe was a victim. You don't want to be a victim do you? Read instead "The Analyst" by John Katzenbach.

Early in your NEUROCAM experience you conducted some research. You may have already seen this web page. Look again. Point your web browser to:

This is one of a number of interesting pages. The URL's are yours for the asking.

You don't know me. You have never seen my face, nor heard, nor read my name. You never will.

This is an invitation to a dialogue. If you would like further assistance, you may contact me via the address from whence this email came.

It may interest "Mr. Henley" to know that he and I sat across from each other, in a bar in September 2003. That is as close as he has ever been to me.

Yours sincerely,

Iocus Severus.

I was surprised by this second e-mail. After a few re-reads I concluded that the sender was probably not the same person who had tried to contact me with the first e-mail. For one thing the tone was completely different, and it was implied that this was the first attempt at contact. I am, however, aware of what they say about assumptions.

Throwing caution to the wind I sent the following in reply:

Mr. Severus.

Your invitation to a dialogue has me quite intrigued.

The first question I would ask of you, however, is - would ours be a secret dialogue? As you are no doubt aware, I have been chronicling my Neurocam experiences on my web journal and would like to continue doing so. Obviously if our correspondence is to be of a discreet nature I will have to consider how I will best be able to utilise (and report) any information you provide me with. The final sentence of your e-mail, however, lends me to believe that you do not fear Robert Henley in anyway and would not be concerned if I reported your existence to him.

I'm extremely curious as to what your own interest in this matter is. Although you have attempted to give the impression that your only concern in providing me with an opportunity to discover the "truth", I find it difficult to believe that you do not have an alternate agenda.

Consider our dialogue begun Mr.Severus. I eagerly await your next e-mail.

Kind Regards,


I didn't have to wait long for a response. Within a few days I received the following e-mail:

Subject: Neurocam
Sender: Iocus Severus

Dear Graham,

I am pleased you have decided to engage with me. I trust you are well.

The penultimate sentence in my initial correspondence to you was addressed
specifically to Robert. This one sentence, carefully read would have
answered your first question and confirmed you in your concerns and

Nevertheless, I will spell it out for you.

I do not fear Robert Henley. He is a man of little consequence, though from his position, in the Emerald City at the end of the yellow brick road, he might appear somewhat more significant. It would tickle me pink if Mr. Henley were apprised of the fact of a gatecrasher at his little party. However, if you would like to maintain our dialogue in secrecy, do let me know. While not nearly as fun for any of us, it can be accommodated.

I apologise if I gave you the impression that my only concern was to provide you with an opportunity to discover the "truth". I do of course, have an agenda, though it would serve neither you nor I, were I to disclose it at this point in time. By all means ponder this; Henley closed the New Zealand branch of Neurocam *in haste*, before resuming his activities in Australia.

The concept of "cheating" might arguably be considered a moralistic (and therefore, an arbitrarily constructed) imposition on human behaviour.
At what point in your Neurocam experience were you apprised of the rules? To whom ought any particular strategy be desireable?

Yours sincerely,

Iocus Severus

The "hasty" close of the New Zealand branch has me quite intrigued, has something similar occured now in Melbourne?

It's also quite interesting that the link Iocus has provided so far points once again to Robin Hely (the ex-VCA based artist I found references to during my early investigations) and his work with hidden cameras. It does go a long way to explaining how Robert was able to get pictures of the other Neurocam participants and myself during the assignments. Does it, however, imply that Robert Henley is in fact Robin Hely (the names ARE remarkably similar) or is Robin Hely connected to Neurocam in some other manner?

I'm not sure. Perhaps Mr. Severus will be able to shed some light on the matter, and, considering he seems quite happy for our correspondence to be public, I'll now be able to keep you in the loop on any further information he (or she) provides.

In another interesting development, the other day I received what I believe is another Neurocam-related e-mail:

Subject: INNOCENCE(tm)

Innocence(tm) is a collaborative advertising style campaign challenging the boundary between art and popular culture. Visit and find true Happiness(tm) today.

Innocence(tm)'s billboard campaign begins on May 15 at the following locations: Cnr Gertrude & Smith Sts, Fitzroy; Richmond Station; Burke Rd, Camberwell; Flemington Rd, Nth Melbourne and Nth Melbourne Station.

Peter Burke

You'll remember that Shelly Innocence was the somewhat masculine New Zealand supermodel that I encountered in my last Neurocam assignment (the write-up is in my March 26 and March 27 posts). Her connection to Neurocam has never been explained...

I've had a pretty good look around her site and found a number of Neurocam parallels. I find it intriguing that both projects (if that's the right word...) seem to rely on the general public's response to billboards.

I also found this page hidden in the depths of the Shelley Innocence website. Very interesting indeed...

I wonder if Mr.Severus might be able to shed some light on the Neurocam/Innocence connection...

And so the Neurocam adventure continues... Just think, this all came out of my own response to a billboard... How different this blog would have been if I had never done so.

I promise to keep you up-to-date with any further Neurocam developments, but, in the mean time, I'd love to hear your thoughts on Innocence, Iocus, and the lack of contact from Robert Henley... Conspiracy theories are encouraged!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

A teaser!

You could be forgiven for assuming that my Neurocam adventures had ground to a halt. Over the last few months the number of posts in which Neurocam has received a mention has steadly declined. If you assumed, however, that this meant that there was nothing to report, then you were sadly mistaken.

The truth is that my search for the answers to "Neurocam" has been ongoing, and has mostly taken the form of some rather interesting e-mail correspondance.

For reasons which will become obvious, the details of this correspondance has had to remain unrevealed... Until now!

In my next post I'll be unveiling some very exciting Neurocam developments!

I don't have the time to do the issue justice today, but here's a teaser to tide you over:

"I do not fear Robert Henley. He is a man of little consequence, though from his position, in the Emerald City at the end of the yellow brick road, he might appear somewhat more significant. It would tickle me pink if Mr. Henley were apprised of the fact of a gatecrasher at his little party."

Intrigued? You should be...

Keep watching this space!

General Self-Promotion.

Not every breaks DJ can say they've been described by the genre's gurus The Plump DJs as "ahead of his time", but that's exactly the situation Paul Crossman (AKA General Midi) finds himself in.

It's a wonder then that he was willing to take a moment to talk to one of the little people (AKA Me!) about his origins, productions and future plans.

You can read the article here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Responses to my response.

My last post was quite an exhaustive (and at times rambling) response to Cyzilla posting the link to Nick Berg's beheading. Rambling or not, my post obviously touched a nerve with some of you as more than one person felt the need to respond. Although I am a bit pressed for time at the moment (yet another bump in!) I'd like to address some of the things that have been said.

Firstly I'd like to address something that Cyzilla said on his blog:

"Still, I think you are wrong Gra on one fundamental point. I don't have any experience in the military but as you know have had some close exposure to them for a good number of years. I'm not aware of any inculcation that goes on (in Western militaries, anyway) to engender disgust at one's enemy. Dehumanisation in a combat context, yes. But axiomatic disrespect and disgust, no. Look throughout history, across cultures, and you will find the concept of the honoured enemy. Honoured in battle, honoured when fallen, honoured when captured - though perhaps less of the latter in the Japanese/Samurai tradition"

Ok, fair's fair, I was probably speaking a little too generally when I stated that armies encourage soldies to feel disgust for their enemy. Maybe I should have been a little more specific and (as Cyzilla alluded to in his very next paragraph) referred only to the American army.

I'm prepared to accept that the American army probably doesn't try to train disgust into it's soldiers, but the fact is that, in the current political climate, it doesn't need to. You only need to look at the rhetoric of the country's leaders to realise that when the soldiers are being told that they are "either with us or against us", and that the army is being sent to fight not an enemy but an "axis of evil", it's not surprising that the soldiers have a very low opinion of their enemy. Mutual respect? I think not. "Evil" is a rather definitive word.

In his next paragraph Cyzilla also referred to the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and I'd like to expand on that slightly. The American Government has already stated that it does not believe that the detainees at Guantanamo are covered by the Geneva Convention (due to the fact that they are "unlawful combatants" not "enemy soldiers") and thus almost anything goes as far as interrogation techniques. Why would we be surprised then when these "Non-Geneva" techniques are used in Iraq? It's only logical that the American army would want it's best interrogators working in Iraq, and surely the most experienced interrogators would be those who had been honing their skills in Cuba...

I'd also like to touch on something that Jared said in a response to my post. Part of his e-mail reads:

"It's interesting to me that this clip is getting so much exposure. I know of at least two other clips on the web that show the real violent death of a person. So what makes this one different? Is it the Iraq/America context?Why are they showing it everywhere?

I think it's spin.

The US army is taking a bashing at the moment. The Jessica Lynch story turned out to be 90% fiction, the photos of mistreatment of Iraqi POWs by US soldiers are everywhere and the troops on the streets are taking a hammering.

How do you take the focus off the bad things you are doing? By showing that the other guys are just as bad or, better yet, worse. And that's what this video does. The whole thing is, quite possibly, a PR exercise and that's a really scary thought

The scary thought is that I suspect that Jared may be right on the money. I had similar concerns when I first saw the news story. Maybe I'm just a cynic, but it seems like everything is "spin" in some form or another nowadays, and from my experience in newsrooms there isn't any subject that is so taboo that the spin doctors won't give it a shot. Which begs the question - Why do WE let it be that way?

It's a commonly accepted fact that our elected leaders will try to "spin" any bad news. That our elected leaders will say whatever it takes to makes themselves look good. Even extreme right-wing supporters will tell you that they assume our politicians are mostly working in their own best interest. So why do we let them do it? They are only OUR elected leaders after all. Have we forgotten the meaning of the phrase "Public service"? Do we suffer from a kind of "battered wife syndrome" where we lie back and accept that our leaders deceive us, cheat on us, and occasionally bash us around a bit, but convince ourselves that it's all OK because deep down they must still love us?

Or is it just that we have become overly apathetic and that doing anything about all it just seems too hard?

I suspect that it's because we are no longer offered respectable, trustworthy, viable candidates at election time... We do our best to pick the "lesser of two evils" (there's THAT word again), and thus end up with the leaders WE DESERVE. What do you think?

Wow! This is starting to sound like a defeatist rant. So before it degenerates any further, I'll leave it there. Maybe I should turn off the News channel and start watching the sport instead - I seem to be less argumentative when the Ice Hockey is on.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Lifting The Veil.

In his most recent post (as of the time of my writing this) Cyzilla did something that has resulted in me being torn between thanking him profusely and hating him passionately.

By providing a link on his website to the footage of the beheading of American civilian Nick Berg Cyzilla presented me with a huge dilemma - Do I really need to see this? Or, more importantly, do I really need to be shown that reality?

Over the last two weeks a veil has been lifted on some of what is occurring in Iraq. The Prisoner Abuse photos and the footage of Nick Berg's beheading have brought home the reality of what occurs during a time of war... Or, more precisely, what is happening somewhere in the world at almost any given moment...

I suspect that it's been very easy for many people to forget that during a war-like situation (which, considering Bush has said the war is "over", seems the best way to describe Iraq) REAL PEOPLE end up getting hurt and killed. Real people like yourselves, your families, your friends, your neighbours, and so on. When atrocities like those we've seen in the media recently are revealed however, it becomes very hard to turn a blind eye to that reality.

So I can't help but think it's a good thing that these events have become public!

I believe that, whether it's been intentional or not, the western media (I can't comment on the Eastern media as I have been exposed to very little of it) often feels the need to sanitise what the public see. Conspiracy theories aside, I think that they do this with the best of intentions - to protect us from some of the harsh realities that become apparent when groups of (or even individual) human beings decide to use violence to advance their goals.

As a result I think that many of us (myself included) have an extremely sanitised perception of world events.

George Bush has stated that he was "shocked" to learn what American soldiers had been up to at Abu Ghraib jail. Now, forgetting for a moment that the Red Cross apparently had reports of similar abuses as early as June last year, let's assume that George Bush and co honestly had no idea that this sort of thing was going on. Sure they may have started a war with a particular goal in mind (any goal - take your pick!) but were they really aware of the reality of that war?

I suspect not.

Bush and his cronies are all upper income priviledged Americans and very few have them have ever come close to be being in the front-lines of a war (sorry, war-like situation). They, like myself, have probably only been exposed to a mostly sanitised version of what goes on. Maybe it takes events like these to bring home some of what goes on in a warzone. If so, then it's GOOD that these events are finally making the media, leaders who send troops into battle should be under no illusion as to what may occur. Nor should the populations that elect these leaders be under any illusion as to what their leader's decisions can result in.

I know that some people will argue that "those American troops weren't acting on orders, it's not the leaders fault", but that doesn't hold. Part of the core training an army gives it's soldiers is how to de-humanise the enemy (it's very hard to kill people you empathise with). If the American training is any good than it shouldn't be surprising that this sort of thing has occurred. Why would you care about the well-being of your prisoners when you're being told day in, day out that they are only the enemy and thus worthy only of your disgust? I would suggest that the actions of the American soldiers, whilst perhaps not arising from explicit orders, originate directly from the culture and attitude that the army encourages.

And, opening a HUGE can of worms, that's just how it SHOULD be.

What is an army? An army (in my opinion) is a group of paid killers that a government keeps on hand for when things get rough. An army is how a country keeps it's citizens safe, protects itself from invasion and how it stops itself from being beat up and having it's lunch money stolen in the global playground. It makes sense then, that an army should consist of people that are willing to kill without compunction, maim without question and do whatever else it takes to ensure that the country is kept safe. An army is a tool of violence which should be used when NO OTHER ACCEPTABLE AVENUE is available. And this (finally) begins to bring me around to my point.

I suspect that there hasn't ever been a war in history where atrocities haven't been committed by BOTH sides. That's the way war works. The price we pay. Neither we (nor our leaders) should be under any illusion about that price. Any leaders making the decision to use violence, whether it be in the form of any army or not, should be prepared to pay that price. And, it may surprise you to learn, I think that there'll be times when that price will be worth paying.

I'm not trying to condone the actions of either side. Instead I'm saying that, by making these events and images public, the true price of war and it's associated violence has become more of a reality for many of us. For that I am actually grateful. The more we understand the price of violence, the harder we'll think before we resort to using it. This may be one of the true gifts of the internet. If nobody is prepared to pay the price of violence, then violence will not occur.

As much as I am disgusted by the images I have been exposed to over the last few weeks, I am glad that some of my personal illusions have been shattered. I hope that we'll all continue to be shown the reality of violence, because it's only once we're fully aware of it's price that we'll be truly able (as an entire race) to decide whether or not it's a price we're prepared to pay.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Amateur Dream Analysis.

Ok, it's time for everybody to put on their best dream expert caps and try their hand at analysing the extremely vivid dream that I had two nights ago.

It began with me standing beside a picturesque mountain stream. You know the type of thing - lots of green, blue skies, birds softly singing.... The standard picturesque mountain stream.

It soon became apparent that I saw putting something into the stream. As the dream came into focus it turned out that I was releasing baby crocodiles.

There was a problem though. Everytime I released a baby crocodile it would swim for a couple of metres and then shrivel up and die. Perturbed (and a little confused), I would then release another crocodile which would do exactly the same thing.

At around this point in the dream a horse arrived at the stream. There was nothing special about it, it was just a horse. The horse kept nuzzling next to me as if trying to tell me something. Intent on continuing my "releasing crocodiles so they could die" mission I chased the horse away.

Eventually, however, I ran out of crocodiles.

Annoyed, I started kicking at the dirt on the bank of the river. I kicked over one particular rock and then suddenly lava started to flow out of the ground. The picturesque stream quickly turned into a river of molten rock.

It was then that I realised my bag was sitting on the other side of the stream. Amazingly I was able to run across the lava (in the way that some people walk across hot coals) so that I could get my bag.

It was at this point that I woke up.

So, what does it mean?

I've got some ideas, but considering that it was such a vivid dream I thought it might be fun to see what everybody else came up with.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Good News.

2xx is back on the air!

But they still need your support.

I know that I'm probably preaching to the converted, but, even if you're don't listen to it, a community-based radio station is an essential part of Canberra's culture. Don't let it go under just because people take it for granted.

Here endth the sermon.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

A Call To Arms....

and legs, and heads, and anything else you might feel like bringing along...

I got an important e-mail from Calico today and I thought I'd better re-print it in it's entirerity:

Hey Guys,

Not sure if you've heard, but 2XX 98.3 FM was switched off the air yesterday. The station is desperately short of funds and requires urgent
help from listeners, subscribers and supporters to get back on the air.

If you're interested in having an alternative voice on the air in Canberra- whether that's for music, news, arts, or whatever - then it's really essential that we act quickly.

Please call the station on 62 300 100 for donations.

And come down to the Toast Bar (above Electric Shadows cinema in Civic) for the massive 2XX FM Fundraiser on May 15th at Toast.

DJ SOUP (Sydney), $2 Scratchies (Mexi vs Nathan), Bec Paton, Vance Musgrove, Evilchris (Live), Mystral Tide (Live), Mikah Freeman, Calico, Know-1 (Live), Kimmo Vennonen (Live), Typhonic vs Rookie One, The Grandson, Urban Atmospherics (Live), VJs Scotch Fingers & Michael Ascroft, and stencils from Shunji's sister Hana Davies.

Just 12 dollars entry (8 if you're a subscriber). free pool all night, free arcade games, and a top shelf mix of music from some of the ACT's best.

So listen up all you Canberrites! Whether you listened to 2xx or not it's essential that Canberra has some form of Public Radio Station. 2xx has been an essential part of the Canberra Arts, Music, Social scene for ages and it'd be a shame to see it go under.

Please do what ever you can to assist them in their time of need.


Monday, May 03, 2004


I'm having issues with headlines today...

I can't understand why news agencies tend to run with misleading (or downright wrong!) headlines... Yeah the articles may be right, but (and here's something I've said before) many people only get their news via the headlines... The sum of their knowledge of world events garnered from the headlines they see around them.

There were two headlines in particular that grabbed my attention today.

The first comes from Reuters:

"Nine US troops die in American Hostage Free"

Pardon me? What's wrong with this picture? Well apart from the awful grammar, they've managed to combine two events that ARE NOT RELATED! Yes nine US troops died in Iraq, and yes the American hostage is free, but these things did NOT occur as part of the same instant. Of course that fact becomes obvious when you read the article, but how many people will only read the headline and assume that nine US troops died freeing the American hostage?

The second headline I took offence to was from the publicity sheet/headline of The Australian:

"Exclusive: More money for ASIO in budget"

Well Duh! Is it really an exclusive when it's so utterly predictable that anybody with half a braincell would have foretold it?

Arrrrrgggghhhhh! Hear my pain? Does this sort of thing bother anybody else? Am I alone? Am I just being a grumpy bugger?

Sunday, May 02, 2004


* Broken watch (stopped)

* Broken shoe-lace (snapped)

* Broken lamp (blown)

* Broken CD (scratched)

* Broken book (page ripped by accident)

I can't help but wonder what else might be going to brake this weekend...