Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot! "

"Maya: How it's a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing; how the sun was shining; if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it's an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I'd opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it's constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks, like your '61. And then it begins its steady, inevitable decline."

Sideways - 2004


If there is one thing the French know how to do properly, it would have to be wine. Well Champagne, cognac and armagnac too, but as for your basic fermented grape juice, there are some remarkable French wines. After making wines in Bordeaux for 2000 years, it is pretty much down to a fine art these days.

When I think back to varsity and all the Tassies we drank by the liter, I have to wonder how we ever managed to consider Stellenbosch Farmer's Wineries top selling product as wine. Ok, Ok, it was cheap. And after all, it wasn't complete rotgut.

What with a bottle of Petrus trading around $1000, cheap is good. That's why I've enjoyed helping Charlie Skipwith of www.glug-glug.com. He knows where to find plenty of great wines in and around Bordeaux and the greater South-West region of France at a very good price.

At the moment he is only shipping to the United Kingdom, where he organizes tastings on a regular basis, which I highly recommend. If you ever go to a tasting, don't forget to tell him I sent you.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Is that you John Wayne?

Freud called it "Das Unheimlich", The Uncanny in the sense of fear, dread and horror.

Yip. Fear, dread and Horror.

That's the uncanny feeling I have at the moment, at the thought that Team America is gearing up for their next target, Iran. There are countless articles circulating on the net at the moment as to the why, when and how, but one of the most succinct and relevant pieces, comes from John Pilger:

"Iran offers no "nuclear threat". There is not the slightest evidence that it has the centrifuges necessary to enrich uranium to weapons-grade material. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, has repeatedly said his inspectors have found nothing to support American and Israeli claims. Iran has done nothing illegal; it has demonstrated no territorial ambitions nor has it engaged in the occupation of a foreign country - unlike the United States, Britain and Israel. It has complied with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to allow inspectors to "go anywhere and see anything" - unlike the US and Israel. The latter has refused to recognise the NPT, and has between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons targeted at Iran and other Middle Eastern states." More...

This issue is patently not a nuclear issue, because if it was we would actually be talking about Pakistan or Israel, not Iran. In fact Pakistan is a far more dodgy entity than Iran. General Musharev seized power in a military coup under highly dubious circumstances that have never had the light shone on them by the international community. And with the absurd twisted logic that passes for American Foreign Policy, the General is considered an ally in the pursuit of freedom and democracy ?!?

Come on please people, get real! How about at least trying to be consistent? Nope, too much to ask for. So what happens if, as these things do, the old General is displaced from his perch by a team more extremist in their views, with a different disposition towards the West and their finger on the nuclear trigger... eh?

Yes. Ok Now. The issue is not the nukes, it's not about the "War of Error", or any other publicly proclaimed reason. It's about resource control, the Oil and how it is distributed. It is fascinating to read about Iran's plans for an Oil Bourse which makes perfect sense for them. In fact I've always believed that South African gold and platinum should be priced and sold in Rands on a South African Metals Exchange, not having the price set by some pinhead in London in dollar amounts. Yip, that would bring the cruise missiles raining down on Sandton. But seriously, why is gold priced in dollars?? How many ounces were produced in the US in 2005? Who needs the dollar outside of the US anymore - you'd just be holding a piece of an $8 Trillion debt, and who wants that?

So the economics of it all do seem to be driving the process. The IAEA members rolled over last Saturday (I hope they get all the goodies they were promised) and off to the UNSC we go. That'll be what, early March? Another month of behind the scenes bribery, bullying and ass-licking gets us to another round-table where we already know what the basic outcome will be. Whether anyone has the balls to veto anything remains to be seen, but we pretty much can guess that either John Wayne style or by some goofy coalition there will be some sort of unattainable ultimatum issued to Iran.

This should be around mid-March or so. With the planned Bourse to open around the 20th and the Israeli Elections scheduled for the 28th, we are looking at a window of 3 or 4 weeks from the 15th of March onwards. What will happen during that window?

Well, the gameplan is shaping up with air strikes against Iran by the US and /or the Israelis. You can pretty much bet your bottom dollar that targets will not be purely "nuclear" sites. That already gives lie to all the current hubris about Iran wanting nukes. Nope, without a doubt other "strategic targets" will get hit to maximize the first strike; command and control sites, air defense sites, runways, telecoms, power stations and public toilets. In other words this is not going to be a "Police Action", this is very much about a first strike to degrade the Iranian response, which seems to be another sure bet. A couple less eyes later and a whole lot more blindness going on, things are going to be messy whichever way you slice it.

So the question arises, will there be a full-blown invasion? The air campaign, could last anywhere between 2 and 6 weeks, which considering Iran hasn't been pulverized by 12 years of bombing like Iraq was, it may actually take longer. One doubts that Team America would commit ground troops without a slight case of overbombing first.

One needs to bear in mind that US Military Doctrine has maintained for a long time that the US needs to be prepared to fight full-scale combat in two theatres simultaneously. So when one hears about how bogged down in Iraqi the military is and how badly they are coping, one needs to have a pinch of salt handy. If Team America wants to go into Iran, then they will. They do have the wherewithal, they just need the desire. Or order, to be more specific.

If there is going to be a ground offensive, I doubt that it will be a march all the way to Tehran to set up a western style democracy. As this article points out, there is only a section of Iran that is of any real interest, Khuzestan. Yip I hadn't heard of it before either, but trust me, you will be hearing a lot more about it. Click here for a map. Apparently this is the piece of Iran that Saddam went after for 8 years in the Iran-Iraq war, the war in which he was egged on by Team America.

Das Unheimlich. I feel it and it makes me sick.

OK Now.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

2245 Dead. How many more?

That's what Cindy Sheehan's T-shirt said. It's also the big gaping hole in 99% of the media reports that should have been reported.

Can you arrest the truth?

More power to Cindy.

File under "Stupid Doos" category

Just when you thought Cultural Relativism was dying a cold and lonely death in obscurity, along comes some doos to remind one that Cultural Relativism is alive and kicking.

By way of example, let's start with some basic vocabulary. The French word "Con" translates literally as "cunt", but is also used to refer to stupidity and thickness. Interestly, the Afrikaans word "Doos" has as it's literal translation, "box" or "cunt", but is used extensively in the context of stupidity and thickness. So far so good.

Then you get to the real world. Take for instance, the French newspaper France Soir, that goes ahead and publishes a series of cartoons that have already been causing shit around the world:

"PARIS (Reuters) - A French newspaper reprinted on Wednesday a series of 12 Danish newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad that have sparked protests in the Muslim world and prompted Saudi Arabia to recall its ambassador from Denmark." More...

What kind of prime doos, or if you are French, 'quel con' goes ahead and publishes cartoons that have already caused an uproar? Considering that in France there are strict laws against publishing tracts that are considered anti-semetic or questioning of the jewish holocaust, it does appear as though there might another agenda being pushed here, other than just trying to boost sales (as the article notes, there are financial difficulties involved).

The point? In France "freedom of expression" is restricted, presumably to prevent contentious statements from being published, to avoid conflict and all the other reasons why people promote the restrictions on free speech. Besides this doos having the cultural sensitivity of a bull in a china shop, this is not about the right to publish whatever you want, its about the fact that we live on this planet and have to go along to get along. He really should have left well enough alone.