From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.

 


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Bullshit travels faster than light

27 July 2000

"Says here that physicists at Princeton University have got light to travel faster than the speed of light", said Joadja.

She poked a tattered copy of the Herald under my snout. The front page was dominated by a large pic of an elderly drag queen in a hot pink suit and a huge pink hat garnished with pink ostrich feathers. According to the caption this was the Queen Mother celebrating her 100th birthday, after outliving even Barbara Cartland. How the English have the gall to laugh patronisingly at Dame Edna Everedge is beyond me.

Einstein peered mournfully out of the bottom of the page, decorating an article which announced that the speed-of-light barrier had been broken. Jesus wept, I thought, somebody reckons they've done what's probably never been done anywhere, at any time since the Big Bang, and the Herald runs it at the bottom of a front page where they lead with "Tax chief's despair over rorts" – which is a headline any newspaper anywhere could have run at any time in recorded history.

The speed-of-light story got fewer column centimetres than the Queen Mother in a fright suit. It was given less prominence than a giant pic of Ian Thorp on page three, gazing soulfully upwards in the heroic pose popular with Battle of Britain fighter pilots. Is this what they pay Paul McGeough for? Is this what we get for letting the Bog Irish run the newspaper of record?

It just goes to prove how human-centric humans are. If this yarn isn't some ghastly bit of scientific self-delusion, like the notorious Cold Fusion affair, it's the biggest story in the history of the universe. In the future, people ought to remember exactly where they were when they first heard that light could travel faster than light – the same way old codgers can remember where they were when they heard that John Kennedy had been shot, or Gough Whitlam dismissed.

"Holy Mother of Darwin", I muttered after I scanned through the story, "Do you realise what this means? In principle, you could travel backwards in time. You could witness the Kennedy assassination – go back to Dealey Plaza on the 22 November 1963 to see whether there really was a gunman on the grassy knoll ... or go back to 1975 and dangle a whiskey bottle in front of John Kerr so he'd have been too pissed to dismiss Gough."

"... Or we could stand outside the Howard residence on the night John was conceived chanting 'Don't do it Mrs Howard! Don't do it! Cross your legs, Mrs Howard!" Jo giggled. "But you're getting this thing all out of proportion, Nick. It's nothing new. Bullshit has always moved faster than light. Just this week there's been Star Wars and Starbucks"

"Huh?"

"Well, there's this dangerous nonsense about anti-missile shields that the US military have started pushing again. Even old Malcolm Fraser reckons we should show some spine and oppose it. And then there's Natasha Stott-Despodja opening the first Starbucks."

"Yeah, that took my breath away", I replied. "The Democrats put themselves forward as the party of small business and there she is opening the first Starbucks, and telling everybody how environmentally sensitive they are. I mean, Starbucks are the McDonald's of coffee!"

"Hang on! We can make a motza out of this. All we gotta do is find a really big source of bullshit and then focus the bullshit in the one direction and we've got the legendary hyperdrive engine! It'll power the exploration of the galaxy! You hit the internet and hire some physicists and I'll write the business plan."

And that's how we got into partnership with Federal Parliament Inc.