Saturday, May 28, 2011


In preparation for listing the highest peaks I had a peek at the Everest stats. Quite apart from the academic exercise, it made me realise just how formidable conditions are that far up. Wikipedia contributor has braved the elements and brought back a guide to the different features, not to say hazards.

It seems that if you die on this mountain, you get left there, and bodies of those who've perished can still be viewed as you make your ascent. This may contradict the opinion of those who feel that mountain climbing these days has become a doddle.

Mount Everest/
Sagarmatha /

Godwin Austen




Cho Oyu 

Dhaulagiri I


Nanga Parbat

Annapurna I

Gasherbrum I

Broad Peak

Gasherbrum II


Gyachung Kang

Gasherbrum III

Annapurna II

Gasherbrum IV

Mahalangur Himalaya is a range that achieves great heights, and also up where the air is thin, Baltoro Karakoram and various other parts of the Himalayas such as Kangchenjunga Himalaya, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu and more.

My arbitrary cut-off - over a hundred of the highest peaks are all in this Asian region - was at those mountains over twenty six thousand feet above sea level.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Watched Stateline on Friday night and learnt that twelve and fourteen year olds with a family history of mental illness shouldn't smoke dope. It was quite a specific message but one too subtle for the panel assembled.

Perhaps the broad focus of the program dictated that there was little time to compare the effect of beginning the consumption of alcohol at 14 when you have a family history of mental illness. Or alcoholism.
Perhaps there was no time to consider the effect of a 12 year old smoking cigarettes when he or she has the cancer gene.
And maybe there was no time to compare the effects of an early introduction to valium or ADD drugs on the growing mind.

But a quick wrap-up could have accomplished something in the way of avoiding the impression that this was a grossly one-sided beat up of the kind that the media usually deliver on this subject. Not really to the standard of ABC journalism anyway.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mount: a search

These are the longest mountain ranges in the world but there are many many more, from Alborz in Iran to the Zillertal Alps, it would take as long to list them as it would to cross them so, intriguing as the Titiwangsa Mountains in Malaysia might sound, I'm climbing back down.

Saturday, May 07, 2011


[with apologies to Melanie]

Look what they done to USA ma
Look what they done to USA
code orange nightmares
for some patriot act

Cleaning up consciences
after the act

Look what they done to USA

Look what they done to USA ma
Look what they done to USA

war profiteering in some other clime
here's what they do what you do for crime
Look what they done to USA

Look what they done to USAMA
said they thought he'd be wearing body armour
underneath his fucking pyjamas
Look what they done to Usama mama

Buried him out at sea
Far away from you and me

The bulletholes keep changing
the spouses rearranging
the amount of resistance
and just the insistence
that the world is better
now that bin Laden is gone

Look what they done to Obama mama
His peace is written in swift killing
His demograph is God willing
Look what they done to Obama


They pulled apart the seams
of his hope and change
 of father's dreams

"He tried to kill my Daddy"

So look what they done to Saddam mama
Sold him the hoist for his own petard
Hung him out to dry on the boulevard
Look what they done to old Saddam

And look what they done to USAma
Look what they done to USAma
Intelligence feared the blurring of lines
in the names and the games and the small confines
Look what they done to USAma

If it's all Osama to U

As an armchair anarchist I've always felt one remove from the chardonnay socialists in the adjoining room. We care about the environment and we take science seriously, we like to be well informed and we wonder at all this talk of avoidance, we can focus on more than one thing at once and we're prepared to have our assumptions questioned as long as it's done with finesse.

We like much of the same popular culture we find ourselves immersed in and we tut tut at much of the same corruption and excess we see in the next part of the conversation. Neither are we blind to the faults of those whose views we share.

But sometimes my fellow lefties leave me slightly puzzled, if at nothing else than the way they stink of liberal; small l liberal.

Here's the man who has engendered such sympathy on his untimely (??????????) demise, responsible for:

  • post-9/11 the whole series of rules and regulations; the highly regulated, not to say spooked, society we live in. The way Y2K was a false alarm but was well and truly replaced in the western conscience by 9/11 and all that would follow.
  • a successful strike on all of the United States of America's key 'targets'
  • a raving misogynist swine
  • a millionaire who had a problem with the wealth of opposing ideologies or is that the wealth inherent in another ideology i.e. a hypocrite
  • set the scene for racial profiling, Guantanamo Bay, burning of holy book, innocents being caught up in the fray in one way or another
  • abused the hospitality of his faith and his one time allies
  • abused his brilliance and skill as a strategic mastermind for evil
  • ensured that the twenty first century would revive atrocities committed on fellow humans despite and gains and understanding we may have made through our technology and our increased knowledge of global events
  • lived his life celebrating death and reveling in bringing destruction down on those he classed his enemies. Where others wrote angry letters to the paper, this leader shattered lives. Through his machinations he struck down bog ordinary people trying to pay their mortgage and halfway enjoy their weekends. People who had no particular interest in persecuting other religions or cultures, much less the power to do so. The bravest and best of the municipality were killed and sickened by their efforts to save office workers from his murderous work
  • had the influence and ability to do so much good in the world but chose to pervert this so that it became the complete opposite
  • encouraged fear and mistrust across the East West divide
  • imagined that fucking up the world more than it was already was doing God's will and encouraged others to believe the same
I hadn't thought about it until it happened but the death of Osama bin Laden has survived his watery grave; his ability to sow discord will long outlast him, his compound a shrine, the circumstances of his death causing instantaneous conspiracies to sprout.

 Nutjobs come out of the woodwork to conjecture on the passing of one of their own. Everything from 'he wasn't responsible for flying domestic airplanes into buildings' to 'he didn't exist - he was a mythical figure used to justify the invasion of the Middle East'. Now I know there are no shortage of conspiracy theorists on both sides of the divide but I don't necessarily believe there's a need to give them much credence when planning commando raids.

 The SEALS who've been briefed know only that those al Qaeda broadcasts were real, the act was real, and the threat is still very real. Let's face it, a combat operative who applied any of the theories that sprang up from 9/11 would be doomed to failure.

 As would anyone contemplating the involvement of the country that housed his stronghold lo this decade past.

 There are some things that have to be conducted not by intellectuals, pacifists, and moral philosophers but by battle trained hardarses, and the conquest of the world's number one terrorists is the prime example. Could bin Laden have been dissuaded by theological point scoring or superior logic? Would he have strayed from his vengeance on - us, basically - if we could only have got some folk singer flown in to his hideout? Would a spot of rehabilitation cure his attitude and would that make up for all his sins?

 No, now it's you who've discovered the compound, staked it out, got the heads of operation watching, got the fate of the free world in your sweaty palm.
You've been told that he could turn suicidal if cornered and what reason to doubt - it's his fucking M.O.
 Not only could be be wired to blow but there's a fair chance that there are others who will make your passage out problematic unless you take the most drastic course of action possible You know those stories where the fight goes out of the foe when their leader is felled? This is that in real life.

 Those movies where it's burst through the roof and start firing? Maybe wait a nanosecond to see whether one of the most unlikely men on the planet to surrender might be in the mood to do so

 As the chopper blades or the oxy through the roofing herald your coming your first thoughts are of risking your life and your mission in order to capture the guy alive. You won't be like those Italian peasants who strung up Mr and Mrs Mussolini, nor will you run in and shoot to kill like they did the Ceaecescus. You won't callously throw the body of a revolutionary commander on the bonfire when he carks it like the Khmer Rouge did with Pol Pot's corpse, or take it to study as the Soviets did with Hitler's remains. You'll be better than your enemy and pray they meet you halfway.



 I was gratified to see that the one silky thread of noughties paranoia was held up at the end, a screenshot of the terrorist website showing that Usama bin Laden was marked as deceased.