Here is a thought, when the first mother of our species was ‘created’, it was done so by the accumulation of trillions of atoms to form a ‘mass’ that is a human mammal with all the operational functions that we think of as making us distinctively human.
In order to understand how we humans came to be, first we have to understand exactly what ‘mass’ is and what is involved in the mechanics of forming it. I will start with our solar system, I could keep going out further but our own solar system is far enough to make a point. So we start with the biggest bit of mass in our solar system which is of course… you in the back row! yes you! daydreaming??? what is the biggest object of mass in the solar system? The sun? Yes of course it is the sun. Then we step down then to Jupiter the next biggest bit of mass, skip over a couple and make your way down to earth, and within earth we have rocks. And what is all this mass made up of? It is all molecules and they all work as a team to form a mass of something. And so it is with every lump of mass in the solar system, from rocks to planets to a sun, everything of mass has a molecular structure. For perspective, about 45 billion, billion molecules would make an object the size of a dice.
But what makes up molecules? Well that, of course, is our old friend the atom. The ancient Greek philosopher Democritus first theorised that all matter would continually be divisible until it gets down to a point where it could no longer be divisible and that point he called an atom. Atom literally means indivisible. It was the invention of the cathode ray tube in the 1890’s that enabled physicist, JJ Thomson, to ‘see’ the effect caused by an atom within the beam of light and in his experiments he identified the electron, the negatively charged cloud within the atom.
The cathode ray tube is what enabled the creation of television, which is the transfer of particles to enable us to see in one location what is happening in another location. It is interesting to note the 1926 prophesy of famous inventor Nikola Tesla:
“When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles, and the instruments through which we shall be able to do all of this, will fit in our vest pockets”.
Here he accurately predicted the cellphone but also identified that the earth is simply a huge brain that can enable communication between all the particles that make it up. In fact this same description can be applied to the whole universe.
The fact that all atoms are cloaked with the negative energy charge that we call an electron is the reason we cannot walk through a brick wall. Like forces repel each other as any kid playing with a magnet knows. So it is when your negatively charged atoms try to walk through the negatively charged atoms that are the brick wall. And if the wall has trillions more atoms bonded together than your body, because different chemical elements contain different numbers of protons, neutrons and electrons, then you are flat on your arse with a lump on your head.
Our own Ernest Rutherford worked out that there was more to an atom than just this negatively charged electron. And so with experiments he identified a nucleus within the atom. It wasn’t easy to spot because atoms are not big things. I am reliably informed that about a million of them standing one behind the other would bridge the width of a needle. And if we then imagine the atom as the size of a basketball, the nucleus would be the size of a marble inside it (about 1:1000).
Following on from that he eventually found the proton, the little positive charge housed within the nucleus. He named it ‘proton’ after the Greek word ‘protos’ meaning ‘first’.
Rutherford then discovered that he could disintegrate the nuclei of nitrogen atoms by firing particles from a radioactive source which, in turn, resulted in the release of fast protons. This was the first ever artificially-induced nuclear reaction, a breakthrough that would lead ultimately to nuclear power and the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. But while smashing atoms into each other may change the structure of the atom, he did not end up with two half-atoms split down the middle as the common language would imply. An atom does not die, it always was and always will be.
In 1932 an English physicist, James Chadwick, identified the neutron, the neutral particle within the nucleus and finally we had the trinity of energy that makes up the one atom; the positive, the neutral and the negative, like the red, green and black wires in the cord that turns on our light.
Moving onwards to us humans, as well as other animals and living plants, and we discover that after our atoms sort themselves out into the appropriate molecular structures (seven billion billion billion molecules make up a 70kg human; so I am probably a tad over 7 billion billion billion). Of this, almost 2/3 is hydrogen, 1/4 is oxygen, and about 1/10 is carbon. These three molecular structures add up to 99% of the total human. The molecules then co-operate to create cells, over 30 trillion of them in fact (although again I might be a tad over that).
So how do all these atoms, molecules and cells actually cohabit within a body in a way that does not create chaotic collisions everywhere? Communication. It is what makes the world go round. Just as humans walking down the street by intuitive cooperation and unspoken signals of communication do not continually bump into each other, so too quantrillions of atoms have a communication system that allows them to co-operate harmoniously and creatively avoiding bumping into each other; and they create more communication systems within the molecules and cells that they create.
Once all the required cells have produced a mammal such as Eve, a few of them form into a pea sized gland called the pineal and happily nestle between the two hemispheres of her brain. In fact this is the first gland to be created in the human body after initial conception. You may recall an earlier blog where I wrote about the cultural and religious significance we have historically given to this tiny, pine-shaped gland. I concluded that this little gland may in fact be our human router connecting our PC (brain) to the universal internet. Do we have a built in universal wi-fi? If so is it this wi-fi that connects us with all other groups of atoms also connected (other humans and mammals) by their pineal router and enables us to co-operate, avoid bumping into each other and live in harmony (unless our ambition or hunger overrides such harmony)?
When you ask a physicist to describe an atom he or she will tell you:
- It is invisible to the eye. We can only perceive its existence by its effect on things we can see.
- It is three elements in one.
- It is eternal. It had no beginning and has no end.
- It is all-powerful. It creates the universe and everything in it.
- It exists everywhere. There is nowhere that the atom is not present.
I was raised in Christian schools my entire school life. I know by heart the Christian theologian’s description of God. It is as above, word for word.
Einstein was once asked what it was like to be the smartest man on earth. He replied, “I don’t know, go and ask Nikola Tesla.”
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) just never sustained the level of public acknowledgement that Einstein has, and that was probably all down to hairstyle. In the world of marketing, Einstein just looks like a crazy genius. He is memorable. So much so that I don’t need to put up his image here, it is one of the most recognisable profiles in the modern world. That is why Doc Brown in the “Back to the future” movie series was made up as an Einstein lookalike. And Einstein developed a pithy little E=MC Squared catch-cry. Hardly anyone knew what he meant, but it sounded good and it became a byline for genius.
On the other hand, Tesla just looks like any ordinary, slightly dapper, man on the street in the late 19th/ early 20th century. Whereas Einstein developed theories about space and time, about gravity in the universe, Tesla harnessed the dynamics of vibrations in the atmosphere. Following the scientific experiments of the Scot, James Maxwell, and the German physicist Heinrich Hertz during which invisible waves were generated by electromagnetic interactions, Tesla was the man who could grasp these experiments and transfer the technology to highly advanced practical use. But while Tesla did not get the academic recognition of Einstein, he also did not get the commercial success of Guglielmo Marconi. Marconi was credited with the invention of the radio receiver/ transmitter in Italy in 1895 at only age 21 and was granted the patent for wireless technology for which he was awarded a Nobel prize and from which he continued his wealthy family’s fortunes. However Marconi’s patent was subsequently overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1943 (six months after Tesla’s death) when it was proven Tesla had invented a radio transmitter/ receiver prior to Marconi and presented it during a demonstration to the National Light Association two years earlier in 1893.
Tesla is also responsible for developing the laser beam and recognising the potential for this technology in developing particle beam weapons of such mass destruction that he believed their invention would end war through fear of mutual annihilation. In 1918 Tesla is reported to have directed a laser beam to the moon. His work on particle beam weapons can be traced all the way back to 1893 with his invention of a button lamp, which had all the components necessary to create a laser beam; and to his work with X Rays when, in 1896, Tesla was photographing X-rays over distances up to 40 feet. Tesla was also involved in experiments with shooting cathode rays at targets. The laser beam has had the most profound impact on our technology today, from precision medical equipment at the positive end to precision military equipment at the other end.
Tesla introduced the game-changing use of alternating current power supply into his inventions when the corporate world was still totally fixated on Edison’s direct current power supply. In 1930 he invented a motor with rotating magnetic fields, widely used in household appliances, power tools, disk drives, electric wristwatches industrial machines and compressors. Corporate and government interests were certainly not interested in an alternative to oil powered vehicles at that time.
Today, of course, the new technology of electric cars owes its development to Nikola Tesla. The Tesla motor company that has pioneered high performance electric cars, is named in his honour because they recognised that without Tesla’s vision and brilliance in creating the induction motor with alternating-current (AC) power transmission their car would not be possible. Tesla Inc also specialise in energy storage and solar panels.
Nikola Tesla died alone in his hotel room, in New York, in 1943, in debt. His limelight extinguished, his audience moved on. Despite his lack of academic fame and commercial fortune, Tesla is the man who had a vision of a future with intelligent cars, robotic human companions, the use of sensors and autonomous systems all came about because he understood, in a very practical way, the invisible vibrations in the universe. But, just as he recognised his ability to harness these vibrations to remotely control a boat on a lake or a beam of light into space, Tesla recognised that we humans are also being controlled by these same vibrations in the universe. “The human being is a self-propelled automaton entirely under the control of external influences. Wilful and predetermined though they appear, his actions are governed not from within, but from without. He is like a float tossed about by the waves of a turbulent sea.”
In 1942, a year before his death, Tesla said “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” The flow of waves of energy at different levels of frequency and vibration have been shown to effect all nature, including humans, in a very practical way. The joyful birdsong at dawn is a high frequency sound, around 5,000 herts. It is a sound that awakens and energises nature for the coming day. Experiments have shown that plants showed a 700 percent increase in efficiency of absorbing nutrients when exposed to high frequency classical music. This frequency actually helps the little pores on the plant’s leaves called stomata to open up. So lots of birds with high frequency bird song mean lots of plants.
Compare the dawn birdsong at 5000 hz with the frog croak at night of 250-500 hz. With music in 120-125 hertz range you begin to hear the kick drums and bass guitar. These lower frequencies produce an energy-draining effect and they are actually felt as well as heard. The lowest frequency sound waves are called infrasound. They’re produced by machines such as motors, household appliances, air conditioning systems. Again studies have shown that these low frequency waves can cause symptoms such as nausea, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, vibration of internal organs and a feeling of oppression.
Solfeggio frequencies were sound frequencies used in Gregorian chants to alter the state of mind of those chanting. These are the six Solfeggio frequencies:
UT – 396 Hz – Liberating Guilt and Fear
RE – 417 Hz – Undoing Situations and Facilitating Change
MI – 528 Hz – Transformation and Miracles (This is the exact frequency used by genetic biochemists to repair broken DNA – the genetic blueprint upon which life is based!)
FA – 639 Hz – Connecting/Relationships
SOL – 741 Hz – Awakening Intuition
LA – 852 Hz – Returning to Spiritual Order
A 7th note has been added to the modern music scale in the form of a “TI,” as in the “DO, RE, MI, FA, SO, LA, TI” vocal scale. The whole music scale provides a balance of energy, raising and lowering it. Awakening and resting in a natural cycle. Over-exposure to one end or the other will have a significant impact on the human mood, energy and stress levels. Whether it is the constant high energy vibrations exposure to electronica dance parties when nature is saying it is sleep time or the constant low energy throb of machines during the day when you should be awake and alert, both upset the balance of nature. Note the changes in your physical and emotional state when you are, for example, exposed to long periods of a high pitched dentist’s drill or the thud of a jack hammer on road works or even the drone of an aircraft engine over a long flight. Harmony with nature requires that all nature, including humans, is in cyclical sync with the universal waves of raising and lowering energy levels in a wave pattern.
Homo Sapiens might have evolved as the most intelligent species on the planet, but when it comes to our sense of atmospheric vibration, we have our limitations:
Audio: Humans can hear sound at frequencies from as low as 20hz up to about 23,000 Hz. However many animals can also hear ultrasonic frequencies. Dogs hear sounds up to 45,000 Hz and cats up to about 64,000 Hz. But beyond 23,000 hz, humans may as well be deaf. If an alien civilisation is trying to contact us above 23,000 hz, they are wasting their time. The sound is actually there, in the atmosphere, but either our eardrum cannot detect such high vibrations, or the signals from there to the brain are simply discarded for our own safety. Or perhaps because such sounds are cosmically on a ‘need to know basis’ and are considered above humans’ pay grade. If there is contact by clairvoyants with the deceased then it would probably occur because they can sense vibrations below 20hz. In the 1930’s another unacknowledged (or ‘discredited’) scientist claimed he was selectively and successfully destroying cancer tumours in humans using only sound frequencies. His name was Royal Rife and, following in the footsteps of Tesla, he built a microscope so powerful that he could watch cells move and discovered that all cells have their own unique vibration frequency. By using a generator set at that same frequency he claimed he was able to selectively destroy pathogen and malignant cells. The Rife machine is still used today as an alternative treatment for various illnesses however it has never been adopted by mainstream medical practitioners.
Visual: We know that light vibrations that are below 430 Thz or exceed 770Thz simply do not transfer to our consciousness. Cells in the visual cortex appear to discard the information. So if the light vibration is outside our range, we may well ‘see’ it, but we don’t know we saw it. To our mind it was invisible. The phenomenon of the process of the eye transferring data to the consciousness could explain anything from magicians’ illusions to actually seeing ghosts that may drift in and out of our conscious spectrum. We are aware, particularly from reports from sectors like police, ambulance, nursing homes, of the effect of a full moon on human behaviour. The full moon sends strong light vibrations at a time when a natural pattern is for humans to sleep. This clearly is emotionally disruptive to humans, especially so to those who are particularly light vibration sensitive as no doubt sensitivity to light vibrations may vary from person to person. Having a light bulb on in a prison cell 24 hours a day is a recognised form of human torture.
Colour is no more nor less than vibration as the pure light is broken into particles. Red is in the 430-480 Thz (terahertz) vibration range. Orange 480-510, yellow is 510-540, green 540-580. Colour is, in fact, technically an illusion. Like the vocal scale, dark colours tend to be sombre and emotionally draining while bright colours are more energetic and enthusiastic. The Chinese will decorate a restaurant in red to stimulate appetite, a woman may dress in red to do likewise, although a different type of appetite. A business suit is generally in dark grey, unless you are a cheap car salesman when it might be green or light blue. A funeral is black, a wedding is white.
Pressure: Many animals and birds ‘feel’ the vibration of earthquakes well before they happen. Reports from earthquake analysis regularly contain reports of mass animal and bird evacuation in the hours or even days before an earthquake actually erupts. Humans do not have that level of sensitivity, or at least are not conscious of it. But sometimes people do sense that there is something there that their eyes just cannot see; perhaps our pressure sensors can feel it (a sensation that makes the skin crawl or hairs stand up on back of our neck), but the light vibration is outside our range of being conscious of seeing it. That may even occur with the moon, for it may not only be the light vibration that disturbs our mind. The moon does not travel in a perfect circle around the earth, it travels in an elliptical pattern. Throughout its cycle it can be anything from 364 thousand kilometres away from us to 405 thousand kilometres. The circuit of the moon is held in place by electro magnetic force of attraction. Or gravity. This electro magnetic force, or pressure vibration, then varies by up to 11%, compressing and expanding energy waves during the lunar cycle, or month. The pressure cycle does not directly coincide with the light cycle. This month, April 2018, the moon is furthest away from Earth (405,000 kms) during the last quarter, a week before the full moon and is closest to earth (364,000 kms) in the first quarter, the week before the new moon. The pattern in three months time, July, is that the moon is closest during the new moon 364,000 kms and furthest during the full moon (405,000 kms). But we would have to expect that pressure vibrations, while totally invisible, have an equally powerful effect on our minds and emotions.
Consider the difference on our mood and emotions between a brisk shower and a soothing bath. Between a tickle with a feather and a deep tissue massage. Those pressure variations are similar to the difference between hearing a lead guitar and a bass. Between wearing a black dress and a red. Its all vibrations.
No doubt there are times when over exposure to a particular vibration can upset the equilibrium and require a circuit breaker to reset the system, but fundamentally we do need to trust the system, trust the cosmos. There is a time to have our senses on high alert, to have our stress level peaking, when time appears to slow down for us and we can respond effectively to threats or opportunities. And there are times that we need to go into emotional hibernation. But either must be a temporary state. Sometimes we just get stuck in one vibrational phase or another and need a circuit breaker, a reset by sound, sight or pressure. That’s what music, sunsets, hot tubs and massages are all here for.
And if there are no vibrations? Good question, I am glad you asked. In my recent blog on Time, I speculated that time may simply be the electrical pulse transfer process from sensation to the consciousness via the pineal gland. This process shuts off sound above 23,000 hz, light above 770 Thz and pressure at whatever level makes it too late for us to escape before an earthquake strikes. I could further speculate that this transfer process correlates to the length of the vibrations of the sound, light or pressure wave. Without the vibration, the wave flatlines. Perhaps then our consciousness no longer has a concept of time. Everything just ‘is’.
I guess we will all find out…… in time. Meantime, just ride those good vibrations.
I was watching Winston Peters announcing from the London meeting of the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers that Britain was now keen to resurrect the glory of the British Empire by putting together a trade deal between we proud members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Pub quiz night: name the 52 members, outside Britain, of the Commonwealth of Nations. Did you get to 10? If so I think you are well above average. Did you get Lesotho, Tuvalu, St Kitts & Nevis, Belize, Malawi, or Swaziland? This Commonwealth has 19 African members, 7 Asian, 13 Caribbean & American, 3 European and 11 from the South Pacific.
The total GDP of these 53 nations is $US11 trillion which sounds impressive until you note that China on its own has $US12 trillion GDP and the USA has nearly $US20 trillion GDP. But if there is anything ‘common’ about them it is certainly not ‘wealth’. The top 4 countries in the group (UK, India, Canada and Australia) account for 75% of the total group’s GDP. The top 11 (where New Zealand is #11) account for 95% of the whole group’s GDP. So 42 countries out of 53 (79%) bring in only 5% of the total group’s GDP. The Commonwealth includes the three poorest countries on the planet. In the same pub quiz, name them! Answer = Kirobati, Nauru and Tuvulu. Bet you didn’t know any of them.
This Commonwealth alliance that today has little practical reason for being, has also bugger all chance of ever being a trading bloc especially when you consider that Commonwealth members Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia already belong to TPP bloc; India and South Africa already belong to BRICS; Cyprus and Malta are in the EU and the African nations have their own trading blocs.
We, the Commonwealth of Nations, are the largely-abandoned urchins of the British Empire who were left to fend for ourselves after Lady Britannia decided to go back to her Eurochums’ social circuit after their two little W.W.s were all forgiven and forgotten. Yes we do meet up for family games every few years, and play a bit of cricket together which is jolly good fun, but thats as far as it goes. If we ever go to visit mother England we will stand and wait in the foreigners’ queue while the Germans are welcomed through lovers’ lane.
But now there are spats in the Euro love nest, mainly about Angela the Hun letting riffraff in through the back door (not intended as a euphemism, but with Germans who knows?). But Britain is committed to leaving the European Union and so, whatever eventually happens with Brexit negotiations, Britain will be short of a few quid for a while and that is likely to make the rabble a bit restless and looking to bring back the guillotines. And like many an absentee parent finding themselves hung over, short of a few quid and debt collectors knocking, she remembers the forgotten family and reminds them that we are still family. So last week the Queen called a meeting of all the heads of their global families, perfectly timed right after the fun of the family games in Australia and immediately before her grand birthday party to which they had all been invited. She told them that she thought that we, as the family of the British Empire, might like to setup some sort of a trade thingy between us and, since she was getting a bit wobbly on her pins, perhaps we should put Charles in charge of it all. Did she really mean all 53 members of the Commonwealth? That would be an enormously daunting prospect for a trade deal, particularly given the disparity in populations, locations, cultures and economies. The EU only has 28 members and our Trans Pacific Partnership has twelve members. Is Charles the man with the experience and charisma to pull together the biggest trading bloc on earth? Especially given that 79% of the members account for just 5% of the wealth.
But perhaps I am being cynical? Maybe its not all about the size of your GDP. One thing Charles would bring to the leadership of any trade alliance would be a focus on ecological sustainability. You have to admit he was all over this ecological crisis way back when we could still swim in our rivers and drink tap water. And he has approached the challenges in a far more practical way than all the attention-seekers floating around in little boats with banners. Since buying Highgrove, a 15-acre estate, in 1980, the Prince has personally overseen its transformation from pasture land to what is now regarded as one of the most important gardens in the UK. His rejection of chemical pesticides and promotion of species once considered weeds attracted criticism in the 1980s long before the boom in organic gardening. His estate even includes an innovative sewage treatment system, using only reed beds to cleanse waste water from the house. The reed-bed waste system is an artificial wetland that converts sewage back to clean water, while allowing the solid matter to be returned to the soil in the form of manure. He has even built a biogas plant in Dorset to supply gas from food waste to 56,000 homes.
Is the Prince of Wales now girthed, girded and ready to lead the CommonWealth, re-named as the CommonHealth of Nations, in a global eco-war reminiscent of the Crusades? Fifty three disparate nations united under the banner of King Charles the greenheart, re-inventing trade within the commonwealth with a war cry of ‘sustainability before profit’. Is this the Royal intent?
I would love to think so, but I am quite sure the tragic reality is that Britain really does think they can resurrect the old bones of their 19th century trade Empire, or at least the ten biggest of us, and have us committed to all buying British solely to help balance their books after Brexit. In the words of Daryll Kerrigan, Australia’s only philosopher, “tell ’em they’re dreamin’.”
“I’m off to Cuba on Saturday” said my old mate Chinny; “I’ll send you back a poster of your hero Che Guevara, since you are too feeble to actually come with me, see Cuba for yourself and get your own poster.”
Harsh words from someone who is supposed to be a mate. Doesn’t he realise I have a golf game on Monday morning? I can’t just take off halfway around the world on a whim. I have responsibilities, I have commitments. Anyway Chinny wanted to know why I wanted a poster of a murdering terrorist. So that started the whole debate between us as to when a murdering terrorist might actually be an heroic freedom fighter removing corruption and greed from the world by whatever means it takes.
The Che Guevara legend came to the fore during the third movie of my favourite ever trilogy, The Godfather. Michael Corleone was in Cuba with all his mafia gangsters, plus a collection of senior USA government and legitimate corporate representatives celebrating the 1959 New Year, as New Year’s Eve party guests of Fulgencio Batista, the Cuban military dictator.
Cuba was full of magnificent art deco hotels and casinos, flashy American cars and all the glam of the USA 1950’s. At least it was glamorous for the gangsters, the big businessmen, corrupt politicians and the American tourists; the peasants lived in poverty. But that was the night that the socialist revolutionary Fidel Castro and his second in command, Che Guevara, took over the government of Cuba. Che Guevara was not a Cuban. His name was not Che. Nor was he just an uneducated, peasant soldier who worked his way up the ranks of Castro’s revolutionary army.
Ernesto Guevara was born into a wealthy Argentinian family (Che is the Hispanic term for an Argentinian) and was of mixed Irish/ Spanish blood; some would say that bloodline made him born to be a revolutionary. He was studying medicine at the University of Buenos Aires when he decided (twice) to take time off from his studies to travel on a motor cycle up through northern Argentina, Peru and Chile. It started as an adventure but the abject poverty, disease and corruption he witnessed turned this adventure into a lifetime mission. He went back to Buenos Aires and finished his medical degree and then set off again through Latin America determined to make the world a better place. He was drawn to socialist organisations and soon became involved in assisting President Arbenz of Guatemala to introduce social reforms into that country.
Unfortunately Arbenz was overthrown, with CIA assistance, and the young Guevara went north to Mexico. In 1955 he married Hilda Accosta, an influential economist who introduced him to Cuban revolutionaries visiting Mexico. It was at this time he met Fidel Castro and he had found his great mission in life. From Mexico Guevara sailed to Cuba. While initially he brought his medical skills to the revolution, such was his political intellect and his unwavering military pragmatism, he soon became Castro’s second in charge. One of the twentieth century’s greatest revolutionary partnerships was born.
After the success of the Cuban revolution, Che undertook several important government roles in Cuba including agrarian reforms and establishing a nationwide literacy programme. He trained the military forces that repelled the USA’s disastrous invasion at the Bay of Pigs which internationally embarrassed the Americans. He is also reputed to have treated the 2,000 political prisoners without compassion. The death penalty was mandatory.
Immediately after the revolution Che married fellow Cuban revolutionary Aleida March and they had four children together. He became a global statesman, an honoured guest in Russia, China and Africa. But over the next few years he came to be at irreconcilable odds with Castro over Cuba’s economic policies. As a statesman he had become disillusioned with the Russian socialist model favoured by Castro and far more inclined towards the Chinese model. History would have to say, in retrospect, Guevara was right in his assessment. Cuba’s population/GDP ratio today is almost identical to Greece which is not a great achievement for the Castro rule. Relatively speaking, NZ has under half the population with over twice the GDP. On any social or economic scale, it appears that Cuba is worse off now than it was before Castro took over. Before Castro, Cuba spent 4% of its GDP on education, the same % as USA and higher than anywhere in Europe. Before Castro, Cuba had more doctors per 1,000 population than Great Britain. Ideals are all very well, but if you cant create the wealth, you can’t deliver the social programmes. Castro did change Cuba from being a country with a disproportionate distribution of wealth, but unfortunately converted it to a country of almost universal poverty.
So, disillusioned with Castro’s economic policies, Che Guevara resigned his government posts in 1965. He dropped out of sight for a while but then turned up in the Belgian Congo, supporting the revolution there that eventually renamed that country Zaire. From there he made his way to Bolivia where he took an active role in fighting alongside local revolutionaries. On 8 October 1967 Che and his small band of guerillas, were captured and executed by the Bolivian forces, supported by the USA military. They were buried in secret graves that were not disclosed for 28 years.
1997, his remains were repatriated from Bolivia to Cuba where they are housed, along with the 29 revolutionaries who died with him, in a huge mausoleum at Santa Clara. Fifty years after his death he remains a folklore legend.
Nelson Mandella was a contemporary revolutionary of Guevara. Mandela was born to the Thembu royal family in South Africa. Like Guevara he was university educated. As a lawyer he became involved in anti-colonial politics joining the ANC in 1943, committed to the overthrow of apartheid. He was also a Marxist and a member of the South African Communist Party. In 1961, in association with the SACP he co-founded the militant group “Umkhonto we Sizwe” and led a sabotage campaign against the government. He was arrested and imprisoned, not an unfamiliar experience, but this time it was for 27 years. He was released in 1990 after years of international protest and sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid policies. Through surviving, Mandella became the poster boy for the victory over apartheid. The first democratic elections in 1994, when black South Africans were given the vote, saw Mandella become President of South Africa. Although a marxist by history, Mandella maintained the established liberal economy in South Africa. The collapse of USSR communism in 1991 and the economic changes in communist China clearly influenced his economic direction. He died peacefully of old age in 2013. Mandella may be said to have been a revolutionary, but in reality he was a protester whose greatest achievement was surviving 27 years in prison until the political landscape changed. The difference between protester and revolutionary is the difference in lives between Mandella and Guevara. One buried in prison for 27 years, the other buried in an unmarked grave for 28 years. Now both have grand memorials to deliver messages to the world.
Bin Laden may have been the closest we have seen of a modern day Che Guevara. Bin Laden, born into a wealthy Saudi family, travelled to Afghanistan to join the guerilla fighters to drive out the Russian invaders. A noble cause. A brave and intelligent fighter. A leader of men. But Bin Laden crossed the line. Bin Laden targeted non-combatant civilians in his war against the West. He may have claimed justification in his actions by citing the indiscriminate drone attacks of the USA on Arab targets, but if he wanted to be respected as is Guevara, he had to hold the high moral ground. He needed to discipline himself and his followers to restrict his fight to the soldiers and the spies; to those who invaded Afghanistan and involved themselves in the affairs of another sovereign nation. He had to let the West be exposed as the side that was indiscriminately murdering civilians, if that is what was happening. Through undertaking revenge of the innocents against other innocents, Bin laden has caused the creation of the new, oppressive global ‘security’ industry. Bin Laden has single handedly given governments in the West the legitimacy to spy on its citizens, to arrest and torture suspects and disrupt our travel movements.
Undoubtedly that was his intent. Creating fear amongst the enemy soldiers is the role of a guerilla freedom fighter. Creating terror amongst the non-combatants is criminal terrorism. Guevara may well have killed his political enemies without mercy, but it was war and they were active participants in that war. And Guevara died in battle, fighting to the end, taking his socialist war to wherever in the world he believed it was needed. Bin Laden died while in hiding in a hovel from the Americans. Now, 50 years after his death, Che Guevara’s legend as a freedom fighter lives strong. What Bin Laden’s personal legacy will be in 44 years remains to be seen. But so far there is no grand memorial built to his memory.
The book writers and screen writers, the poets and the songwriters may disagree whether Che Guevara was executed as a terrorist criminal or martyred as a fighter for justice and humanity. I won’t enter the debate here but if, thirty years after your death, your body is repatriated and honoured with such a massive mausoleum, then history respects you and honours you for doing something important and meaningful with your life. I would love to have gone to Cuba with Chinny on Saturday, specifically to Santa Clara. If only I didn’t have that golf game booked in.
Footnote: True to his word, this poster arrived in the mail from Chinny.
Footnote #2: 8/8/2018: I got an email from Chinny last night asking if a postcard he had also sent me had arrived. I responded in the negative and, being over four months ago, I wasn’t holding out any hope now. Then today this postcard appeared in my letter box. Unbelievable. After 20 weeks it was arriving in my box at exactly the same time Chinny suddenly remembered that he had sent it. Probably just a weird coincidence, nothing to do with Che himself sending me a message, naah.
I have predicted, of late, that we are watching the decline of the American Empire. I say ’empire’ but, like the British empire, America’s empire is not a legal entity in the sense of actually having an emperor like Julius Caesar, Suleiman the magnificent or Napoleon. But in the modern context I refer to empire in the sense of dominating global currencies. By that criteria, America ascended the imperial throne at the end of World War 2. England was poking its military nose around the world back in the 17th century and by the late 18th and 19th centuries their manufacturing technology and their formidable navy led to domination of global trade, through India, Africa, Hong Kong, the South Pacific and the Americas.
All was going well for the Brits during the 19th century but by the early 20th century America was starting to get the better of their balance of trade. The USA now had their own cotton gins. However Britain still remained the centre of world commerce and much of the global trade was conducted in British pounds and all major currencies were pegged to gold bars.
Then came World War 1. It was such an expensive war that many countries, Germany in particular, had to abandon the gold standard to pay military expenses; those currencies devalued rapidly. Three years into the war and even Britain needed to borrow money to keep going and the Yanks were there to help out. Britain was forced to abandon the gold standard and the British international merchants who traded in pounds found their bank accounts severely depleted. The greenback $US was now the leading reserve currency.
When World War 2 broke out the US stayed out of the conflict for a long time but nonetheless profited greatly from the war as the main merchant of weapons, ammunition and supplies to the allied forces. They required payment for most of it in gold and by the end of the war they held most of the gold on earth in Fort Knox.
The Americans only entered the war after they were personally attacked at Pearl Harbour by Japan which was an ally of Germany. Playing a major role in ending the war in Europe gave them the opportunity to claim top of the table seat on the global international stage. In 1944, delegates from forty four Allied countries met in Bretton Wood, New Hampshire, to come up with a system to manage foreign exchange that would not put any country at a disadvantage. It was decided that the world’s currencies couldn’t be linked to gold, but they could be linked to the U.S. dollar, which was linked to gold. The agreement was that the central banks would maintain fixed exchange rates between their currencies and the U.S. dollar. The United States would then guarantee to redeem U.S. dollars for gold on demand.
So now, instead of gold reserves, other countries accumulated reserves of U.S. dollars. Needing a place to store their dollars, countries began buying U.S. Treasury securities, which they considered to be a safe store of money. Now one country’s currency virtually replaced the international currency of gold. How would that work out? Well all went jolly well during the relatively peaceful decade of the 1950’s. America was Camelot. Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy were the three great emperors of America. I say peaceful, but WW2 had actually delivered two contenders for world domination, the USA and the USSR. The allies tried to buy a compromise, splitting both Germany and Korea into Russian/American zones of control. Russia tagged China to support the North Korean communists in their war against the south and USA and that war ground to an unresolved stalemate. And then came Vietnam. Russia had shown no interest in Vietnam until USA decided to throw bags full of money to support the French to suppress communism in North Vietnam. That is when Russia began to get interested and in 1954, the kitchen got too hot and the French pulled out. The start of a very expensive war that, in my opinion, started the collapse of the American empire. Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy launched an ambitious and expensive “Great Society” social programme intended to end poverty and racial discrimination in America. Or effectively to try to prevent what was now becoming a very nervous cultural divide in America. Much of the proposed funding however went into an increasingly expensive war in Vietnam and the late 60’s exploded in violent cultural riots.
The collapse started, as the creation had started, with the greenback. The war had became so expensive, in addition to the “Great Society” domestic programme, that in 1971 Richard Nixon had to abandon the gold standard and flood the banks with paper money. This created the floating exchange rates that we have today. However despite large deficit spending, trillions of dollars in foreign debt and unlimited printing of US Dollars (the last incidence was the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-8) the U.S. Treasury remains the world’s reserve currency because the world trusts that the US will always remain solvent. The US gross domestic product is way ahead of anyone else at $US18.5 trillion. That is bigger than the whole BRICS (China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa) trading bloc combined.
But everything balances tentatively on trust and confidence. The trust and confidence that the US is politically stable enough to maintain its economy. What could possibly shake that trust and confidence?
His name is Donald Trump. He did not cause a cultural divide in the USA, but he is the highest profile manifestation of it. There is a cultural chasm in America that the rest of the civilised world did not really understand. Not until the good old boys motivated themselves to get sufficient numbers to the polls to elect Donald Trump and he has shown us all very clearly what a problem it is for them. It appears that the Civil War never ended because although militarily defeated, and laws forced upon them, the hearts and minds of the South were never changed. The cultural difference is as entrenched as any tribal conflict in the middle east. It may have been suppressed by the force of law, but mainly it was suppressed through lack of leadership from the south to stand up and raise the Confederate flag once again. Donald Trump was seen as that man. He talked the Confederate talk. He promised brick walls against the Mexicans, the gates closed to Muslims.
The original English migrants in the early 17th century were the Puritans escaping religious persecution in their home county of East Anglia. They settled in Massachusetts and brought their distinctive East Anglia twang with them which was the basis of the general American accent, albeit modified by other European groups that migrated to America, especially New York.
But it was the Royalists (Cavaliers) who left south and southwest England in the mid seventeenth century to the safety of America when the civil war in England broke out. They left because they opposed the “Parliamentarians” wanting more power over governance. They brought a completely different culture of royalist aristocracy opposing ‘government by the people’ to America and with it they brought the distinctive South England drawl. They settled further south in Virginia and the Carolinas. They bought vast tracts of land and grew tobacco and cotton crops. They imported slaves on British slave boats and exported their cotton and tobacco to England. They established a social hierarchy where even the serfs were happy for their aristocracy to run the politics and businesses and for the slaves to be lower on the social structure than them. And that formed the basis of the southern lifestyle that the Confederates went to civil war to protect. Charlottesville August 2017 demonstrated that the surrender in 1865 was only a cease fire, not a capitulation. The month after Trump was sworn in the Charlottesville Council voted 3-2 to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee. In August a riot broke out as white supremacists marched opposing the removal. The confederates had declared war. General Robert E Lee had his army in support once more. The Liberals also turned up ready for the fight. A white supremacist drove a car into a crowd; a woman was killed and 19 people injured. Trump appeared unconcerned. White nationalists and neo-Nazis celebrated US President Donald Trump’s remarks about the protests when, after being pushed persistently to make a stance, he denounced violence “on all sides” rather than explicitly condemning white supremacism. After two days, following massive pressure from his own camp, Trump added “including KKK, neo Nazis and white supremacists.” No one believed him. Racism is alive and strong in the USA, has Trump as a sympathiser and is the basis of the great cultural divide.
Washington DC is making life very difficult for Trump. Even Trump would agree that being president with so many enemies is no fun. He knows who likes him, those good old boys down south and the mid western solid rural folk. Significantly, after Charlottesville, polls showed Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Dakota: North and South, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, West Virginia are all in the 50-60% Trump approval rating in Sept 2017. Florida and Georgia are close at 48%. Suddenly the states don’t look quite so united.
Would Trump be the sort of guy that would see himself as general Robert E Lee reincarnated? Would he like a general’s uniform with medals and would he like to establish a royal, ruling Trump family dynasty? Yes I do think he might like all thatWould he relitigate the South’s old claims? Would they follow him? Especially the strategically vital and lucrative marginal state of Florida?
If he declared Florida as the capital of a new country his Mar a Lago home becoming the presidential palace then I think Florida would lap that up with Georgia following like a lamb. Finally has the Mid-West/ South got enough money to fight a war with the Yankees? Did you think they were just chicken farmers and moonshine bootleggers after the civil war?
Actually, very wrong. Texas is the second largest economy after California. Apart from the bigger than anywhere farms bringing in huge agricultural revenues and ten billion barrels of oil, they have NASA there and all the spinoff aero-tech businesses that brings. North Dakota is the next largest oil producer with a very respectable 5.7 billion barrels of oil. Mississippi is full of huge hi-tech, high wage factories including the $1,4 billion Russian owned Severstal steel mill producing steel for cars. the Yokohama tyre factory, Nissan factory at Jackson, GE Aviation at Hattiesburg, Hybrid Plastics, one of the top ten nanotechnology producers in the US. They have a Rolls Royce engine building plant, a navy shipbuilding plant and a plant building unmanned helicopters for the navy. Mississippi is a busy little state. Tennessee has GM and Nissan car plants, 142 solar power companies, manufacturing plants for Whirlpool and Electrolux, Eastern Chemical and Delta faucet companies. Tennessee has won economic “State of the Year” award in 2009, 2013 and 2014. And Florida does more than a bit of orange juice too. It has the fourth largest economy in the US behind California, Texas and New York. Florida produces over $100 billion worth of food; 70% of the country’s citrus and in the winter months supplying 80% of the country’s fresh fruit and veg. It’s aerospace and aviation businesses contribute over $140 billion. The Florida tourism industry employs a million people, 10% of the workforce, and earns $US54 billion pa. Allied to tourism is that Florida is also full of wealthy retirees and the flow on bio-tech research and Life Sciences industry is substantial. If the secret to eternal youth is going to be discovered, it will probably happen in Florida. Bundle up the smaller states rural economies with these and you have a combined GDP of $US 6-7 Trillion. It would be the third biggest GDP in the world. It would be bigger than Japan and Germany and bigger than the UK and Russia combined. It would not be an insignificant little country for Trump to preside over.
But this would not be a war with swords and cannons; the weapon of choice would be currency. The first battle would be to destabilise the US dollar, shake the trust and confidence of the world in retaining the $US as the global currency standard. It need not even involve printing confederate banknotes; imagine the effect on the value of, and confidence in, the $US if Trump went to Bitcoin or ZCash or one of the others and said “I want a $US trillion worth of your finest crypto currency my good man.” I am no currency trader but I understand basic supply and demand and so I know the effect of someone selling off a trillion of the USA’s most important asset. Adopting a crypto currency for the Confederate States of America, or Trumpland as he would refer to it in his tweets, might just create the critical mass to allow a crypto currency to takeover from the $US as the international currency standard.
When the American civil war broke out to preserve their “unique culture”, the Union only had this domestic war to concern itself with. If they had a problem with the Southern/Mid Western states today, that has to be balanced with its Homeland Security priorities and its military roles in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea. Trump could just walk away from all that. If the US Dollar gets undermined then: ‘New York, you have a problem’. The east coast wold be completely cut off from the west coast so maybe California will expand its borders to include Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Washington State and Hawaii and declare itself the independent country of OprahLand? Montana becomes an isolated state so may choose to just get right out and join Canada? Maybe the remaining 19 states of the USA: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin, will just then rename itself New York the country or Washington or whatever? Who knows? It happened in the USSR.
Putin and Trump, obviously.
Add to them the Queen of England (just be grateful it’s not the Duke), heads of state of France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel. South Africa used to but no longer, and now we can add North Korea to the list.
But is it really Kim Jung Un’s finger on the North Korean button? Because if you thought super yachts are a rich boys game, nukes are in a whole other league. North Korea, with a population of 25 million people, only earns about $US4 billion from exports, mainly coal and woollen suits and spends more than that on basic essentials like oil and Cristal champagne for the top table. That puts them in the economic league of the Congo or Jamaica. That does not make for a guy who can afford to sit at the biggest swinging dicks table and build nukes in addition to a massive and very well armed conventional army, navy and airforce. North Korea has an active military force of just under a million men, with over 5 million in reserve. The USA bill for it’s nuclear programme averages $US20 billion pa.; its total military budget, with 1.3 million active servicemen and women, is $US600 billion pa. They support this with exports over $1.5 trillion. That is well above Kim Jung’s pay grade.
So if you accept the current tension with Kim Jung Un’s nuke tests is, in effect, a “Go home Yank” protest, then who, apart from this ‘poor as a church mouse’ North Korean, would want to be behind that message? Well the Arabs come to mind quickly. George Dubbya and Tony Blair were convinced that Iraq had WOMD, but when they went there, the cupboard was bare. Is it possible Saddam had simply relocated his weapons development programme to North Korea? That programme would have stopped after Saddam was toppled of course but could the programme have been put back on the market in 2015 when Iran was very reluctantly forced to stop their nuclear weapons programme in order to relieve the international economic sanctions that were crippling their country’s economy. Is it possible they just also went to North Korea and picked up Saddam’s tab?
But let’s also start right back with the dividing up of Korea (as with Germany) after WW2. Russia got North Korea and USA got South Korea. Russia later did a deal with China letting them be responsible for introducing communism to their neighbour. USA occupied the South and just five years after WW2 ended, the Korean War started when Kim il Sung, Jung Un’s granddad, after he got the green light from Mao Tse Tung, and armed with Russian tanks, invaded South Korea. That ended in a stalemate that continues today. Russia and China clearly want USA out of there.
Remember the Americans only entered WW2 when the Japanese, allied with Germany, bombed Pearl Harbour. So why was a resort island thousands of miles offshore such a deal breaker for the USA and what were the Yanks doing owning an island in the South Pacific in the first place? Interesting story, I am glad you asked. Back in the 19th century a number Americans were over in Hawaii organising the sugar business. A chap named Sanford Dole, born in Hawaii of American parents, worked his way up in the Hawaiian legal infrastructure eventually sitting on the Supreme Court. Then he got ambitious and overthrew the Queen of Hawaii and declared Hawaii a Republic. Then in 1898, the USA were discreetly assisting Cuban rebels to get rid of the Spanish when the USS Maine mysteriously sunk in the Havana harbour. That sinking swung the debate in Washington and Uncle Sam then declared war on Spain. Most of the Spanish Pacific fleet was over in the Phillipines which Spain also occupied, so the Yanks had a word to Dole and used Hawaii as the USA naval base from where they sailed into Manilla harbour to take on the Spanish. Short story shorter, the war was all over by Christmas and as a result the Yanks found themselves in charge of the Phillipines and Guam as well as Hawaii after giving Sanford the Governorship job.
Obviously they valued this little collection of Mid-Pacific naval fortresses and after WW2 thought South Korea would add nicely to the USA’s military influence in this Asian region. That is also why they went into Vietnam, because Russia was backing North Vietnam. But just as the USA didn’t like Spain sitting in Cuba on their doorstep with their navy and soldiers, nor do Russia or China like the Yanks sitting on their doorstep with their planes and ships and troops and rockets and guns. Just as Spain had to suck it up at the end of the nineteenth century, and Khruschev had to suck it up over Cuba in ’62, so might America have to suck it up now.
So back to Kim Jung’s little nuke games. There are any number of nations who would not be sorry to see the USA out of the Asian/Pacific region. Observe that Iran and Russia are allies in supporting Syria against its rebels; observe that Turkey, once a strong US ally is now buying missiles from Russia. They could each be playing a role in either arming North Korea or in playing some support role. Consider the persistent rumours that Russia played some interference role in swinging the unimaginable election of Trump into a reality. Trump went into the election very much with a siege mentality: vowing to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Trade Deal; to block immigration, to build the Mexican wall. Just the sort of man who might just pull up the American drawbridge and pull out of the Asia/Pacific with enough pressure. Putin would read Trump like a book.
Trump is just a TV reality-showpony, so when the hard men of the real world say: “fingers on buzzers please gentlemen, this is not a drill” Trump has nothing in his hand but his dick. He can’t drop a nuke on North Korea. The radiation fallout would decimate populations of USA allies South Korea and Japan, including US personnel based there, to say nothing of their biggest trading partner, China which is just itching for a legitimate opportunity to drive America out of the region.
A conventional invasion of North Korea is possible; a sudden strike to try to neutralise the ten thousand conventional rockets pointing at Seoul before blasting the city of Pyongyang to rubble the way they did in Baghdad. But Trump would need to be assured that North Korea would get no advance warning and that he would achieve total victory within minutes. Because Jung Un has nukes buried deep in bunkers, that could be mobilised in minutes. One nuke on the US Base in Guam, as he has already threatened, then the South Koreans and Japanese will get really nervous about the US military bases in their countries and join the “Go Home Yank” call. Germany, Turkey and anywhere else with US military bases will also get nervy. And Jung Un does also apparently have a nuke that he could send anywhere along their west coast from Seattle to San Francisco or LA which will have the USA calling “come home Yank”.
His generals (still remembering the humiliation of Vietnam) will be carefully explaining that scenario to him in simple language so, before he faces the humiliation of his forces in Guam being nuked and there being nothing he can do about it (with the whole world against him), can’t you just see Trump making that speech:
“I did not get elected President of this great country to send our brave boys to fight and die because of someone else’s stoopidity. America has done more for peace in Asia than any other nation has ever done for peace anywhere on the planet, anytime in history. For more than seventy years we have been there in Korea trying to stop them killing each other.
But, you know, sometimes you have no option. China could have stopped North Korea in a minute; just shut off their oil supply and the problem is over. But oh no they did not want to upset Kim Jung Un. So we said ok, if you won’t do it the easy way then ok I will blow North Korea off the face of the earth; but oh no, no one wants that either. Oh no Mr trump, you cannot use the nuclear weapons that Kim Jung Un is threatening to use. So now they just want America to send in its fine young men to fight their war for them, in a way that gives Kim Jung Un a chance to win with his army of five million. Fighting on the ground with no doubt very high casualties to our forces. But you know what? I am going to walk away from that table because there is nothing in that deal for Americans. Only death to our soldiers, grief to their loved ones. So if they do not to listen to their American friends, and we have been very, very good friends to them. We have tried to bring them all together in peace by building their economy for them and giving them opportunities; yes we built their industries for them, out of friendship;
But now it is now time for America to do what is best for Americans. We don’t need other people to make our Levis. We invented Levis. We don’t need them to make our cars! We taught them how to make cars! We make the best cars in the whole world! ! We don’t need their technology. We are the most technologically advanced nation on the planet and we will build the most technologically advanced missile defence systems so that no one will ever, ever threaten the USA again. I warn everyone now, if anyone points a missile in the direction of the US, we will obliterate them. No warnings, no questions. And we will control our borders with a technological wall far stronger than any brick wall. When I talked about building a wall, some people assumed I meant a conventional wall. Those people underestimated me and that is a big mistake. A very big mistake. I promised you I would make America great again and I am keeping my promise. Because I always keep my promises.”
Meantime back in the Kremlin, “Well comrades, with help from Mr Trump, we are making Russia great again. He has cancelled the trade agreement with all the Asian-Pacific countries as predicted and that has seriously weakened his support; Britain has weakened the EU and the emerging economic powerhouse of the world is our BRICS consortium with over 3 billion people. Soon we will bring in more members as our friends. Trump has had to withdraw his troops and missiles and ships from across our border in Korea because he kept making stupid statements he could not carry out and already South Korea has been talking with our friends in China. Japan has lost all confidence in America and we will talk to them soon about BRICS and maybe sort out the Kuril Islands at the same time. Europe doesn’t return his calls anymore and Angela will start to put on pressure to remove their military bases because they will attract more and more terrorists. We will see to that. All the easier to expand our borders in Europe”.
History shows us the future. Global superpowers are as cyclical as the climate. America’s summer is over. Trump heralds the Autumn (which the Americans ironically call the Fall). The Russian bear is emerging from its hibernation.
And in Beijing and Tehran they will be saying: “Bye bye Yankee, you have a nice day ok?”
It just takes all the fun out of being a conspiracy theorist when the conspirators don’t even put up a decent pretence anymore. Yes I am talking about Romain Poite’s penalty reversal in the final minutes of the third test of All Blacks against the Lions; the penalty that would have given the game and series to the All Blacks. To get one thing out of the way, I really don’t give a toss about the result of a Lions game. It is the entire Northern Hemisphere of rugby minus, arguably, a couple of French players, up against New Zealand. Effectively it is a multi-national Barbarians game and it is hard to get tribally passionate about it. I am far more passionate about the Highlanders / Crusaders quarter final next week. Then its all about the Bledisloe Cup series against Aussie. How we love to beat Aussie. After that the Southern Hemisphere Rugby championship which will probably be us against the respected old foe, the Saffas. Those are games worth getting your blood pressure up over. But someone obviously seems to think it was politically, or commercially, important that the Lions, the cream of 190,000 player pool, at least came out on par with the All Blacks and so back to the open admission of administrator match-fixing.
Ok so full-time is almost up on the clock, the scores are all tied up (although most of All Blacks points from tries and all of the Lions points from penalties awarded, but that’s another story). All Blacks kick deep into Lions territory and the ball is fumbled by the receiver and then caught by a Lions player, Ken Owens, in an offside position. No argument about that, from anyone. Owens realising he has stuffed up drops the ball which is scooped up by Leinert-Brown as he heads off for the try line and the winning try. So the rule is that the referee must allow play to continue to see if the infringement leads to an All Black advantage (ie a try). Before he finally awards the penalty or scrum depending on his ruling of what happened.
So, with illegal decision #1, referee Romain Poite immediately blows up the game just as Leinart-Brown beats the immediate defender, with three All Blacks in hot support. Romaine instantly chooses the lesser of two dangers and prevents the try by awarding a penalty to the All Blacks. Then looking at the proximity to the goal posts he realises that the penalty is almost a certainty to be converted to three points and a win to the All Blacks. So he has to buy some time for instructions from head office. He calls for a TMO ruling on the incident even though he has already, illegally, stopped the movement that would probably have resulted in a try. This was to check for possible obstruction by an All Black and confirmation of the offside position. But the real issue was Poite’s decision not to allow play to continue when he clearly saw the real threat of a last minute try to the All Blacks playing out before his eyes. As obvious on the big screen, confirmed by the TMO, there was no All Black interference and that Lions player is definitely offside, penalty to the All Blacks stands. TMO, George Ayoub confirmed the penalty decision, certainly no challenge by sideline referee on the spot, Jaco Peyper, and clearly agreed into his mike by man in the middle Romain Poite. Then in the few seconds it took for Romain to go back to the two captains to announce the result of deliberations as confirming the penalty, Poite acknowledges contact in his earpiece from the far side touchline referee, Jerome Garces with a “Oui Jerome” and a few seconds later Poite utters the magic words that dispel all pretence of a fair decision. “We ‘ave a deal, we ‘ave a deal about the offside from 16; it was ‘accidental off side’ no penalty, play for a scrum.’ So, denied the required ‘advantage option’ that looked likely to lead to a try, then checking with the TMO on his decision (knowing the ‘denied advantage’ simply could not be reinstated) and then having the TMO confirmation of the penalty suddenly reversed to a scrum on yjr opinion solely of the far side touch judge, with no further consultation with teh TMO, has to be the most bizarre sequence of decisions in rugby history.
Poite admitted on open mike that a deal had been made behind the scenes and privately passed to him into his earpiece during the few seconds after the penalty decision had been confirmed between him and the TMO, but before he returned to the players to confirm the decision. A deal with whom? Steve Hansen said after the game he accepted the final decision and would not answer media questions about it. And so now it became an “accidental offside” under law 11.6 (which still had to allow the ABs to play on for the probable try) and so the whole series fell flat. The pretence of a fair rugby series without administrator interference had evaporated. That was the ‘pants-down’ moment for the conspirators.
But only the media and the fans are complaining, and that won’t last long. By the time the first Bledisloe Cup game kicks off the incident will only live on in the minds of pub-quizmasters with a rugby theme; no one else will still care about it. Those from coach to water boy know only too well that their lucrative lifestyle is dependent on keeping the sponsors, including Fox Sports and Sky Sports all happy. Predictable outcomes and absence of controversy do not make for maximum viewer ratings and sponsors pay for viewers. A million happy kiwis just do not have the purchasing power of tens of millions of viewers in the northern hemisphere. Steve Hanson knows that, Kieran Read knows that, blind Freddy knows that. Apart from that there was an army of Lions supporters breaking all airport traffic records and adding very significantly to the New Zealand economy and of course we all want them to have enjoyed their tour and ‘y’all come back again real soon’.
But referee bias isn’t just a reality of the professional era, back in the good old amateur days we always accepted that the All Blacks would not win a test series in South Africa because their referees cheated; equally of course the South Africans could never win in New Zealand. Local referees were just tacitly accepted as a home team advantage. And local referees had to turn up at their local pub after the series, who could blame them?
The only real problem I have with this Lions referee match fixing incident from a fan’s viewpoint is that the Lions team was selected at the outset based on a 90:10 proportion defence to offence game plan. Selecting players whose natural skills are for negating free-flowing rugby and selecting a very, very good goal kicker to take advantage of the frustration they cause. Fifteen tries over ten games, including one semi professional Barbarians team, and five provincial teams is a pretty dismal effort for the cream of the British Isles and Ireland. Don’t get me wrong I like a solid defence play as much as the next man and a totally free running score of twelve tries to nine would bore me senseless. A great game of rugby works around the 50:50 balance of offence and defence plus or minus 10%. But that of course leaves the outcome of the game largely up to players and that may not necessarily suit the investment goals of the sponsors. A game based 90% on defence and played in the dark alleys of rucks and mauls gives so many more opportunities for the outcome to be controlled by the referee and whoever whispers unheard into his earpiece in the few seconds before he makes his call.
If Poite ever gets another international game after that outcome then the administration is openly giving us, the fans, the middle finger. What I would give to see the eye exchange between Kieran Read and Sam Warburton when they shook hands at the end of the game. I suspect the eyes would have been in agreement saying, ‘ What a bad decision for both of us but, if we want the sponsors’ big bucks, then a deal is a deal.’
Footnote: Over a month later Hanson is asked by media what happened; Hanson confirmed an official ‘please explain’ has been sent to IRB, but the IRB have declined to explain.