Wisdom from Fallon

Its been a while since I’ve read a series of books with as much fascination as  have read Jennifer Fallon’s many books.  The books are fantasy and would be considered lousy pulp-fiction by most. However, I find, that the books are both entertaining and educational.

I started reading them when someone told me I should move beyond Potter and Eragon, and of course, because I believe in all things magical. 😛

Fallon’s achievement is in creating a fragile and very human-like tale about fictitious countries and people. The crowning achievement, of all her books (actually only six, since I’ve read only those many), is “Elezaar’s Rules of Gaining and Wielding Power“. I will not tell you who or what Elezaar is, go read. The rest is obvious.

What is so astounding about these? The fact that they are incredibly applicable to real life – even for those of us who lead very ordinary lives.

Read for yourself:

1. Have a reason other than the pursuit of power, for pursuing it

2. Accept what you cannot change — change that which is unacceptable

3. Never appear to do better than your peers

4. Trust only yourself

5. Conceal your weaknesses, advertise your strengths

6. Regardless of who does the actual work — find a way to take the glory

7. Make others seek your aid

8. Use your enemies’ weaknesses against them

9. Keep people dependent on you — particularly those who might one day grow strong enough to challenge you

10. Your reputation is like a virgin — once violated it can never be restored

11. Do the unexpected

12. Kill the gander and the geese will be yours to slaughter at will

13. Never appear too bright or too clever

14. The people on the front line are closest to the problem — listen to their wisdom and then make their solutions your own

15. The mob likes a show — give them one as often as you can

16. Promise nothing

17. Scorn that which is out of reach, do not envy it

18. Never let an enemy’s blood splash on you — mud sticks but it’s easier to wash off than blood

19. Be merciful when it doesn’t matter — ruthless when it does

20. It is sometimes better to have an enemy on the inside looking out, than on the outside looking in

21. Demand change of others — but take it slowly yourself

22. Know when to ignore your advisors

23. Ask for help only from those in whose best interest it lies to aid you

24. Don’t lie — use only those parts of the truth that will aid you

25. Be generous — and keep a tally

26. Owe no man a favor

27. Let others argue while you take action

28. Know when to declare victory

29. Eventually, every leader must make the final decision

30. Never rely on lasting order — everything changes

Sure there is a lot of “blood and enemies” in there, but still. The rules apply.

A War Wound

A man on a wheelchair, no half a man really- he had no legs. His wife stood beside him at the Domestic Airport in Washington.

The woman wore a tee that read thus “Army-Wife”, the man wore a shirt that said ” We were winning when I left”.

Photo Credit: Luciana  Braga.

The chap must have been younger than I am, and I am only twenty three. I am speechless.

Alice in Nuclear Blunderland

Read this article at the greenpeace website. It is absolutely brilliant. Reproduced below in case you’re to lazy to click:


Vienna, Austria — Editor’s note: In preparing this article about the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, we read the news stories from all of the most reputable sources, we read the reports from all of the best institutions, we read the statements from all of the governments and agencies, but nowhere could we find a reasonable, rational, or plausible explanation of what was happening. We decided the only answer was the absurd.

Ever since Alice had slipped down the Rabbit Hole, the news had been getting curiouser and curiouser. She found herself at a very large table where the March Hare, a dormouse, a hippopotamus, and the Mad Hatter were having tea.

The Hatter was telling a story about how George W. TweedleDum had just got back from a trip to India, where he was promising to give away shiny new nuclear technology. At the same time, TweedleDee had been getting very red-faced at the United Nations about some shiny new nuclear technology in Iran that he wanted taken away. He broke off his story to wave an empty teapot at Alice.

“Would you like less tea, my dear?”

“Don’t you mean more tea?” asked Alice politely.

“No no no no. We don’t have any “more tea” we only have “less tea.” And it’s very rude to ask for what we don’t have. Now, would you like some more Peaceful Nuclear Technology and Less Nuclear Weapons to go with that?”

“Umm, yes please” said Alice, thinking this must be the correct answer and not wanting to upset the Hatter again.

“There you go again, asking for what we can’t possibly give you!” cried the Hatter, springing to his feet.

“How about some safe, clean nuclear power instead?” offered the dormouse helpfully.

“That sounds quite nice, I suppose,” said Alice with some hesitation.

“Wrong answer! No such thing!” the Hatter shouted with glee, politely adding “One lump or two?”

Alice was quite put out. “Isn’t it rude to offer something you don’t have?” asked Alice. “And even ruder to offer something that doesn’t exist? What kind of a tea party is this?”

“Why this is an IAEA Board of Governors meeting, my dear, and we’re having an NP Tea Party!” said the March Hare, glancing nervously at a very large watch which was chiming the hour by barking loudly.

“An NP Tea Party? What’s that?”

“It’s all very simple,” said the Hatter as he handed out slices of cake and then went around smacking everyone’s hand when they started eating it, “the NPT is a treaty in which the parties that have nuclear weapons agree to get rid of their nuclear weapons in exchange for the parties that don’t have nuclear weapons promising not to get nuclear weapons. As part of the incentive for not getting nuclear weapons they’re rewarded with the means to make nuclear weapons. Slice of Cake?”

Alice eyed the yellow cake suspiciously. She heard a distant voice shouting “Off with their heads!”

“Now, at the moment we’re discussing the case of Iran, which has signed the treaty and promised not to build nuclear weapons and so has been rewarded with the means to make nuclear weapons. But there are some people at this party who think that they’re actually using those means to make nuclear weapons as a means to make nuclear weapons.”

“Which they’ve said they don’t want…” said Alice.

“Oh yes, but as you of all people should know, my dear, saying what we mean isn’t always the same as meaning what we say. Saying that they aren’t making nuclear weapons is just what you’d expect them to do if they were making nuclear weapons. Proof enough.”

The Hatter took a slice of cake and pushed it into the face of the Hippo, who already had his mouth full. “You shouldn’t eat so much cake,” he sputtered.

George W. TweedleDum suddenly appeared. “Personically, I’d like to see less nuclear weapons in the world. Which is why I’m building more.”

“THAT’s the spirit!” cried the Hatter.

“But I don’t understand!” cried Alice. “If you can use nuclear power technology to make nuclear weapons, and you want to get rid of the nuclear weapons, shouldn’t you stop handing out the nuclear power technology?”

George W. TweedleDum patted Alice on the head. “You are an absurd little creature, aren’t you? Hatter, why don’t you explanify the Treaty thing?”

“The TREATY thing, yes yes, mustn’t forget that!” cried the Hatter as he absent-mindedly dipped the dormouse in his tea.

“Now you see on the one hand, Iran has signed the Non-treaty on Weapons Proliferation, and the Treaty on the Proliferation of Non-weapons Nuclear, and the Proliferation of Treaties on the Proliferation of Weapons, Non…”

“Which are all the same thing,” said the dormouse, yawning.

“So if THEY try to get nuclear weapons, that’s quite illegal and we must send them to the Queen of Hearts’ Security Council for punishment.”

“India, on the other hand,” said the Hatter holding up a second hand and dropping the teapot on the dormouse’s head, “has never signed the treaty, so their nuclear weapons are perfectly OK and they should be rewarded with more nuclear technology.”

“Pakistan, on the third hand,” and oddly the Hatter actually produce a third hand at this point, ” has never signed the treaty, but we’re not so sure about them, so we’re NOT going to reward them with more nuclear technology.”

George W. TweedleDum smiled broadly. “The lessonification here is never, never sign a treaty. That’s my motto. Lot of bother. I promise to keep my nuclear weapons and everybody else has to get rid of theirs unless I say they can keep them. That’s my kind of Treaty. I believe in maintaining high standards. I believe in maintaining high standards.”

“You said that twice.” said the Hatter.

“He has to say it twice,” said the dormouse. “It’s a double standard.”

The Hatter now declared it was time for a vote. “Now, who thinks we should send Iran to the Queen of Hearts? (“Off with their heads! came the cry from the garden next door again…) Everyone looked at the Hippo. The hippo started to raise his foot, and everyone in the party started to raise their hands. Or paws. Then the hippo put his foot down, and everyone in the party did the same. Then George W. TweedleDum took a large hatpin and quietly stuck it into the rather large backside of the Hippo, who jumped into the air with his foot raised, and everyone in the party followed suit.”

“There then, it’s settled, off to the Queen of Hearts with them!” sang the Hatter.

“Is that what you call democracy?” asked Alice curiously.

“Well it looks like democracy, but in reality the Hippo decides, and the Hippo just does what TweedleDum tells him to do” said the Hatter.

“Oh. I see,” said Alice. “I suppose then it’s not really a democracy at all, is it?”

“Well it’s just a very different kind of democracy, my dear. Some people call it a Hippocracy. Cake?”

On Terrorism and Meaning

This is now old news. Blasts in London- attributed again to ‘terrorists’. Its almost as though ‘terrorism’ is fashionable these days or worse a political excuse a cover-up that the public accepts. Trumpet ‘terrorism’ without understanding what it is about, what historically gave rise to it and what sustains it. I’m not condoning violence, let alone supporting it- but stop, think. What drives people to violence? When do you hit out a person? When reasoning with them no longer makes a difference.

Is there a point to reminding people that mass casualties have become commonplace in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran? That America is the only country to have used nuclear bombs in human history? That America is the only nation to have conducted a major war or carried out military coup in every decade? Since world war II America has systematically bombed China, Korea, Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, The Belgian Congo, Peru, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Libya, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Iraq, Bosnia, Sudan and Yugoslavia. Then of course there is its legacy of financing terrorists, conspiring with the CIA and then bombing nations to get rid of those very monsters they once fancied.

So terrorists to some are freedom-fighters to others. This Blog has a last line which caught my attention. It says something about ‘Islamic Terrorism’. I have a problem with that term. When Britain collaborates against international will with Bush- leader of America with a despicable human rights record to Bomb country after country without any real agenda aside of oil supremacy; I find it hard to buy that terrorism is Islamic. This is not about religion, it is about power. Most certainly this is also about terrorists, Bush and Blair masquerading as leaders– the greatest fascists of all time.

Political Choice

I wrote an article last night for a magazine- it essentially dealt with the notion of what is political and then developed an argument for why one must have their own brand of politics and more why we cannot and must not be apolitical. For me the reason and the evidence is rather plain. I live in the worlds largest democracy and yet I cannot live my life without fighting for my rights every single day. Nothing illustrates the poor political choice Indian better than this:

PM Manmohan Singh today said India was a responsible nuclear power which had declared no-first-use policy. I don’t quite understand this statement- its almost oxymoronish- how can a responsible nation be a nuclear weapons state and claim to be responsible? The only thing it is or rather will be responsible for will be genocide and by that time there will be no one left to take responsibility for. It was the Atal Bihari Vajpayee (BJP) government which had pushed into full force India’s nuclear doctrine.

While we in the peace movement have waited thus far, the UPA government has so far not said a word on drafting a fresh nuclear policy for India. If nothing else the PM’s statement today shows the UPA government is as much pro-nukes as the NDA. As far as nuclear weapons go not speaking out is as bad as saying yes to the other side.

Narmada through new glasses

Couple of years ago I spent a substantial amount of time in the Narmada Valley, I went there initially out of compulsion, stayed back out of choice. Saying that I was trying to “document” their struggle is really quite offensive for two reasons 1) That I cannot claim that much capability, detachment or indeed perspective for myself and 2) I doubt anyone can ever “document” the Narmada Struggle.

Narmada as a movement is a rare phenomenon, especially is it rare in a country like India where free speech is still languishing under the official secrets act. The reason I find the Narmada movement utterly fascinating aside of its courage, the outright atrocity and unfairness is the wide spectrum of reactions it has provoked. At one level this is what upsets me too. Activists oftentimes like to talk of overarching realities– large words like privatization, globalization and such… The Narmada too has been identified, pontificated upon and cast away as yet another example of the evils of trying to make *only* profit!

Let’s look at the facts: 1) The Nehruvian vision sets forth the big dam 2) The State chooses the World Bank as its funding source- The WB notorious for fraudulent deals and poor procedures 3) The state decides to continue funding the dam after WB pulls out 4) The state chooses Ogden and S Kumars to fund 5) The state fails miserably to rehabilitate any village/household or villager satisfactorily. Privatisation does not imply state chosen private funding, competition in this case would have been a free bid to different private companies to fund each of the many dams– if at all one believes that the Sardar Sarovar need to have been built.

Villages theoretically, could have fought in court for their property had they had any claims to ancestral land. Did they? No! So what is killing the villagers? Lack of property rights. And yet, people trumpet the whole leftist tune- as though the Nehruvian vision hasn’t taken enough lives yet.