Monday, January 31, 2005


David Farrar disses Alexander as the second greatest general in the History of the World, the first being one Gaius Julius Caesar. With the Greatest of Possible Respect for David, he's gone off the Deep End. I made this determination objectively because my favourite ancients general, Hannibal, is disqualified because he lost his last battle and wasted many years in Italy.

Julius Caesar won primarily through conquering France Gaul, a task which was made easy by the Gauls being french disunited. Julius's victory in the subsequent Civil Wars was largely due to Pompey taking flight when Julius crossed the Rubicon. Capturing Rome gave Julius an advantage which he never lost.

Alexander, on the other hand, had to take on the Hyperpower of his time. Not only were the Persians have bigger armies but they also had more greek phalanxes on their side than Alex had on his. Furthermore while Julius conquered Gaul, Alexander fought his way through Anatolia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Lebanon and the Indus Valley.

It is clear then that in terms of generalship, the best general of the classical age is Alexander. Where Julius comes out tops is his political ability, that he established a form of government (ie. dictator-for-life) that held the empire together for the next five hundred (or fifteen hundred) years.

Oh, there was a movie involved but it's so bad, I've given it a miss.

The Iraqi Elections

I've been following thge Iraqi elections via the net ever since the polls opened and I'm encouraged by the high turnout (except apparently in the Sunni triangle) and the low number of deaths (about 20) so far. As of writing, the polls are due to close in four hours time and the turnout figures available sometime afterwards. The results themselves won't be known for another ten or so days which is quicker than the months we had to endure for the Canterbury District Health Board election. But for me, the most striking and surreal moment came from the Basran woman who thanked "the Prophet Mohammed and George W. Bush" for bringing the election about.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

A new cure for insomnia?

According to the Press (article not on-line), the upgrades to the Christchurch City Council Chambers will allow ratepayers to watch the council proceedings via the internet. Although for $800,000 dollars in total, I will be very upset if the technology was just strategically placed webcams.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Flag Change petition

A petition is being circulated to change the N.Z. Flag. While the organizers have a case that the flag needs to be changed, a big problem is that none of the proposed flags look very good.

I don't have any particular alternative to make but I do have the strong feeling that the Southern Cross should be retained. Our country was flying the Southern Cross long before the Australian Commonwealth and even before the states of Victoria and Melbourne put the constellation on their own flags. Hence if anybody needs to drop the Southern Cross to make their flags more distinction, it should be the Australians.

Lastly, but not the least, I was disgusted by the organizer's idiotic comments on TVNZ news. He declared that a good reason for the change was to distinguish between Australian and Kiwi troops because our military policy was now "poles apart" and that a sniper would find it difficult to tell the difference between the two flags. However if a sniper were to be in the situation where he could be firing upon an Australian or a New Zealander, then the two countries are there for the same reason (as recently happened in the Solomons Islands, Afghanistan, post-war Iraq and East Timor). Hence the sniper wouldn't really care what country his prospective victim came from. More importantly, is that when Kiwi troops are wearing field dress, they wear a black and white brassard (scroll down) with the image of a kiwi and the words "New Zealand".