#pride

The power of last place at Invictus

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Here is a picture of Dutch Invictus athlete, Alina Zoet. She was in the Women’s Heavy Weightlifting today. She finished stone cold last. However she got the biggest cheers and dragged out what is so important at Invictus. She had to bench press 50kg.  She failed first go. When she failed the second time she burst into tears as a failure. Distraught wasn’t even close to capturing her emotions. The packed crowd applauded her none-the-less. She was giving her best

Third attempt. Bundle of nerves. Crowd going absolutely bonkers in support.  Then silence as she prepared her last attempt. The bar comes down.  Her left side was letting her down again. The crowd goes completely apeshit as she battled with the bar. Two whites and one red light. Alina has done it! While the Aussie lifters cleared the podium for medals everyone in that hall knew the biggest winner had been the last place. But a personal best and tears of being unconquered. An emotional moment.

We got to congratulate her afterwards and she was overwhelmed with tears of joy. It was powerful.

As a general observation just wandering around the games, the sheer number of prosthetic limbs boggles the mind. Yet those who have them aren’t moaning about all the garbage that clogs our social media feeds on how hard we think we have it. We’ve got it easy.

Deepest respect for those who serve.

If you’re going to do it then stop the damn subtlety

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What is the obsession Hollywood has of trying to either wipe history or work to overlay irrelevance to rewrite it? Quit the subtle overtones. Just explicitly state your intent and let the free market box office judge it. When it comes to factual recreations like Dunkirk what is the point of wailing there were not enough people of colour in it when history shows us 99% of those that served were white? What does this achieve? Why not complain that 50% of the cast weren’t women waiting for the boats in the film? Probably because 99.9% on Dunkirk were men.

The latest Star Wars film was all about social justice, equality and identity. It has been a flop. Why can’t we just see a movie with lasers and goodies vs baddies? Should we fear alienating the LGBT Ewok community? Perhaps the sand people are really misunderstood minorities not terrorists? Shouldn’t Jabba the Hut seek compensation for decades of fat shaming? It is insane. Funnily enough when studying the box office takings we don’t need to look far to see the winners of the “Best Picture” selected by Hollywood in recent times have far undershot records. $100m box offices were a cert for an Oscar Best Picture award til 2004 after which it has been hit and miss since. 9 films in the last 13 have failed to breach $75mn. So instead of Hollywood being so preoccupied with espousing politics, perhaps it should look to the audience it ‘preaches’ to and starts ‘reaching’ them instead.

These are the Oscar stats. A 40% decline in viewers over 5 years. Is this a sign of a format that is no longer sustainable? Is the disintermediation/disruption caused by video on demand such that making a ‘date’ to go to the cinema is no longer a priority? Cinema attendance in the domestic US market is back at 1993 levels. In the 1990s Hollywood made 400-500 films annually. It now pumps out more than 700. The average revenue per film continues to head south.

So Man on the Moon depicts the story of Neil Armstrong. The film leaves out the historic and defining moment of planting the flag (a sign of American exceptionalism) some 50 years ago in beating arch enemy Russia in the space race. In 1969, had a straw poll of Americans (and much of the world) been taken at that moment it would have undoubtedly reflected unbridled pride in achievement. Many around the world must have looked at America in awe. What on earth is wrong with that? It was a stunning achievement and feat of ingenuity, science and invention.

Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong, said the moon landing “transcended countries and borders.” To a degree he is right. The world stood still on that day. Walter Cronkite had tears in his eyes. Yert should Jamaicans feel guilty that Usain Bolt won the 100m & 200m finals in three consecutive Olympics? There is no doubt the world looked in awe of him grinning with shoelaces untied as he jogged to the finish line. Yet for Jamaicans it was an extra dollop of pride. Great!

However Gosling’s defence of leaving out the flag scene was to cast aspersions on America. It is part of this new breed of Hollywood loathing of everything good. Where globalism trumps national pride. If the producers of this film hate America so much why not make the movie about a conspiracy theory that the moon landing was faked? Alternatively make Armstrong a disabled, black, transgender Muslim to ensure enough PC boxes are ticked to please the apparatchiks?

CM only requests Hollywood quits with subtle jabs at success and openly embraces its quest for shared misery and the rewriting of history. Only then will they see their box office numbers judge their stupidity. Grow up! Understand that pride in one’s country, flag, job, study or whatever else is to be encouraged. We need more of it not Hollywood’s obsession with oppression.

ANZAC Lt. Peterson’s letters from the WW2 battlefields

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Here are some excerpts from my grandfather’s letters of what it was like on the battlefields –

TOBRUK – 1941

We were wakened by the drone of Italian bombers which have a distinctive note and easily recognizable at night…we heard 1/2 dozen explosions & wondered what they would be bombing…about 30 minutes later we got a message to go immediately to the prisoner of war compound as they had been bombed…

…it was a most ghastly sight imaginable. The prisoners without blankets were huddled together for warmth and had lit fires and their own planes had dropped big 500lb bombs…

…there were bits of bodies everywhere, like a slaughterhouse – brains, livers, arms, trunks. I couldn’t describe it. The bombs landed right into the huddled mass of prisoners & blown them to pieces. The doctors and the boys worked like Trojans doing amputations in the field. Arms and legs were put in a stack like a wood heap and to make it worse some desert dogs were having a feast on the remains. On of our blokes was doing an Italian, who had his arm just hanging by a bit of tissue, hacked the arm off with a jack knife. When he returned a bloody dog had the arm in his mouth. And was streaking over the hill when an MP shot it with his revolver. We worked all that day and through the night & done around 300 operations on the spot. Near one bomb crater we shoveled bits and pieces in the hole and covered it in…it is not so much the shrapnel but the concussion that does the damage”

CRETE -1941

”we were in an olive grove with wounded men under every tree before we got word to get going and they gave us hell here, the guns tipped toward the men under the trees and straked is with machine guns. I nearly took a soilly here. I heard a plane roaring down & looking up saw a Messerschmitt 109 diving straight for me. You should have seen me move. I dived for the nearest tree and just got there before he opened up with his machine guns (6 of them, 3 in each wing).  The chatter of them was deafening as he flew as low as 100ft from me, the b———-d…any man on Crete who never prayed was a bloody liar…

…anyway I had the job of getting 300 walking wounded to the beach which was 45 miles away (they told us 7)…what a march keeping our movement secret & taking cover by day and moving only at night…the hours of daylight would drive you crazy…a road was being done over by Junkers 87s and heard Jerries trench mortars landing very close so I said to Kev & Bill “let’s go” daylight or not I was moving. Bill told me he’d had enough and couldn’t stand it any longer then I noticed for the first time he was bomb happy (shell shock) his head was  nodding nineteen to the dozen, eyes staring and hands shaking…

…water was scarce. My mouth like blotting paper and we were in rotten condition until we came across a bombed truck so we drank the radiator water (rust, oil and all). It was like nectar…I never thought hunger was so crook…I couldn’t keep my mind off food, even dreamt of it and of the crusts I’d wasted (Kev admitted the same)

NEW GUINEA – 1942

Meanwhile Private Jenkins was sent through by jeep to act as a guide…however about 50yds from the corner; a sustained burst of MG fire whistled around us which was tragically funny as I looked behind to see the boys moving up the track. After the burst I dived for cover in the tall Kumai grass and when I looked back there wasn’t a man to be seen because when I dived they all dived too. We stayed about 1/4 hour and I decided I couldn’t stay all day so I decided to risk it and make a dash for it…a man every two minutes…without mock heroics my knees were knocking as I got to my feet and darted 200 yards long and expected to get one in the guts at any moment…

…to my sorrow around the corner we came across poor George Jenkins who had been the guide- shot-our first casualty and we’d only been in the place 5 minutes and a sniper had got him. The bullet had plowed through his scalp from ear to eye and his face was a mess. Poor bugger. All he was worrying about was that he wasn’t able to tell us about the snipers and was we alright? I slipped a shell dressing on his skull and carried him back – lucky bugger he’ll go home now…

…this bloody war is a terrible mental strain. You can get shot anywhere with snipers (who never live more than two hours anyway after they’ve climbed the trees) because our boys comb the branches with Brens and they dangle like rabbits from their perch). I’ve lost about 2 stone since I’ve been in action here. It’s tough believe me….

….as we were coming back (it was dark) I am in front treading safely- a stick cracks and we prop, listen and sneak on. When I tripped over a wire stretched across the path I went cold with terror – a booby trap…I flopped to Mother Earth waiting for the explosion – which never materialized. Quickly as possible we moved on fearing a delayed action grenade…the trouble with the front line is that it is so fluid that they are everywhere…

Another letter from New Guinea

Are we giving the Japanese fighting boys a belting!!…yesterday when our 25 pounders started up behind us was it accurate? I’ll say. The Japanese scattered in all directions squealing like girls were blown to shred..they hate our mortars. You can hear them quite plainly in the bush screaming and squealing like animals when our mortars lob on them and as they bunch together like sheep and don’t disperse it’s like shooting clay pigeons…

...I’m not exaggerating when I tell you the fighting is going on at a 20 yard range yet you can’t see them and they can’t see us. A patrol will he on the track and meet a patrol of Japanese suddenly 5 yards away. It’s a case of whose quicker on the draw. Our boys have really got Nippon beat at this game they seem dull witted and before they wake up, our blokes have generally riddled them…

…I’m applying for a recommendation for decoration for two of my blokes – Nicol and Lennar to the OC as they’ve done a marvelous job. Hope they click although honestly every man in the show deserves one

The tragedy which revealed even in death the mainstream media wants clickbait

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I remember 2:46pm on March 11, 2011 like it was yesterday. On the 20th floor of my then company it was swaying like a palm tree in a hurricane. The building next door which was built in 1974 didn’t meet the latest earthquake codes and it oscillated in the reverse and I swore it was going to hit. For the life of me I wasn’t scared. The brain is spinning too fast to keep uP with data it’s never encountered before. Yet, I like many others, were lucky. 16,000 were wiped out by a tsunami and 370,000 homes destroyed. Then the nuke disaster that followed.

The sad part of the disaster was the reckless media eager for sensational click bait. Reporting empty supermarkets, panic and general mayhem. My experience was the opposite. It was orderly, polite, selfless and supermarkets were replenished almost immediately. My former company held drinks every night for clients who stayed in the thick of it while many competitors fled (some with proper business continuity plans) in fear of their lives. Even senior managers (known as fly-jin) paid a king’s ransom deserted their troops. It was a disgrace.

I said to family, friends and clients alike that the further you got from the reactor the more hysterical the reporting became. People wearing masks because of the hay fever season were reported as trying to filter out nuclear fallout. A plane was reported to have higher radiation levels than normal but when the payload was studied it was carrying x-ray equipment.  One journalist from the Daily Mail stumbled on the pub we hosted drinks at and wanted us to paint a picture of horror but we have him such  a bollocking that he was lucky to escape us. I said “why not report the truth? You might find your readers will discern from the rubbish they’re reading now which is causing many trying to cope more anguish.”

I can handle fake news when it comes to politics but when it comes to massive loss of life you’d hope humankind would take a rational approach to reporting the truth. Alas they can’t help being attention whores. I shall forever remain in awe of the truth and how proud I was of the Japanese ability to endure such pain in so orderly a fashion. That’s why I love this place for all of its foibles.

A happy tale(nt) among all the gloomy headlines

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Amid all the gloom and doom in today’s headlines, it is sometimes nice to reflect on what goodness there is in the world especially those who are given an opportunity to shine against all of the self-entitled people that live among us. Gustavo Dudamel is a Venezuelan composer who brought together the undiscovered talents of kids from Venezuela’s least fortunate areas and through the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar made magic. What these kids, who in many cases hadn’t a lick of musical training, transformed into well – judge for yourselves. It is astonishing that in a world of virtue signaling, these kids took an opportunity through benevolent philanthropists and knocked it out of the park because they saw that persistence, hard work and fun can be turned into a talent rather than moaning for someone to feel sorry for them. Bravo. How could you not feel pride? Even if you aren’t a fan of classical music I won’t be the least bit surprised if you end up buying an album.