Saturday, March 29, 2014
Below is Amerigo Vespucci Writing (extract only) About Newly Discovered Islands In 1503 In The West Indies. This great explorer's name became translated to the feminine which became the name that America adopted in honour of his feats and discoveries.
We anchored with our ships at a distance of a league and a half from the shore. We got out the boats, and, filled with armed men, we pulled them to the shore. Before we arrived we had seen many men walking along the beach, at which we were much pleased; and we found that they were naked, and they showed fear of us, I believe because we were dressed and of a different stature. They all fled to a hill, and, in spite of all the signs of peace and friendship that we made, they would not come to have intercourse with us. As night was coming on, and the ship was anchored in a dangerous place, off an open unsheltered coast, we arranged to get under weigh the next day, and to go in search of some port or bay where we could make our ships secure. We sailed along the coast to the north, always in sight of land, and the people went along the beach. After two days of navigation we found a very secure place for the ships, and we anchored at a distance of half a league from the land, where we saw very many people. We went on shore in the boats on the same day, and forty men in good order landed. The natives were still shy of us, and we could not give them sufficient confidence to induce them to come and speak with us. That day we worked so hard with this object by giving them our things, such as bells, looking-glasses, and other trifles, that some of them took courage and came to treat with us. Having established a friendly understanding, as the night was approaching we took leave of them, and returned on board. Next day, at dawn, we saw that there were an immense number of people on the beach, and that they had their women and children with them. We went on shore, and found that they all came laden with their food supplies, which are such as will be described in their place. Before we arrived on shore, many of them swam out to receive us at a cross-bow shot's distance; for they are great swimmers, and they showed as much confidence as if we had been having intercourse with them for a long time; and we were pleased at seeing their feelings of security.
What we knew of their life and customs was that they all go naked, as well the men as the women, without covering anything, no otherwise than as they come out of their mothers' wombs. They are of medium stature, and very well proportioned. The colour of their skins inclines to red, like the skin of a lion, and I believe that, if they were properly clothed, they would be white like ourselves. They have no hair whatever on their bodies, but they have very long black hair, especially the women, which beautifies them. They have not very beautiful faces, because they have broad faces, which make them look like Tartars. They do not allow any hairs to grow on their eyebrows, nor eyelashes, nor in any other part except on the head, for they hold hairiness to be a filthy thing.
They are very agile in their persons, both in walking and running, as well the men as the women; and think nothing of running a league or two, as we often witnessed; and in this they have a very great advantage over us Christians. They swim wonderfully well, and the women better than the men; for we have found and seen them many times two leagues at sea, without any thing to rest upon. *
Their arms are bows and arrows, well made, except that they have no iron, nor any other kind of hard metal. Instead of iron they use teeth of animals or of fish, or a bit of wood well burnt at the point. They are sure shots, and where they aim they hit. In some places the women use these bows. They have other weapons like lances, hardened by fire, and clubs with the knobs very well carved. They wage war among themselves with people who do not speak their language, carrying it on with great cruelty, giving no quarter, if not inflicting greater punishment. When they go to war they take their women with them; not because they fight, but because they carry the provisions in rear of the men. A woman carries a burden on her back, which a man would not carry, for thirty or forty leagues, as we have seen many times. They have no leader, nor do they march in any order, no one being captain. The cause of their wars is not the desire of rule nor to extend the limits of their dominions, but owing to some ancient feud that has arisen among them in former times. When asked why they made war, they have no other answer than that it is to avenge the death of their ancestors and their fathers. They have neither king nor lord, nor do they obey anyone, but live in freedom. Having moved themselves to wage war, when the enemy have killed or captured any of them, the oldest relation arises and goes preaching through the streets and calling upon his countrymen to come with him to avenge the death of his relation, and thus he moves them by compassion. They do not bring men to justice, nor punish a criminal. Neither the mother nor the father chastise their children, and it is wonderful that we never saw a quarrel among them. They show themselves simple in their talk, and are very sharp and cunning in securing their ends. They speak little, and in a low voice. They use the same accents as ourselves, forming their words either on the palate, the teeth, or the lips, only they have other words for things. Great is the diversity of languages, for in a hundred leagues we found such change in the language that the inhabitants could not understand each other.
Their mode of life is very barbarous, for they have no regular time for their meals, but they eat at any time that they have the wish, as often at night as in the day—indeed, they eat at all hours. They take their food on the ground, without napkin or any other cloth, eating out of earthen pots which they make, or out of half calabashes. They sleep in certain very large nets made of cotton, and suspended in the air; and if this should seem a bad way of sleeping, I say that it is pleasant to sleep in that manner, and that we slept better in that way than in coverlets. They are a people of cleanly habits as regards their bodies, and are constantly washing themselves. When they empty the stomach they do everything so as not to be seen, and in this they are clean and decent; but in making water they are dirty and without shame, for while talking with us they do such things without turning round, and without any shame. They do not practice matrimony among them, each man taking as many women as he likes, and when he is tired of a woman he repudiates her without either injury to himself or shame to the woman, for in this matter the woman has the same liberty as the man. They are not very jealous, but lascivious beyond measure, the women much more so than the men. I do not further refer to their contrivances for satisfying their inordinate desires, so that I may not offend against modesty. They are very prolific in bearing children, and in their pregnancy they are not excused any work whatever. The parturition is so easy, and accompanied by so little pain, that they are up and about the next day. They go to some river to wash, and presently are quite well, appearing on the water like fish. If they are angry with their husbands they easily cause abortion with certain poisonous herbs or roots, and destroy the child. Many infants perish in this way. They are gifted with very handsome and well-proportioned bodies, and no part or member is to be seen that is not well formed. Although they go naked, yet they are fleshly women, and, of their sexual organ, that portion which he who has never seen it may imagine, is not visible, for they conceal with their thighs everything except that part for which nature did not provide, which is, speaking modestly, the pectignone. Yet there no one cares, for the same impression is made on them at seeing anything indecent as is made on us at seeing a nose or mouth. Among them it is considered strange if a woman has wrinkles on the bosom from frequent parturition, or on the belly. All parts are invariably preserved after the parturition as they were before. They showed an excessive desire for our company.
We did not find that these people had any laws; they cannot be called Moors nor Jews, but worse than pagans.
For we did not see that they offered any sacrifices, nor have they any place of worship. I judge their lives to be Epicurean. Their habitations are in common. Their dwellings are like huts, but strongly built of very large trees, and covered with palm leaves, secure from tempests and winds. In some places they are of such length and width that we found 600 souls in one single house. We found villages of only thirteen houses where there were 4,000 inhabitants. They build the villages every eight or ten years, and when asked why they did this, they replied that it was because the soil was corrupted and infected, and caused diseases in their bodies, so they chose a new site. Their wealth consists of the feathers of birds of many colours, or rosaries made of the fins of fishes, or of white or green stones, which they wear on their necks, lips, and ears; and of many other things which have no value for us. They have no commerce, and neither buy nor sell. In conclusion, they live, and are content with what nature has given them.
THE assistant commissioner came out to the gate to meet me. He was accompanied by a detective superintendent from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation.
The two men escorted me through the front yard of Garda headquarters, in the Phoenix Park. The assistant commissioner was welcoming, although my presence must have been one giant pain in the neck for him.
I was there for an interview. The previous week, the newspaper for which I worked, The Sunday Tribune, had published a major story, claiming that an insurance firm used serving gardaí as claims agents.
Conor McMorrow, who now reports on politics for RTÉ, and myself were responsible for the report. Its implications were of such gravity that the then minister for justice, Michael McDowell, immediately called in the garda commissioner and ordered an investigation. This was in 2006, not long before the garda ombudsman opened for business.
I was brought up a grand staircase to a boardroom with high ceilings and elaborate cornices, where hung large portraits of past commissioners and senior figures in the force.
The three of us sat at one end of a long and expensive dining table, and the interview began. It was the most incongruous place imaginable to be interviewed as part of a major garda investigation.
Of course, the whole thing was a sham. They knew I’d no intention of saying where McMorrow and I had got the story. But we went through the formalities, the superintendent writing out my statement in long-hand, both men trying hard to look interested and engaged, considering the seriousness of the matter.
Afterwards, the assistant commissioner saw me out to the gate again and he couldn’t have been more cordial. I left that day telling myself that an investigation run by these nice, and obviously highly competent officers, might actually bear fruit.
Some weeks later, another interview was conducted, this time in the less salubrious surroundings of an interview room in Mountjoy station.
The two detectives involved didn’t try as hard to look interested.
Further weeks later, I was called again. This time, the interview was more informal, in a pub in Ballymun. The two detectives were new to me. Now and then, one of them scribbled a few words on a folded sheet of paper. I realised that a lot of officers, and hours, were being nominally invested in this inquiry, into what could be a scandal of major garda malpractice.
By then, wiser heads had put me right. Nothing would come of the investigation. It didn’t matter a whit whether the story was correct or not. It certainly didn’t matter that some insurance claimants may have been intimidated by the sight of somebody they recognised as a garda appearing at their door, representing an insurance company.
All that mattered was that this had the potential for scandal, and, therefore, it wouldn’t see the light of day.
An investigation ordered by the minister for justice would be resourced to the hilt, and a full report compiled, but the outcome would never be in doubt: move along now, nothing to see here.
A few months before my visit to garda HQ, I was present at the ultimate outcome of another garda investigation. The murder of Rachel O’Reilly had become a huge national story. Her husband, Joe, had appeared on the Late Late Show with Rachel’s parents to appeal for help in catching the killer. Subsequently, he had been arrested and charged with the murder.
The trial was one of the first to feature mobile-phone technology, used in this case to trace Joe O’Reilly’s movements on the day of the murder. Huge resources were deployed in the investigation.
The courtroom was packed when the jury returned its verdict, late on a Friday evening. When the guilty verdict was announced, the room exploded in a triumphant roar. It was highly inappropriate for a courtroom, and particularly a murder trial, but the momentary lapse of reason was entirely human. Members of Rachel O’Reilly’s family turned to some of the gardaí who had been involved and hugged them. More than one officer was in tears.
That case had been an example of members of the force working beyond the call of duty, in the best traditions of policing, comforting victims with their application, and doggedly pursing wrongdoing.
On the ground, at the more routine level of policing, many will recognise the type of gardaí who do a good and conscientious job. (There are others who are either incompetent or lazy. That’s not unique to the gardaí, but is more problematic, because of the repercussions such shortcomings have for citizens and the victims of crime).
The raft of scandals over the last number of months will have impacted on the morale of good cops, although I have been contacted by some officers who are welcoming of anything that might lead to a cultural shift in the force.
The prevailing culture resembled nothing as much as that within the Catholic Church. In both cases, the foot soldiers, to a large extent, enjoyed the confidence of the community. Their respective briefs were straightforward and morally correct. They were largely on the side of right.
At the upper echelons, the moral compass was all over the shop. When bad things happened, the main thing was to avoid scandal; to place the institution above reproach, whatever the cost; to keep the power intact.
Any dirty linen was washed internally, and if everybody didn’t emerge smelling of roses, well, that was nobody else’s business one way or the other.
In such an environment, those within the ranks who are less than morally upright have the potential to stray, knowing that they can act with impunity.
Before too long, the moral fibre of an organisation is eaten away from within.
The events of the last week within the force have been seismic. A commissioner has been forced out of the job, to a certain extent because of the actions of a lowly sergeant challenging the prevailing culture. Without the dogged pursuit of wrongdoing by Maurice McCabe, there never would have been the controversies that precipitated the commissioner’s departure.
The controversies have also, finally, led to a point where some form of policing authority will replace the direct control of the force by politicians. This is a basic measure, required if the negative aspects of the prevailing culture are to be tackled.
Martin Callinan’s career didn’t end the way he would have liked. He may well have been shafted by his political masters. But the manner of his departure has finally opened up the way for a new dawn on the force. Not withstanding the very good record of the interim commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, the first positive move would be to opt for an appointment from outside the force to fill the vacant job.
I knew a man once who had a rather nasty pit bull who only answered to one man and that was to him. One day while in company with him and the pit bull a guy we both knew recoiled in front of the dog as it strained on the leash with fury in his eyes and a bark that heralded impending doom. Trevor asked the man with barely concealed glee was he afraid of the dog, suggesting the man was a coward along with being terrified. The insult found its mark as the man departed in a hurry. I rounded on Trevor and told him that that was a bad choice of words to use against the man for it suggested that he was a coward for just being rightly alarmed at this vicious pit bull. The penny dropped for it was only when I said that did Trevor realize what he had done and a simple message was passed to a good friend young enough to be my son. Since then, now ten years ago, I have been aware that passive aggression is everywhere and often hidden so well that it is barely noticeable.
In Ireland, begrudgery, small mindedness, and jealousy is normally the adopted parents of passive aggression, though it is a universal pastime. The people who use passive aggression as a blood sport are less than you think and to the friends that they don’t have.
One example is when someone asks are you working while knowing you are not, or tells you that your house is too small for the beautiful kitchen you just put in which you slaved to save to do it, or opines with false humility the destruction of an honest man trying make a decent living. One man told me as I enjoyed a beautiful clear day that winter would not be long now coming, though I think in hindsight that he was his own victim of negative thinking. While admiring a mans success recently of building his business from scratch another said to me that he got it soft while suggesting he got the land for free and money to do the essentials as well. There is a remedy of course for passive aggressive, sort of anyway.
It is always best to hide in open view, have a good yet busy life, tell the truth and always keep your word. Sooner or later people will know the difference between that which is a lie and what is the truth, and the passive aggressions of one’s nature will only be left to tell it to the trees and they are normally too busy to care anyway.
By Barry Clifford
“All the problems of the world could be settled easily if men were only willing to think. The trouble is that men very often resort to all sorts of devices in order not to think, because thinking is such hard work.”
Thomas J Watson
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.”
C S Lewis
“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive”
“You can stop a thief but not a liar. It is much worse when they are both.”
“The liar was the hottest to defend his veracity, the coward his courage, the ill-bred his gentlemanliness, and the cad his honour”
“A liar only uses the truth when they want their lies to sound truthful and one lie can tarnish a thousand truths”
“He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truth’s without the world believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions.”
“When the lies are all old and forgot the truth will still be there yet.”
Cormac Mc Carthy
“My father always told me that what’s wrong with lying is that it is an admission of weakness. If you’re the strongest, you can afford to tell the truth.”
K J Parker
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
When you look at the now former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan's face, it is hard not to compare it to being permanently non-plussed. A ‘yes’ man in every way was the only reason he ever got his appointment and a “disgusting” man in relation to how he treated whistleblowers while using that same word to describe them. In the end Martin Callinan only proved one thing: that he was indeed a sheep in sheep's clothing
And go he has gone from a force that he thought independent, mercenary and beyond strong criticism and rebuke. Even his parting words cannot hide this idiots true state of mind for not only does he believe his own words, many Gardai believe them too, for this is what Callinan said on the way out the exit door: “I would like to thank the members of an Garda Siochana who I worked with during my time as Commissioner for their support and willingness to adapt for the benefit of the citizens of the State. “
So Martin Callinan thanks them for doing what they had sworn to do when they joined the force in the first place except that was not even remotely true. The "benefit of the citizens of the State" was the last thing on their mind unless you were their relation or friend or drinking chum. They have not adapted to change except run down without mercy and good cop that tried to expose their elitism and Opus Dei tactics. The Gestapo and the former KGB would be proud of the latest revelations that nipped at the heel of this clown as he slithered into his getaway car and fat pension after he got past the exit door; it was only then that we learned that for over thirty years the police were taping the phone calls between Lawyer and client even before the were charged with any crimes in almost every police station in the land.
This makes the penalty points fiasco seem like a sleep walk in the park, for, as I had predicted, before this proverbial shit hit the fan that there was more to come. I had come to the conclusion then, that because of the heavy handedness by the police tactics to squash the whistleblowers over the penalty points issue, that there had to be something more rotten being covered up. After today, this may be a great understatement no matter what comes down the road.
What all of this has proved and continues to prove is that the police of this land have been aloud to run rough shod over peoples rights and of due process. This is the only the end of the beginning of trying to regain, at least the fundamentals of the rights of the citizen, under the umbrella or the perception that there is equal justice for all.
By Barry Clifford