Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Islands in the sun (or Rum, Sodomy and the Lash or land of rape and honey or you can take the boy out of an island but...)

Can you imagine discovering an Island in the middle of the south pacific? Just you, your bestfriends and a couple of hot island girls that you met along your travels? This land is essentially lawless, thats fine because you are all law abiding men (for the most part), you no longer have to answer to a boss (he was disposed of earlier) and its up to you when you work, when you rest, when you procreate. Its a veritable heaven...

This island is Pitcairn Island located right in the middle of the south pacific and lord does it hang heavy with vicious history.

In the year 1789 a man named Fletcher Christian tossed his commanding officer (the ships captain) on to a raft as demanded by his fellow officers. The unity of the ships men that had been created by the mutiny was short lived upon reaching the Island of Tahiti. This story has been depicted a million times by Hollywood, one of the more popular versions involves the anti semitic actor Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian. What is never really acknowledged is the story that occurs shortly after the mutiny...

At one point Fletcher Christian had found more than half of the Bounty's crew in support of him and his cause, upon his dispersal from the Island of Tahiti he had only 8 of the crew, 6 Tahitian men, 11 women and 1 child. Thankfully it was a short trip to Pitcairn Islands. As treason was considered a high crime punishable by death (abandoning the navy was considered treason) the new colonialists burned their ship in order to evade detection. A new home was found and the crew quickly settled in.

It makes one wonder why on earth would one agree to go on a trip, particularly a trip where you dont intend on coming back, where the men outnumber the women... Sailors are like dogs in heat at the best of times, one can only imagine how they react when they are gazing upon their neighbours wife, knowing that they are never going to meet another woman as they are on an uninhabited island out in the middle of the pacific ocean. Needless to say that the happiness was short lived. It was not long before one of the crew was responsible for breaking up a marriage between two Tahitians and a small scale war commenced. By the end of it in 1793, all but four of the original ships crew, ten of the tahitian men and several children had been killed. The names of these four men are still used by the current inhabitents of the island (along with some of the names of the dead). This of course will be touched on later in the article as it would seem that tradition seems to carry with family name.

The remaining four men, John Adams, Edward Young, Matthew Quintall and William McCoy did what any man would do if they found themselves with some time on their hands...drink. Not unlike several places in the south pacific there were roots that could be distilled into very potent drinks (most common concoction/root being Kava). Its intoxicating effects soon ran amuck with the four sailors minds. Half of the remaining women on the Island were made in to concubines for their 'great white rulers', the other half took their children and created a fortress away from the camp. The first to go was William McCoy, the initiator of the drinking binge. So unsatisfied with the islands outcome he jumped off a cliff. Not long after Quintall became insane with the drink and began to threaten every living being on the island. Young and Adams soon hatched a plan. Quintall had to be done away with, they were not going to put to death by a drunken madman (unlike themselves, drunken gentlemen they were). It was a long bitter death, having nothing but crude tools on the Island, Quintalls life was extinguished by way of axe. After Quintalls death Young was taken in by the women and children (good idea, he has consumption, thats not infectious) and Adams lived by himself on the far end of the Island amongst the wreckage that had been created.

It was amongst the wreckage that Adams found the ships bible that had been taken ashore by one of the other ship members. Unfortunately for Adams, he was illiterate and it took the return of the women, children and Young for him to understand its words. Shortly after educating (of sorts) Adams Young passed away. Adams was then the only adult male on the Island. He continued to drink. It was hardly surprising that one morning Adams claimed that he had religious awakening and soon the small population began practicing christian services.

Over the next few years there would be brief points of contact with members of the British goverment. For the most part the Islands and their community would be ignored as there were more important home issues such as the Napoleonic wars and a variety of other bits and pieces. Some of the outside world contact they would have would even be with some Americans. These same Americans would lead the community to religious conversion, abandoning the Church of England, the small community of Pitcairn would become Seventh Day Adventists.

Still today you see the names Brown, Christian, Adams, Young, McCoy amongst the islanders. It would also seem that not only did they carry on their names but they carried on their brutal legacies.

In 2004 seven of the 45 islanders stood trial for sexual abuse dating back almost 40 years. The islanders were hand in their guns as there were concerns that a riot might brake out during the proceedings. Several of the accused included the islands mayor Steve Christian (a descendent of Fletcher Christian) and his own son, Randy. Some of the charges had been sexual interference with a child under the age of eight as well as a variety of rapes. Six of the seven men were convicted, the islands magistrate, Jay Warren was set free. Just recently, October in fact, their convictions were upheld. Thankfully the most time anyone did was about 6 years. Fphew, thank god, godforbid they be punished for tradition. Speculation is rarely a good tool for investigation, however one might suspect that inbreeding may have been involved in all of this...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Personality by the bucketful.

Now that is a healthy head of hair.

North America (and in fact, North Americans) have a vague text book idea of what is involved in a cult of personality. It seems almost like a cartoonish concept that might be conceived by a caricature of a science fiction villain used to scare the villagers below. It should however be noted that in fact some of the worlds most vicious tyrants have almost turned concept the cult of personality into an art (we dont include Mao Tsetung in this one cuz that was primarily Warhols doing, awful joke, i know).

One of the most ignored, yet colorful of such rulers was the recently departed Saparmurat Niyazov. Born from the shocking poverty of central asia came a man that could be described as one part Liberace, one part Imelda Marcos and one part Stalin. Needless to say this equals a recipe for fun!

Turkmenistan lies to the right of the Caspian sea and is sandwiched between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to the north and Iran and Afghanistan to the south. The population of Turkmenistan just like much of the other countries in the area are a rich mix of local tribes and ethnicities (primarily Turkmen and Uzbekistani, some Russki's thrown in for good measure). Its not uncommon for most (if not all) countries in this region to fall into ex-soviet hands after the fall of the USSR. Turkmenistan being hardly an exception to the rule, Niyazov took rule almost immediately after glasnost/perestroika. It wasnt much longer after that that he also named himself "Turkmenbashi" or in english, the leader of all ethnic turks and why not? He HAD won the 'election'. Please note the quotation marks around the word election, those are supposed to denote a tone of sarcasm.

Like any good leader it was necessary for him to let the people know who was truly boss. What better way is there to show the general public that youre the boss than by posting posters and paintings of you everywhere. Stalin did it, so did Hitler and Mao and they were all fairly successful in their work. Why not one up those suckers anyways... it could be suggested that perhaps you build a gold statue of yourself on the tallest building in your capitol city. Just to spice it up, you should make it rotate 24 hours a day with the sun. Thatd be really bitching. Seriously. Niyazov did this.

That is the fucking statue

The best part is that noone is going to stop you. Its not because you carry the threatening title of 'Turkmenbashi' or because of your impecable taste (you banned the following: Ballet, beards, long hair and music) but because you, hold one of the worlds largest supplies of oil. Please also take this as encouragement to rename several days of the week and if necessary a month (as well as buildings, planes and a meteorite) after your beloved mother (and self, its nice to switch it up every once in a while).

Initially Turkmenistan, although a predominently desert country, had out produced its neighbours in the 1980s and 90s in the cotton industry. However, as of late its crops had begun to diminish and it was now time to focus on its golden goose, gasoline. It wasnt long before old friendships were refreshed. Its here that Niyazov's old buddy Russia (and distant cousin Ukraine) step into the picture. Needless to say both are very hungry for oil and gas and are willing to do quite a bit to receive it (not unlike a sick crackhead). The true question is what is going to happen to this country and what is Russia (and to a lesser extent the Ukraine) going to do about it?

Russia has been in the spotlight as of recent with accusations of partaking in activities of the espionage variety and have not been particularly shy about supporting dictators in the past. Even today there are huge human rights issues with regards to how it is carrying itself in Chechnya. The next question will be how and where do Western Europe and North America fit in? This isnt to mention the fact that the neighbouring countries have been in an uproar (particularly Iran and Afghanistan). There is a giant gaping hole in Turkmenistan waiting to be filled and noone with any credibility to fill it.