Day 135: Thanks for that, Dad

Day 135: Thanks for that, Dad

May 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Andorra, France, Spain, The Odyssey Expedition

15.05.09:

Early-early-sickly-feeling start to the day, and onto the 5:20 bus to the Andorran border. Quick change of buses and by about 8am I was in Andorra – another of Europe’s pub-quiz-winning, micro-states. It’s slap-bang on the border with France and Spain, and until recently, was jointly ruled by the President of France (as proxy for the king) and a Spanish bishop. But being a nation of Two Princes is a little too interesting for the people of Andorra and in 1993 they got their own parliament.

I was last here in 1986 (in the days of Two Princes, pop-pickers). I was seven and on a camping holiday adventure around Europe with my mum, dad and brother Alex. I remember it well. It was bloody hot and we listened to Harry Chapin on the tape player. Today, however, was a cool spring day in the mountains and my ipod was out of juice. There are a TON of new resorts that seem to be cloning themselves like an out-of-control virus. All concrete insides, dressed with slate on the outside. Hmm. Let’s not go there today, Graham – just suffice to say that Andorra is THE skiing destination in the Pyrenees, if you’re into slapping two bits of wood to your feet and hurtling down a hill before falling over and breaking something. But at least with skiing you actually move more than a few feet forwards before falling over, which makes it marginally more sensible than the überfarce that is skateboarding.

Actually, it’s good that so many people are into skiing, as Andorra doesn’t seem to do an awful lot else.

It’s quite pretty, though.

A coffee and a croissant (or two) and then I was on the 10am bus to Barcelona… at last. España!!

I was met at the bus station by my mum and dad – we had arranged to meet up to swap out some of my things that I would need for Africa, including my second passport, loaded with visas. Well, some of them – I need about thirty.

I was also met by Matt Bourke, who’s going to be producing the Odyssey television show. I swear, Matt is the Aussie Stuart Lanceley.

We went for lunch on the top for of the Corte Ingles Department store (great view) and then after my dad faffed about for half an hour trying to find the apartment he was staying in (this is why I travel alone, peeps!), I had to run to get to my medical check-up in time.

The check up was to keep the production company’s insurance company happy and in case things go tits-up in Africa. The doctor checked how tall I was and whether I had anything obviously wrong with me, which I don’t (expect for my hyperactivity “disorder” which actually gives me the super-stamina that I need to complete The Odyssey – fast! That one! The ginge! Catch him WITH A NET! He’s got ADHD! Give him DRUGS TO KEEP HIM SANE!!). He charged me €150 [Sonic Ring Ching!] but the production company is going to pay me that back – AREN’T YOU.

After the doctor, a quick trip to the dentist to get my tooth filled in (an Aussie guy called Adam I met on the train to Sicily last week was a dentist, had a look at the chunk of tooth that had fallen out of my gob a few months ago and suggested I get it seen to, quick smart). Then it was back to my parent’s apartment for a cup of tea and to go through packing and visa stuff for the rest of Africa.

By now, my dad was already a little bit sozzled, but I had no idea of what was to come. We met up with Matt and headed over to La Fonda, the restaurant you have to go to when in Barcelona. We had to queue up to get in, which got dad all agitated – not a good start. He then started going on and on about the fact I was wearing a HAT (I know, the least of my sins) before going completely cock-a-loop, not allowing us to order our own food, instead writing our orders down in ENGLISH for the Chinese Waitress (in Spain) to decipher.

Back at the apartment all I wanted to do is pack my things, in good time (the last time in England was a total rush-job) and get a good night’s sleep.

Possible?

Nah. Dad was going bananas over the visa for Angola. He wanted to know what date to put down. I had told him over and over and over again to put down 15th June, but he wasn’t having it. He then started going off on one that I had worn a hat to dinner (I had actually stuffed it in my bag, but hey-ho).

After the debacle that was Tunisia, this was the last thing I needed, and I didn’t want Matt seeing my dad in this state, so I waited downstairs for him, to drop off his tapes (which we had arranged at dinner). By now it was past midnight, I was SHATTERED and all I wanted to do was sleep. I went back up to the apartment with the tapes, and he was still up and still raving, so I dropped the tapes off and set out into the night.

Only, I didn’t get very far as I had left my wallet in the apartment and I didn’t have a key to get back in. I tried ringing my mum, but there was no answer. The result?

I sat on the step outside for two hours.

Which is why I’m including this whole embarrassing episode in my blog. Maybe my dad will read it (maybe he won’t) and maybe he’ll understand exactly how much I could have done without this, the day before I head into some of the most dangerous parts of Africa on my tod.

At 2am, I finally got back in, but I was too tired to pack. I woke at 6am, was meeting Matt at the train station 7am, had to hurriedly stuff what I could into my bag (I forgot so many things it’s not funny) and hit the road.

Sorry, Mum.



Day 136: Travel Rules

Day 136: Travel Rules

May 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Portugal, Spain, The Odyssey Expedition

16.05.09:

After last night’s antics, I’m surprised I stayed awake but then I have got a personality disorder. Matt and I jumped on the mega-mega fast train to Madrid (300kph! – whoosh!) and I drove him up the wall with my crap jokes and constant spouting of my random brain garbage. Madrid train station is BEAUTIFUL – old school golden age of steam with a tropical garden in the middle of it. I could have stayed all day, but we only had time for a coffee before hopping on another mega-mega fast train to Seville. We were there before you could say Jaffa Cakes.

Now, Matt – top bloke, wouldn’t have a word said against him. However, talk about throwing someone in at the deep end – he hasn’t travelled much (just Oz and New York) and in a few days we’re going to be ankle-deep in West Africa – the poorest and (arguably) the nuttiest region of planet Earth. With even less French and Spanish than me, I just hope he doesn’t get himself into a poker game with the locals and end up in a bath of ice missing a kidney or two…

Welcome to the world of squat toilets and no bog roll, Matt, hope you’ve been working them calf muscles! Ah, don’t worry – if he sticks to the most important two rules of travel – WALK AROUND LIKE YOU OWN THE PLACE – he’ll be fine.

Graham’s Rules of Travel…

  1. Walk around like you own the place;
  2. Walk around like you own the place;
  3. Travel LIGHT – Don’t take anything you can’t afford to lose;
  4. No matter what, keep a cheery disposition – don’t let them see you bleed;
  5. Don’t drink the water or eat the salads;
  6. No drugs. Ever. Have you seen Bangkok Hilton?;
  7. Never take a towel with you travelling, unless you plan to camp. It’s a heavy wet smelly mess you can do without;
  8. Trust no-one, pretend to trust everyone;
  9. You’ve been EVERYWHERE before and NO, it’s not your first day here;
  10. Whatever price they ask, half it;
  11. Always have a Plan B, and C and D;
  12. McDonalds will always have clean western toilets;
  13. NEVER use travellers cheques;
  14. Have at least two cash cards, preferably five;
  15. Always keep $100 stuffed in your shoe;
  16. Deodorant = shower in a can;
  17. Never let your bag out of your sight(!);
  18. What happens on the road, stays on the road;
  19. Biscuits;
  20. If someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES.

Anyway, Seville – orange trees, boulevards… mmm… Andalucía – one of my favourite places on Earth. After the North of England and Victoria, I’ve spent more time knocking around here than anywhere else… with dirt cheap Easyjet/Ryanair flights and that Moorish/Tapas vibe, how could I not?

Matt and I headed over to the bus station and hopped on a bus to Huelva (arriving at siesta-o’clock, the place was like a ghost-town) and then grabbed a local bus to the border town of Ayamonte – the very southern point of the border between Spain and Portugal. There we jumped a taxi for my final border-hop of Europe. Our driver took us over the bridge that separated the two old rivals – a bridge that spanned hundreds of years of conquest and bickering, a bridge that joined the chaps behind the Armada to our oldest ally – if memory serves, there’s a whopping 900 years of no armed conflicts between the Portuguese and the British. Stick that in your pipe, peaceniks!

However, with 700 irregular verbs (according to the delectable Ms. Golightly), I don’t think I’ll be adding Portuguese to my embarrassing small repertoire of languages that you can select from my ginger bonce anytime soon.

After stomping around on Portuguese soil for a few minutes, we returned to Spain. Our driver then took us up to the Panoramic view of the river, which was cool, before dropping us off near the bus station to re-supply and grab the bus back to Seville.

Arriving after 10pm, we checked in to a hostel, dumped our bags and headed out for some boozy booze. Matt’s on the wagon, so he had the honour of staying stone cold Steve Austin and watching me get drunk (much in the style of University-Era Michelle ‘He’s only embarrassing himself’ Robinson).

Actually, the cerveza was a bit pricey, so I didn’t get blotto, but we did manage quite a nice impromptu pub-crawl (necessitated by the fact that every place we got to was closing when we arrived). Good vibe, though.

We (somehow) found our way back to the hostel around 2am, and I would have happily spent the rest of the night chatting to the girl in reception who looked like a Spanish Rachel Leigh Cooke [what? stop looking at me like that!] but the knowledge that I had to be up in four hours tempered my raging hormones – I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.



Day 137: The Road To Casablanca

Day 137: The Road To Casablanca

May 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Morocco, Spain, The Odyssey Expedition

17.05.09:

The plan was to get the 7.30am bus to the coast. However, however, however… we got a taxi to the southern bus station (a good bet as we where heading due south!) but the bus to Algeciras wouldn’t let us on, and then drove off while we were trying to buy tickets from the CLOSED ticket window!

The rotter!

It wasn’t until the information post opened at 8am that we discovered we were (once again) digging in the wrong place! – The bus left from the Eastern bus station (silly Graham), so wasn’t picking up passengers from our bus station (well, he could have given us a lift, the big meanie).

The next bus for the coast wasn’t until 10am – I really could have done with those extra three hours of beddy-bo-bo’s. Oh well. Matt and I sat off drinking coffee until we were whisked away down to the Mediterranean. There are more boats to Morocco from Spain than there are pregnant BBC weathergirls, so within the hour we had arrived in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in Morocco (opposite Gibraltar, pop-pickers!), which makes up the African side of the Pillars of Hercules.

We took a taxi to the border, and from there we headed to Tetouan for the bus to Casablanca.

It would be here that Matt and I would say our farewells – he had to organise a visa for Senegal (no such necessity for Mr. EU citizen here) and would fly to Dakar and meet me there – I would overland it through the Western Sahara and Mauritania. I met an incredibly chatty Moroccan girl called Fatima on the bus, and (unusually for these parts) she was happy to be interviewed and give her opinions on modern Morocco and the treatment of women here.

Fatima and I shoved Matt in a Taxi and sent him off into the night (this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship) and we continued on our bus – Fatima to Seltat and me all the way to Agadir – I would arrive at 7am tomorrow morning.



Days 974-984: Conspiracy Nut Cornflakes

Days 974-984: Conspiracy Nut Cornflakes

September 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Afghanistan, England, India, Iran, Iraq, Rants, Spain, The Odyssey Expedition, USA

01.09.11-11.09.11:

I was a kid in the eighties. I grew up with the distinct possibility that at any moment the Russians might take a dislike to the latest Madness single or something and destroy the entire world. Films like Red Dawn and When The Wind Blows didn’t help. My brother Alex and I would waste entire summers digging fallout shelters (which invariably ended up as two foot deep puddles of mud) and learning to fend for ourselves in the field across the road, seeing if we could live off ‘rations’ of sugar and ketchup sachets stolen from Little Chef, you know: just in case.

And then one night, suddenly and unexpectedly, the Berlin Wall collapsed. All that fear, all the paranoia and all the neuroses that the Cold War had instilled in my and my parents’ generation had gone. The sword of Damocles that had dangled menacingly above my head throughout my formative years vanished. Whoosh, kaput, hooray.

Soon afterwards I turned 11 years old. The nineties had begun. From then until the age of 22 I lived life free of that horrible feeling, the feeling that everything and everyone I know and love might be taken away at any time with the push of a button. The feeling that somebody who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, might well murder me and my family for no other reason than madness, utter madness.

All I needed to be is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Life rarely gives many certainties, except death and taxes, but as the IRA dwindled away, the possibility of me being senselessly blown to Smithereens by a faceless menace seemed to diminish as the years went on.

From November 1989 to September 2001, things got better and better. The more I learned about history and politics the more I became convinced that, in the words of Bill and Ted, the best place to be is here… and the best time to be is now.

Compared with the adolescence of anyone born before 1900 (why are all 14 of my siblings dead?), anyone during WWI (why are all my friends dead?), anyone during WWII (why are all my people dead?), any one of the Baby Boomers (why is every living thing on the planet dead?) or any of the Generation X-ers (imagine being a teenager in the eighties – ack! The humanity!).

Compared to that lot, my (MTV) generation had it made: great music, great films, great video games, satellite TV, the INTERNET… we were still some distance from World Peace Day, but for me, getting drunk and annoying girls in Liverpool, everything was peachy.

And then 19 psychos, armed only with airline tickets and box cutters, changed the world.

Like millions of others, I had stood on the roof of the World Trade Centre before it was destroyed. But unlike millions of others, I was in Ahmedabad just days before the 2002 massacre. When I visited Bali later that same year, I spent every night in the Sari Club. A few months later it was gone. As was the Casa de España in Casablanca, a place that me and my friend Dan frequented on our trip to that city.

I had been to the wrong places, just not at the wrong time.

I travel a lot, it’s statistically highly likely that stuff like this is going to happen, but what really bothered me was that same creeping dread I experienced as a child – the faceless horror that could take everything from me – was returning… and then the bombings in Madrid and London brought it home that, like in the 1980s, nowhere was safe.

Anybody who has been following my progress over the last couple of years can imagine my response to that feeling. I, like the good people of NY who swept the streets after 9/11 and the noble Londoners who continued taking the tube to work after 7/7, refuse to be terrorised. I refuse to retreat back into childhood, start jumping at shadows or freaking out every time I see an Arab with a backpack. In a battle of wills between me and Osama Bin Laden, you know what? I won. He and his group of murderous idiots and psychopathic zealots didn’t stop me travelling the world. They didn’t even stop me visiting Afghanistan.

But there are people out there who are suitably terrorised and freaked out. For the last ten years they’ve been fighting a losing battle against the forces of reason, attempting to push a square peg into a round hole, getting the hammer out because the pieces of the jigsaw don’t fit. Like the mother watching her son in the parade and wondering why everybody else is marching out of step with her Johnny, they suffer from tunnel vision, only see what they want to see and ignore all the evidence to the contrary.

They are the 9/11 conspiracy theorists.

I find them an annoyance, but not a particularly dangerous one: unlike climate change conspiracy theorists who are doing real-world damage to my only planet. So I’ve not really talked about the 9/11 ‘truthers’ or their crazy notions on my blog. I didn’t really want to give their lunatic views a public airing, not least because they’ve got the entire internet to write up their crackpot theories (mysterious how nobody stops them eh?) and I can’t be bothered vetting all the abusive comments I would (not doubt) receive.

But sometimes people bring the fight to you, and you know I’m more than happy to defend my corner.

So, grab your popcorn and adjust your reading specs, here we go…

On the 25th August 2011, “Joe” wrote:

For the most part you’re spot on, but how do you deny the 9/11 truthers? Buildings don’t pancake unless they are demolished with explosives, building 7 didn’t get hit but it dropped perfectly into it’s own footprint. There was NO plane in the pentagon or on the ground in the Virginia field. You do understand the first law of thermodynamics right? Planes don’t vanish on impact. America went to Afghanistan within a month, no trial, no discussion, nothing. Since when does anyone KNOW who committed a crime with no ACTUAL evidence. The invasion of Iraq was completely based on lies, and no one denies it. We have been fighting a boogie man for over 10 years now, for what?? Do you really believe this al-queda (which is a known CIA asset, as well as bin Laden) outfit is so powerful that EVERY rich and powerful nation on earth can’t stop them in a DECADE! It only took four years to stop Hitler! We find bin laden, the very REASON we have blown trillions of dollars and ended hundreds of thousands of lives, and we KILL him without questioning him!!? Then show NO proof and within a day throw him into the FUCKING ocean!! What kind of protocol is that!? I think you are a very smart and experienced person, so how could you possibly believe any of this? You admit that the powers that be lie all the time in your blogs, so why would you believe any of this crap when it’s so blatantly obvious?

To which I replied:

I “deny” the 9/11 truthers for the same reason I “deny” mother goose: because it’s absolute hogwash!!

The world is run by inept, ignorant and barely-qualified politicians… NOT moustache-twiddling James Bond-villain-esque criminal masterminds. Then again, I don’t know which proposition is scarier…!

Which stirred up the hornet’s nest.  Joe wrote:

So you think a ballsy gang of ubermuslims are the real supervillians? outwitting the world, always a step ahead of the intelligence agencies, able to run a commercial airliner into the pentagon (the most heavily fortified building on earth with the capability of shooting rockets out of the sky) and make it vanish upon impact. These James Bomb esque baddies are so well organized they don’t even need banks or money (the CIA is capable of freezing anyone on earth’s assets, something they have done to many a dictator and despot) , they must communicate telepathically as well (considering the coalition of the willing basically has a monopoly on transmitted communication and has been intercepting com since pre WW2) and i guess they have a clone army of super soldiers considering they have withstood the 200,000+ man strong force of America Inc and her lapdogs and mercenaries (the most expensive, powerful, and technologically advanced fighting force in the history of mankind) for over 10 years.

that makes more sense to you than some VERY powerful men who control the oil industry, the banks, the military industrial complex, and world business wanting to grab more power?

Oh bugger it, methinks, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  He might yet be sane…  So I replied:

  1. Since I don’t live in the Marvel comic universe, I don’t believe in supervillians. The very concept is as laughable as Dr. Evil’s sharks “with frikkin laser beams on their heads!”.
  2. ‘Always’ one step ahead? Once was enough my friend, once. 9/11 was a pretty low-fi operation.
  3. The Pentagon can shoot rockets out of the sky? Really?! I thought they retired Reagan’s Star Wars project. But still, rockets and planes are two rather different things (rockets, being packed with explosives, tend to blow up when you hit them, planes don’t).
  4. Magic! The plane vanished did it? Where you there? Did you sift through the debris? Are you an air-crash investigator? And where, pray tell, are the people who were on board? Would you mind explaining to me (or even better – their families) where they are? I’m sure they’d like to know…!
  5. The CIA can freeze anybody’s assets can they? That’s news to the bankers in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Nigeria. I better tell them.
  6. If the Americans have the monopoly on communication, why on Earth did they invent the internet? Shot themselves in the foot there, methinks. You better watch what you say on this site, ‘they’ might come and get ya! Like ‘they’ came for the makers of ‘Loose Change’. Oh, hang on… no, no ‘they’ didn’t. Silly ‘they’. Missed a trick there, like not being able to assassinate Castro… when he was in a coma(!).
  7. Not sure what you’re getting at with the ‘clone army’ malarkey, but if you’re talking about Al Qaeda, well, they’re not exactly Darth Sidious are they? Last time they tried to blow up something in the UK, they ended up getting their car bomb towed and setting themselves on fire. As for the Afghans, they’ve been kicking the arse of empires since 1841. They even chopped off Sean Connery’s head, which is more than Blofeld ever did.
  8. Yes, there ARE some very powerful men out there. The remarkable thing is that they are ALL utterly rubbish at keeping all the horrible things they do a secret… but they are incredibly good at getting away with it. Why? Well, I don’t know, Joe… maybe it’s because people are too busy wasting their time pursuing mad conspiracies that make no sense. We have NO EVIDENCE that 9/11 was an inside job other than hearsay and conjecture… don’t forget: we’d only need ONE piece of concrete evidence to bring a court case against Bush and his cronies, one whistleblower, one disgruntled employee, one payslip, one receipt, one unambiguous photo, one little piece of CCTV footage…

One little thing to bring down the entire Republican party, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin… and oh what a joy that would be. Sadly, that one little thing doesn’t exist. There’s nothing, even after 10 years. Not a dicky bird. This is the same government that couldn’t even get away with stealing a few bits of paper from the Watergate hotel. And while people’s attention is focussed on this garbage, the REAL conspirators get away with in BROAD DAYLIGHT!!

Honestly: you can look their activities up on Wikipedia and everything!

Some homework for ya:

  1. Union Carbide. Bhopal. Investigate.
  2. Find out where the $60,000,000,000+ worth of Iraqi ‘rebuilding’ contracts went. The Iraqis would love to know.
  3. Coca-Cola. Colombia. Murders. Nasty. Get them to pay compensation to the widows.
  4. Find out why on Earth some ex-Nazi rocket engineers were paid by tobacco companies in the 70s to manufacture doubt in the popular imagination that smoking leads to lung cancer (Hint: they did such a good job, their arguments are STILL being used to cast doubt on the otherwise irrefutable science of climate change).
  5. BHP Biliton, War in Zaire (DR Congo), copper prices. TELL PEOPLE!
  6. Find out Who Killed The Electric Car. Hate them forever.
  7. What links Agent Orange with the American farming industry?
  8.  So when did Donald Rumsfeld exactly leave the board of Halliburton, it being a blatant conflict of interest, of course…
  9. Which American politician (and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, bizarrely enough) flew out of Jakarta mere days before Indonesia invaded East Timor?
  10. Talking of East Timor, what was it that Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said when people were being massacred on the streets and Jose Ramos-Horta pleaded for help?
  11. Find out how ONE MAN reduced the value of the British pound by 25% IN A DAY.
  12. Give me a rough estimate of how much money the Nigerian government has stolen (by its own admission) from its own people since 1967.
  13. Find out who gave Ethiopia the bombers to destroy Massawa in Eritrea… and why.
  14. Tell me some of the high-jinks the Portuguese got up to before leaving Mozambique.
  15. Exactly how much of Italy’s media is owned by its Prime Minister?

That’ll do for a start. I have more.

I thought that would be the end of it, but then I haven’t been frequenting too many conspiracy forums recently… I kinda forgot that you can’t reason people out of a position they haven’t reasoned themselves into.  Joe wrote:

  1. You must believe in supervillians if you think a rag tag gang of afghans with a budget of about 1/100000th that of the US and her allies is capable of holding the whole damn world hostage
  2. Not once, 5 times that day (supposedly) and then for 10 straight years. Do you really believe a few arabs with box cutters could really subdue 5 airplanes? the 100s of people on those planes sat aside and just let that happen? Come on, you can’t even get into a cockpit on a commercial plane, never would’ve happened
  3. I didn’t say from space, but of course america and especially the pentagon itself has anti missile defense systems. A plane is much larger and moves much slower than a missile, therefore they shouldn’t have had any problem whatsoever taking that plane down well before it maneuvered (while flying over Washington, DC) to street level and crashed into a relatively short building. a basically impossible feat
  4. Do yourself a favor by looking at a photo of the perfectly round hole in the pentagon and the “wreckage” that was in the field. Then type “plane crash” into google photo to see what an actual plane crash looks like. I don’t have to be an aircrash investigator, the only qualification you need is sight to know that there ISN’T a plane in the pentagon or on that field. As for the families, they were probably killed, just like the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis.
  5. Yes, the CIA def can freeze assets. They recently froze syrian president Assads’, Gaddafi’s, gbagbo’s (ivory coast), mubaraks, Saddams, the list goes on. They do it whenever they want to. There is no telling what their real agenda is or what kinds of backroom deals they make with various world leaders but there is no doubt that if they deem it necessary they can and will
  6. I know you’ve been to Egypt, Turkey, and China, three places (among many) that have restricted the internet (in Egypt’s case completely shut it down, which fueled the revolution). The internet isn’t exactly the free speech untouchable force it’s played up as. Governments shut down websites all the time.
  7. I mentioned the clone army because only an infinite clone army would have the manpower to force a 10+ year war with the entire G20. We aren’t fighting Afghanistan by the way, they are actually our “ally” in this endeavor, our “enemy” is some faceless ghost army of terrorists that can be everywhere at once and have endless supply lines the world over
  8. There is an absolute MOUNTAIN of evidence. 1000s of structural engineers, physicists, first responders, eyewitnesses, military insiders, computer simulations, the entire history of steel buildings (never has a steel building fallen because of fire, NEVER), common sense (why did building 7 fall? why no planes? why would the building fall perfectly into it’s footprint? (something ONLY possible with a controlled demolition) who had the most to gain? (Dick Cheney (as you must know) was the CEO of Halliburton the day before he swore into office. Of course i don’t have to tell you Halliburtons role in all this is. You’ve seen loose change, you know about the pipelines across afganistans and how the taliban didn’t want to play ball, i know you understand the abhorrent greed of mankind and the insatiable drive for more, more power, more money, more oil, more control. Why wouldn’t these top tier assholes want to consolidate all the power they could?

I think you have a bit of a fairy tale idea of real world justice. The 9/11 commission posted it’s results within a month, accepted no independent investigations, and closed the folder forever. Why wasn’t anyone at BP charged with a crime after the gulf of mexico spill that killed 11 people and still ravages the south coast of America? Why wasn’t bin laden brought to the Hague or DC and put on trial for his crimes? why wasn’t a single banker indicted after the 2008 economic collapse after it became common knowledge that they were engaged in a plethora of illegal business practices (in fact they were rewarded to the tune of trillions of dollars of no interest loans)? Why? because the system is rigged to favor the elite, by the elite. If you don’t believe the elite are looking out for themselves then you must be delusional. Would you help you’re family out if they were in trouble? Do you take care of your friends if you can?

Your list of atrocities only proves my point, those in power will ALWAYS take advantage of that power and do whatever they can to keep it. Morals be damned. Just look at the entire history of mankind, its a running theme. To say that the corporate/banking elite are all just a bunch of idiots, bumbling around with theie combined trillions of dollars, tripping over their own feet, is patently ridiculous. Politicians? Yea, for the most part they probably are pretty dumb, but those guys aren’t making real decisions, they are lackeys, henchmen, PR spokemen, actors (Ronald Reagan was literally an actor before he became president).

Every year the top echelon of elites meets as a group called the Bilderbergs, (as you may know), behind closed doors, with no media coverage. What do you think they are talking about? How they can make the world a better place? If so, they are doing a pretty shit job at it

Well, I really couldn’t be bothered refuting each point separately, so I thought I’d just target the most nonsensical part of the whole silly conspiracy theory: the idea that not a single person who was involved in this cover-up would say anything to anyone, even after ten years.  So I wrote:

STOP STOP STOP. PLEASE. THINK about it. Just THINK.

If 9/11 was an inside job… how many people would have to be in one it? Give me a rough figure. 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? These people would have to ALL be utterly amoral psychopaths whose motive was what… power? The iron law of oligarchy states that powerful people don’t share power… so then money? Okay… let’s say money. There’s a lot of them, but lets say they just escaped en masse from Arkham Asylum.

Now if ONE of these people talks the whole thing is shot to shit, and everybody goes to jail… for the rest of their lives. We’re not talking corrupt bankers here, or Bono cooking the books so he pays no income tax, we’re talking the wilful murder of 3,000 AMERICAN CIVILIANS. This is death penalty level crime we’re talking about.

Now work out how much it would cost to keep every single one of those people quiet for 10 years. How much would it cost to keep YOU quiet about the biggest conspiracy the world has ever seen? $1,000,000? Damn you’re cheap! There are businessmen and politicians involved in this who earn that amount A DAY. So how much do you pay them? $1,000,000,000? Sound fair? Let’s say they demand a cool billion every year. Let’s say there are 1,000 of them in on it (a modest figure, I’m sure you’ll agree, given the scale of this thing)… that’s a TRILLION DOLLARS A YEAR for TEN YEARS just to keep people quiet… because any one of them could AT ANY TIME grow a conscience (or need more money) and blow the whistle.

TEN TRILLION DOLLARS… for WHAT? So they could invade IRAQ? Even though Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11? Even though the combined worth of Iraq comes to… wait for it… $117 BILLION a year… hang on, what about Afghanistan?? Well (being one of the poorest countries in the world AND HAVING NO OIL) it’s worth a good $14 BILLION a year, so shall we call it $130 BILLION all up…

…and we’re spending $1,000 BILLION a year on BRIBES??

That’s the conservative figure… how much does it cost to keep Wikileaks quiet? I’d love to know.

IT. MAKES. NO. SENSE. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can’t grasp how ridiculous the ‘truthers’ proposition sounds to somebody who has a degree in Poltics and Modern History and has travelled as extensively as I have. You might as well be arguing that the world is flat or that an eclipse is a dragon eating the sun. IF there is ANY truth in what the ‘truthers’ claim, why doesn’t one of the more wealthy ‘truthers’ make a civil case against the US government? Anyone with a bit of wonga can do it. But they don’t, do they? Why is that Joe?

Maybe because it would require REAL EVIDENCE and a ACTUAL MOTIVE for the US govt to be behind it… and, as yet, NOBODY has provided me (or any of the millions like yourself who obsess over 9/11) with either.

It may make you sleep easier at night to believe that you live in a universe in which everything happens for a logical reason, but that doesn’t make it the case. The 9/11 hijackers had the motive, the opportunity and the ruthlessness to go through with one of the most spectacular terrorist attacks the world has ever seen – and hopefully will ever see. All they needed was a few flying lessons, nineteen plane tickets and some box cutters. Scary eh? Tough. That’s the way the world is: shit happens… it doesn’t necessarily follow that the shit was put there by the Men In Black to enslave humanity and feed us to the space lizards.

As I tried to get across in my last reply, there are REAL messed-up things that politicians, governments, corporations and businessmen have done and are still getting away with. As I travel, I meet people who want to talk about how every major event or every famous person’s death is a conspiracy (JFK! Diana! Elvis! Evolution! The Moon Landings! Climate Change!), but very few who want to talk about what the Sudanese government has done in Darfur in the full view of an indifferent and apathetic world.

Hell, maybe you and the 9/11 ‘truthers’ are part of a conspiracy to distract people from talking about what’s REALLY going on…

Go on, it’s the space lizards, isn’t it?

I KNEW IT!!!!!!!

To which Joe wrote:

Well Graham, I guess there’s just no convincing you. Usually i dont bother trying to convince anyone because i figure if you believe the “official” story then your just a believe what your told kind of person. I think your stuck on the disbelief that people would be evil or careless enough to do it, but just look at your list of “real” atrocities. Every single day people in power take horrible advantage of people, genocides are very real, slavery is very real, the oil industry really has decimated the Nigerian Delta, the Fed Reserve really did give (print out of thin air) over 1 trillion dollars to the same banks that wrecked the worlds economy. These aren’t even denied and no one does anything. How much convincing do you think it takes to get a soldier to fire bullets into a crowd of protesters in Syria? Mindless people do what they are told, against their own beliefs and morals, every single day, every day of history even. They don’t have to be “paid off” they just want to maintain their status quo, get their paycheck, not ruffle any feathers. As an independent person (remember that i also took a 2+ year epic journey around the globe) you dont get it, but most people want to be part of a “gang”, be told what to do and do whatever it takes to fit into it. Also i think your stuck on “it’s the government”. The real powers that be are the international bankers and corporations, that are above any one countries jurisdiction. If you think those assholes have ANY morals whatsoever then your just lying to yourself.

If you think killing 2000 Americans is some major line that had to be crossed, consider the fact that over 6000 have died in the wars so far. 3 times more have died than the original attack. How about the 100,000s of Iraqis and Afghanis (innocent bystanders many of them) that have died. Nothing is “better” in either country in 10 years. What the hell are we doing there? Obviously nothing good. (Even you admit 60 billion dollars of the “rebuilding” money vanished) It’s all a farce. But i will just stop, because if you can’t see the nose on your face then who am i to show you a mirror. No offence.

So i’ll just leave it be at this point. I highly recommend you do some more research, all of the answers are out there, very easy to find if you want to

There’s a point at which your eyes are rolling so far to the back of your head there’s a good chance you might detach your retinas.  I was rapidly approaching this point.  With the ad hominem attack of  me being a “believe what you’re told” type of person ringing in my ears, it was no more Mr. Nice Badger…

At the end of the day, I’m asking you to provide me with solid evidence and you’re asking me – in true conspiracy theorist-style – to take your word for it based on no evidence whatsoever other than opinion, conjecture and idle speculation.

And then you sign off with ‘the answers are out there’ like its an episode of the X-Files, yeah…. so’s Russell’s Celestial Teapot, but I’m not going to waste my life looking for it.

Sorry my friend, but as Christopher Hitchens quite rightly points out, claims that can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

And that’s where this conversation (which, quite frankly, I tire of having) ends.

But Joe didn’t want to leave it at that.  Funnily enough, he found it hard (impossible, maybe?) to explain the exact mechanisms for keeping all those people quiet, and herded me instead to watch a bunch of 37 second YouTube clips: essentially adverts for the 9/11 truther’s “product”.  Which seems to be… bullshit.  Joe wrote:

I assumed that you were capable of doing your own research (and would trust what you found more wholly) but if you want some actual evidence then I can provide you that.

The top 40 reasons http://911truth.org/article.php?story=20041221155307646

Here is a recently released video with the backing of 1500 architects and engineers about WTC7 that proves it was a controlled demolition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z6LMGXDZnI

more thermite evidence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezIU6ZxYU3A

the pentagon? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcWT2lQszEE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmP2Vy8K0i0&feature=related

The planes had no windows
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRC4lCQuBmcfeature=related
and apparently weren’t in the air
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2QAh0rBrew&NR=1

Senior Officials, Government employees, People who were on the 9/11 commission don’t believe it

Just go through all of the info on
http://www.911proof.com/
http://www.911truth.org/

It seems like you made up your mind a long time ago about this issue, maybe there are some new bits of information that you are unaware of.

The reality is the history of mankind reads as one endless power struggle between the elites. Ghengis Kahn rode across the Central Asian steppe slashing and burning his way to Europe? Alexander the Great convinced his country to march into Turkey and lay siege to its cities on the way to Egypt and India. The Caesars murdered everyday during their reign, as did the Goths, the Ottamans, the Moors, the Franks, the Germans (did Hitler have to pay off all of the Germans to be convinced the extermination of the Jews was ok?) the Brits, all of Western Europe raped, murdered, and stole their way through the Americas, and today corporations and governments economically pillage the world (I’m sure you’ve heard about all of the help the IMF and the World Bank has brought to the developing world). Why? Because its the very nature of mankind, it’s how it’s always been, and most likely always will be.

That’s got to be the non sequitur to end all non sequiturs.  I couldn’t resist. I wrote:

Jesus Christ: The planes had no windows! They weren’t even in the air!

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, gimme a break!

As you keep re-iterating time and time and time and time again, your argument boils down to this:

a) governments did bad things in the past (go on about ancient Rome)

b) governments continue to do bad things today (go on about American foreign policy)

Therefore… (drum roll please)

c) the US govt masterminded the 9/11 attacks

What? Eh? Hang on… erm? WHAT? You even sign off with “its the very nature of mankind” as if that’s going to convince me that it’s why no journalist IN THE WORLD fancies winning themselves the Pulitzer Prize by exposing the BIGGEST CONSPIRACY THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN!! Wooowowowowoooo!

You might as well say:

a) pirates did bad things in the past (go on about Blackbeard etc)

b) pirates continue to do bad things today (go on about Somalia)

Therefore… (drum roll please)

c) pirates cause global warming!!!

You’re so immersed in this fantastical world that makes Battlefield Earth seem logical and you just can’t see how utterly bonkers it all sounds.

And you send me links (WordPress don’t likey too many linkys – maybe they’re in on it toooooooo!) to websites stacked full of (again) biased opinion, conjecture (it COULDN’T have happened that way… I don’t think!), hearsay (this guy, right, he’s an engineer and even HE SAID IT – explain THAT, Poindexter!) and a really annoying habit of ignoring any evidence that doesn’t fit the conspiracy theorist narrative.

The ‘forty reasons’ link is hilarious! Thanks for that! Here’s an example of how utterly invalid the points are…

6) Did cell phones work at 30,000 feet in 2001? Maybe not, but the PHONES IN THE BACKS OF THE CHAIRS DID.

38) “Al-CIA-da?”
The longstanding relationship between US intelligence networks and radical Islamists, including the network surrounding Osama Bin Ladin.
 Oh look, they’re talking about the CIA assistance to the Afghan Muhajideen in the 1980s – BEFORE BIN LADEN EVEN ARRIVED IN THE COUNTRY. Hey, Stalin was our ALLY in WWII, and then the Cold War happens… ha ha, look at the stoopid sheeple believing in the Cold War!! Tsk! It was all smoke and mirrors!

In short, IT IS NOT EVIDENCE – none of it is. It would NEVER STAND UP IN A COURT OF LAW, it would NEVER BE PUBLISHED IN A PEER-REVIEWED SCIENTIFIC PAPER.

The best you can hope for is the National Inquirer and a few paranoid, tinfoil-hat wearing fruit-loops on the internet who BY GOD I never want on my jury… unless I’m guilty of cause ;-)

Again you’ve failed to adequately explain a motive (they’re just EVIL! They don’t need a motive!), where all the money went, why there’s no paper trail, why they didn’t just “make” AT LEAST ONE of the hijackers Iraqi or how on earth the US govt keeps this under wraps when you and I both know that two people can only keep a secret when one of them is dead.

Not ONE of the intercepted 9/11 pager messages published on Wikileaks said “Phase One Complete. Plan for invasion of landlocked resource-poor Central Asian basketcase on schedule!” Maybe the governmentals use that telepathy what they learnt from them Aliens in Roswell, eh?!!

:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

The arguments you use are exactly the same as climate change deniers and the young Earth creationists. I can sit a climate change denier down with a Nobel-prize winning scientist who can show them all the evidence in the world that climate change is real, man made, happening right now and something we should be damn worried about – and it STILL won’t change their mind. I can take a young-Earth creationist to the Natural History Museum and show them fossils from millions of years ago and they’ll STILL think the world is 6,000 years old.

Like them, NOTHING I or ANYBODY can say or do will persuade you otherwise.

However, you could persuade me: all I’m asking for… is evidence.

Why can’t I persuade these people? Because that’s what you and they WANT to believe. Climate Change is scary. Evolution is demeaning. Better to just stick your fingers in your ears and go lalalalalalalalalalalalalala.

9/11 truthers like yourself are exactly the same mindset. You WANT to live in a dystopian world in which rich Western governments oversee the wholesale slaughter of 3,000 civilians LIVE ON TELEVISION and get away with it. So long as you get to feel like you’ve got the magic powers, the vision, the intellectual vigour to know what’s really going on, and you can badger people online and in the pub with the old “everything you know is wrong!” fallacy. And WHY do you find the “9/11 was the govt” theory so appealing? Well, according to psychologists, because it’s what you would do.

Yep, conspiracy theorists seem to score higher on Machiavellian mindset tests than people like me. But it’s not like I don’t have any Machiavellian thoughts (we all do), it’s that I’m humble enough to know there would be absolutely NO WAY I could get away with it. The sad thing is, conspiracy theorists are the ones who think they could get away with it, an arrogant inflation of their own (and by extention, others) abilities to pull off the most horrifying acts of violence and walk away scot-free.

From your own comments on this site, you appear not to think much of humanity: you talk about human nature being essentially evil and you say (perhaps sarcastically, who knows?) that 2000 Americans “is a drop in the bucket”. (I’ll assume you mean ocean… it could be a small bucket).

These are the opinions of a psychopath. And while you subconsciously project your murderous desires onto a terrorist attack like 9/11: the REALLY scary thing is you consciously believe that you could get away with it, therefore it follows (in your mind) that the government could.

That’s worrisome. You should really get some help with that.

—————————————————————————————————————-

You started this discussion by asking me how I can ‘deny’ the 9/11 conspiracy nuts. Maybe I should explain.

I don’t have a religious/spiritual/faith bone in my body. I really don’t. That’s not to say I am a nihilist, I most definitely am not. I just find it incredibly difficult (more like impossible) to believe anything I’m told unless it passes a quick and easy mental test:

1) Does it sound plausible?

2) Is there any solid, unbiased evidence to support the proposition?

Needless to say, for me, the 9/11 truthers fall at the first hurdle. It sounds as plausible as Elvis working in a KFC on the moon. As for the second extremely reasonable question, the evidence is painfully flimsy, all based on bad science and conjecture… and almost comically biased.

But I think everybody runs through that same mental test, and you know what? For some people it must sound plausible, for some people the evidence presented on hysterical websites is all the evidence they need: hell, it fits their bleak, paranoid world-view that we’re all cogs in a vast machine – a vast machine that wants to sell us Coca-Cola or something.

But my brain will never be wired that way… I dunno… possibly because I’m not a psychopath?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The 9/11 wingnuts don’t even have ordinaryevidence, even after a decade of obsessing over every last element of that dreadful day in September. All they got is a one-way ticket to Palookaville.

You’ve had your say and I’ve allowed you to post your utterly bonkers links which users of this site may click on if they wish. Unless you have something new to add to this conversation – (and I’m talking something that could win you a Pulitzer), I won’t be approving your next reply.

You see, I have the power to approve people’s replies on this site, since I pay for it and maintain it myself.  I can also edit people’s replies.  And then Joe surprised everybody by writing:

You know, after reading your solid rebuttal I do admit it DOES all sound a bit silly. Maybe I’m just a little naive, you know, and the habit of stuff like ‘Loose Change’ to ignore the inconvenient facts, cherry-pick evidence that suits its (for-profit) agenda and take quotes out of context is really starting to make me question my entire opinion on the matter.

The ‘Machiavellian mindset’ thing you posted was very interesting, and I have to admit I do have a tenancy to think the worst of people and that everyone has a price. I guess I am a little paranoid and yeah, you’re right, I kinda wanted the government to have masterminded 9/11 – I don’t know why, possibly because it would confirm all the bad things I think about everybody who isn’t me.

I’m also concerned by something I noticed while surfing conspiracist websites… a definite anti-Semitic tone, one that has a tenancy to deny the holocaust (or say it ‘was no big deal’) and claim that a shadowy cabal of Jews are responsible for all of the world’s ills. It’s very similar to the rumours that led to the Pogroms in Russia and then the Holocaust itself, and that worries me, especially as my great-grandfather died fighting the Nazis and I’d hate to belittle his sacrifice by supporting the beliefs of right-wing fascists and racists – the very people he gave his life fighting against.

I found this brilliant article on the cracked.com website: http://www.cracked.com/article_15740_was-911-inside-job.html Cracked is pretty funny, but it really helped me to see things as they really are, rather than how I would want them to be.

Anyway, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for setting me straight, I’ll try in future to have a little bit more trust in the inherent goodness of humanity (after all – we’ve made it this far haven’t we?) and a little less time badgering people to believe in stuff that is — I admit — pretty far-fetched. I’ve been reading up on some of those issues you mentioned in a previous reply and I honestly believe that my time would be better spent spreading the word about stuff we SHOULD be getting angry about, and — more importantly — bad things that are happening right this moment that together we CAN do something about.

Take care and safe travels,
Joe.

PS. I did warn ya! ;-)

Oh, okay then… I wrote that last one myself.  Joe’s real last reply was (predictably) more links to YouTube videos and websites that gnash their teeth and holler about global conspiracies, with (as always) nothing but conjecture, cherry-picked evidence and the conceit of the paranoid mind to back them up.

But before I go, I just want to ask you something.

Q: What links Nazis, holocaust deniers, Soviet apparatchiks, climate change deniers, corrupt policeman, tin-pot dictatorships and 9/11 ‘truthers’?

A: A determined and concerted effort to take things out of context to fit their twisted world-view. 

Winston’s job in 1984 was an editor of history: he would physically black out facts in books and newspapers that were in contradiction to Big Brother’s narrative (one that, in the context of the novel, changed with political expediency).

It’s easy to do: I’m a professional video editor, I know what you mischief you can make with a clever snip here and there… you can change the true meaning or intent of just about anything.  Imagine Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal taken in isolation from all of his other clearly satirical works: it would be the ravings of a madman – a homicidal, cannibalistic madman.

If the only song you knew by John Lennon was Happiness is a Warm Gun  you would probably never guess that he was an avowed peace activist and that the song is either clearly ironic or a sexual (and possibly narcotic) metaphor.  As far as I’m aware people shooting real stuff with real guns didn’t make John Lennon happy – in fact it made him dead.

If all you knew of Nelson Mandela was that he was sent to jail for attempting to blow up a train, and the context of apartheid South Africa was missing from your narrative, you’d possibly be wondering why he was ever let out of his cell.  You’d crap your pants when you found out he was made President.

If the only clip of Star Wars Episode I you had seen was Darth Maul pulling out his double-ended lightsaber, you might be fooled into thinking Episode I was actually a good film.  It wasn’t.  Watch this re-edit of The Shining that makes the scariest movie of all time look like a heart-warming comedy.  Clue: it’s not that difficult.

In short, context is everything.  But for your local conspiracy-theorist (and the list of their fellow nasty badgers above), context is something to be suppressed, an irritation to be edited away – and there seem to be enough willing Winstons in the world happy to go along with it.  Maybe the government attached a rat to their faces once.

Conspiracy-theorists want you to ignore all the evidence to the contrary and fixate on a select line that fits their pre-conceived narrative – and so we find ourselves at the mercy of the tyranny of soundbites.  If you look at what the Nazis did with Nietzsche’s works, you’ll see how pernicious this practice is.  Watch out for it.

In any conspiracy rebuttal piece or video, you will notice a very different tactic: they invariably fail to show you the full video, the full interview, the full set of photographs – making it impossible to take the material out of context.  For every one photograph that the conspiracy nuts hold up as some sort of talisman of all truth and logic, the rebuttalists are more than happy to upload twenty that show what actually happened from all different angles.

This is important – it shows the conspiracy theorists for the deluded hypocrites they most certainly are.  They accuse the government (or whoever) of ‘covering up the truth’ and then proceed to use the exact same tactics that a ministry of propaganda would use in order to get its nefarious message across.

We all need to draw a line in our minds between what is true and what we wish were true.  Otherwise that line can become blurred; hence the number of people who go on X-Factor firmly believing that they can sing when even the deaf can see they cannot.  In order to draw another person into your wish-fulfilling delusions, they need to share the same desire for it to be the case: so you’re probably not going to get very far with me.

I hold a fairly strong belief (backed by evidence, of course) that conspiracy theorists are all of a particular mindset.  One that is generally paranoid, border-line psychopathic and Machiavellian to a greater extent than the general population.  If nothing else travelling to over 180 countries around the world has re-affirmed that not everybody is out to get me – most people are inherently good, law-abiding citizens who will go out of their way to help a straggly wayfarer in distress.

And until some Earth-shattering revelation is made by Wikileaks, the BBC, the Independent newspaper or two renegade journalists working for the Washington Post, I will never seriously entertain the mere possibility that those people brutally murdered on September 11 2001 were killed for any other reason than nineteen paranoid, psychopathic and Machiavellian bastards bought their golden tickets to the ancient and hollow lie that is the Elysian Fields with the blood of 2,977 innocent lives.

Conspiracy Nut Cornflakes David Icke

And David Icke says…….

The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity and damfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street, or some other such den of infamy.

H. L. Mencken, 1936