BS 123 – The Carlson / Putin Interview

My guest co-host today is Tony Kynaston from the QAV Investing Podcast. We’re talking about the Tucker Carlson interview with Putin and breaking down the lies, distortions and misinformation ABOUT the interview that we’re reading in the mainstream media, and asking why there is a need to distort Putin’s words in the West.

 

Transcript

BS 123
[00:00:00] Tony: 3,
[00:00:12] Tony: 2, 1.
[00:00:13] Cameron: Welcome to the Bullshit Filter episode 123 Special edition because, uh, Ray has been replaced
[00:00:23] Cameron: with a, uh, smarter, better looking version of Ray, uh, my o my other Ray Tony
[00:00:30] Cameron: Kynaston, and welcome to the Bullshit
[00:00:33] Cameron: Filter, Tony.
[00:00:35] Tony: Thank you, Cam. Thanks for the invite. And I, I feel special
[00:00:39] Cameron: Uh, you invited, you, you, you invited yourself? I think, uh,
[00:00:43] Cameron: actually, yeah. Yeah.
[00:00:45] Tony: I do.
[00:00:46] Cameron: We had a lot, we had a lot of people offered to come on, and I appreciate everyone’s offers, but I did say condition was, you had to watch the Putin interview. No one else, uh, seemed to be up for that. Tony goes, yeah, I can do that.
[00:00:58] Cameron: So he
[00:01:00] Tony: And that, and that was a high price to
[00:01:01] Tony: pay too, by the way.
[00:01:02] Cameron: Was it?
[00:01:03] Tony: Well, I didn’t mind listening to Putin, but
[00:01:06] Tony: Tucker Carlson, gimme a break.
[00:01:09] Cameron: Well, the, the upside is he didn’t, didn’t have much to say in the two
[00:01:13] Tony: it was a, I think a, a journalist would call that a softball interview.
[00:01:17] Cameron: Well, they’ve called it much, much worse than that. But look, and, and here’s, you know, there’s, there’s a couple of reasons for me being interested in this. Uh, number one.
[00:01:28] Cameron: Yeah. Uh, Putin’s obviously a, a major player in global geopolitics right now, and we don’t get to actually hear from him very often in the west.
[00:01:40] Cameron: Uh, and this is the first interview that an American journalist has got with him in over two years since the, this latest phase of the war, uh, began, the invasion began. Um, secondly, uh, you know, I think he’s, uh, he’s an interesting character. You, you know, you, you, you don’t run Russia for twenty-five years or whatever it’s been now, um, without having something going on.
[00:02:10] Cameron: He’s a smart canny player. Brutal, probably. And thirdly, and this is, I guess the main focus I want to give is just the level of outrage in the Western media about. Interview itself, even existing about Carlson doing the interview and, uh, and, and the outrage about the things that Putin allegedly said, which he didn’t actually say, I think, in the interview.
[00:02:45] Cameron: So I wanna cover the media coverage of it, and that’s kinda what the bullshit Filter originally was about, was looking at media coverage of big stories in the West and picking them apart to see if they’re providing a fair and reasonable, uh, coverage of the stories or if it’s bullshit. And I’ve read a lot of new stories about this and, and by and large, uh, I’m calling bullshit on a lot of it.
[00:03:12] Cameron: Anyway, let’s start with the interview, Tony. Um, I mean, I, you and I, I don’t think have talked a great deal about we, uh, Putin or Russia or Ukraine. Do you wanna give me your high level view on what’s been going on over there for the last 10 years?
[00:03:31] Tony: I’m not sure I can or I’m qualified. You, you probably know that far better than I
[00:03:36] Cameron: No.
[00:03:36] Cameron: one on this show has ever qualified
[00:03:38] Tony: yeah.
[00:03:38] Cameron: anything, don’t he?
[00:03:40] Tony: Well, you talk interesting, you said 10 years. I assume you’re referring back to the last time the
[00:03:45] Tony: government changed when, um, uh, Russia, annexed Crimea, and then there was a bit of a coup around that time as Well, Is that what you’re talking about? Is that why you said 10 years?
[00:03:55] Cameron: Well, uh, yeah. So Putin’s view, and, and I
[00:03:59] Cameron: tend to agree with him, is that in 2014 in Ukraine there was a coup, it was a US.
[00:04:05] Cameron: Uh, supported, if not engineered coup. There was an earlier coup, it was a 2004 coup, then there was the 2014 coup, uh, both led slash supported slash engineered, we believe by the, I believe by the United States.
[00:04:22] Cameron: To what degree? It’s hard to say, but there seems to be sufficient evidence to say that they were involved to some degree. Um, but you know, it’s the last 10 years is really when the Donbass situation became a thing. The Crimea became a thing, et cetera, et
[00:04:38] Cameron: cetera. Yeah.
[00:04:40] Tony: Yeah, I found it really hard to, to get to the truth, I guess, on the Donbass thing. I remember, um, when the, uh, probably prior to the Ukraine war, um, starting, I, I did hear some interviews. I think it was on the BBC World Service with, uh, which alleged that there was a flood of. Russian-speaking, um, Russian-affiliated Ukrainians crossing the border back into Russia.
[00:05:09] Tony: And that, that was because of alleged persecution from neo-Nazis in Ukraine on that sort of border region. And therefore, that was the justification for Putin having to take action. So, um, I tried to look up those articles in preparation for this and I couldn’t find them. So I can’t really talk about it in depth, but, but it’s, to me, it’s really hard to, to drill down and find out exactly what’s going on.
[00:05:35] Tony: Um, uh, it, it’s been hard as it always is in, I guess in a wartime situation. It’s been hard to get even accurate information about what’s going on in Ukraine during the war. And I probably relied a bit more on Al Jazeera for, for news on that rather than the Western media. Um, now Al Jazeera does have its problems too, but at least it was reporting issues like that.
[00:05:58] Tony: Pretty failure. And it was actually quite riveting the way they were reporting they were on the ground in the early days, reporting as, as suburb by suburb. The Russians started to get close to Kiev and, and get into Kiev and what was going on there. So that was, that was far better than the Western journalism.
[00:06:15] Tony: Um, and it was far more independent. So, uh, listening to the Putin interview, I think it was really interesting when he started to talk about his point of view on things like, uh, the, uh, the visit of Zelensky to the Canadian Parliament when the speaker and the Canadian parliament, uh, praised a, a war hero who turned out to be a, um, a Nazi or a neo-Nazi.
[00:06:39] Tony: A Nazi, I think actually. And then the speaker had to resign. So that didn’t get, that was the first time I’d heard of that. That didn’t get much coverage over here at all. So there is obviously two sides to every story. And I think, you know, it’s a show like this, which is good to pull it apart because. You know, as, as you know, it’s, um, the media is one of the institutions that manipulates us in, in our points of view and our, our lifestyles.
[00:07:03] Tony: And definitely in the West, that can be shaped by just straight capitalism and who, uh, who is paying for what ads in the media and, and who, what kind of agendas are they pushing and what kind
[00:07:16] Tony: of, uh, you know, political, uh, persuasions are they pushing and or do they have allegiances to or do they control?
[00:07:23] Tony: So it’s a, it’s a big issue.
[00:07:25] Cameron: mm It is, and it it, you know, I guess part of the reason
[00:07:31] Cameron: for me being interested in doing this show
[00:07:33] Cameron: is, uh, you know, the historian side of me knows how I. Regularly Western populations have been lied to historically during wars, uh, going back to World War I all the way through to, you know, Vietnam, um, and the, the Gulf Wars.
[00:07:53] Cameron: And, you know, there seems to be this fascinating cycle where we go through a war, we go through a conflict that we’re either directly involved in or indirectly involved in. And the government of the day and the media of the day spin a whole bunch of propaganda about it. We find out years later that they lied or spun or manipulated or there was no evidence for WMD and, you know, the attacks on this ship or that ship weren’t really
[00:08:25] Cameron: attacks ill that Yeah.
[00:08:28] Cameron: And, and the media says Mia culpa will never do that again. I. And the people tend to say, wah-ha. Now we understand that we will never be lied to again. And then the cycle just repeats. You know, within a decade there’s another incident and the media jump on board. The governments jump on board and the people just go along for the ride and believe everything again.
[00:08:50] Cameron: And inevitably a few years later they’ll go, oh no, we were lied to. Oh,
[00:08:53] Cameron: never again, you know?
[00:08:56] Tony: Well, you raised some great points, Cam, and they’re pertinent to this topic as well. And you know, it’s interesting, I think that there is no crime of misrepresentation in journalism, even though journalists will always say, we need to get to the facts and we want to, um, report them objectively, and we need two sources and we need hard evidence if none of those things happen.
[00:09:16] Tony: They get off Scot-free, and in fact, if they don’t happen, their readership may actually go up. So that’s, that’s the first thing to, to address what you’ve said. But the second thing about what you’re saying as well is that, particularly in this case, there’s an awful lot of money involved. Um, you know, Congress has stalled now on a multi-billion dollar aid package to Ukraine.
[00:09:38] Tony: And as, as we both know, that, that aid probably won’t ever reach Ukraine. It’ll be given to American companies providing arms to, uh, Ukraine, which is, which is fine in terms of helping Ukraine, uh, fight off the Russians, but it’s, it, you know, leads you to think, well, who’s behind that? Who benefits from that?
[00:09:56] Tony: And it’s the arms dealers in the, in the us the ominous manufacturers in the us. To benefit from it. So they’re always spoiling for a fight. ’cause it, it’s a good way to increase sales. So, um, yeah. The, the last 10 years, has it, has it been a swing to the Western Ukraine and has it been natural that Ukraine has therefore felt, um, more antagonistic or antagonized by Russia?
[00:10:24] Tony: And has that been fueled by the military-industrial complex in the US who are saying, well, you know, we, we kinda like it that there could be an antagonism on the border. It may actually work out for us.
[00:10:37] Cameron: mm
[00:10:41] Cameron: mm mm
[00:10:47] Cameron: mm mm mm mm. Mm mm. The, there, there are certain interests in Western countries who love good war because it’s economically profitable. And it’s not just the, the weapons manufacturers, it’s the media. ’cause big conflicts drive newspaper sales, television viewership, radio listeners, which means you can sell more ads.
[00:11:09] Cameron: Uh, and they’re cross related, obvious, uh, uh, often ownership issues between the owners of big media companies and the owners of weapons manufacturers. And, but it’s also, as we’ve, we’ve talked about on the Cold War Show, uh, many, many times and on this show, when there have been studies done on this in the US primarily. Who benefits from the industrial military complex over there? It’s not just weapon manufacturers, it’s businesses of all shapes and sizes. Because particularly US America’s, 800 odd military bases around the world need socks and condoms and food and computers and software paperclips, right? And so every congress person, every senator in the US has people in their district who run businesses, who have Pentagon contracts, and it’s a big chunk of their revenue.
[00:12:05] Cameron: And it’s easy money once you have that contract. It’s not competitive. They’re not like, uh, running a, a tender every year for this. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it. Quite often there’s, there’s a sense of urgency. Oh, we just need the stuff. We’ve gotta get it now. It’s urgent. We need it
[00:12:22] Tony: It’s a rush job.
[00:12:23] Cameron: Yeah. So it’s, it’s good for business.
[00:12:27] Cameron: Anyway, back to the coverage. So most of the coverage that I’ve read, and obviously I haven’t read everything, but I try and get a smattering of, you know, I, I read the BBC and the New York Times, and the Guardian and the ABC here in Australia and CBC in Canada, and try and get a coverage of what the, the major media outlets, uh, saying about this.
[00:12:47] Cameron: It’s a combination, I think, of lies, outright lies and distortion of what Putin said. And a lot of it is just attacking Carlson, both for giving Putin airtime in the first place, or for his weak interviewing skills. To me, the only real crime Carlson committed is having a very punchable face. Uh, he’s, he, he’s just one of those guys that just Chrissie walked through the, the living room a couple of times and I thought she’s going, oh my God, I just wanna punch him in the face.
[00:13:25] Tony: Yeah, he’s a smug white man, isn’t he?
[00:13:27] Cameron: He is, look, he is, uh, like, I mean, you’ve gotta be a pretty horrible person for the Murdochs to get rid of you. You know, when he got fired from Fox
[00:13:36] Cameron: last year, he was the most viewed cable network host in, not only in Fox, but in the United States. And they got rid of him when they were in the dominion of Voting Systems lawsuit.
[00:13:50] Cameron: And a whole bunch of his texts and emails were gonna become released as evidence. And, you know, it was just evident that he was a racist, vile piece of shit. And it, it was probably gonna cost them. Uh, and, you know, he was up on harassment, uh, accusations from employees. And it had come out that while they were pushing Trump in the last election behind the scenes, he was saying that he hated Trump.
[00:14:17] Cameron: And Trump was awful and he hoped Trump loses so they wouldn’t have to talk about him anymore. I dunno if that’s in the plus or the minus column for him, but he, you know, he was saying that internally, but publicly
[00:14:28] Cameron: praising Trump, you know, so
[00:14:30] Tony: Oh, and pushing the, pushing the voter fraud argument for Trump. That’s why he was so pivotal in that Dominion settlement. That’s an interesting book by Michael Wolf, if anyone wants to read it, to go through that whole process and
[00:14:41] Tony: how they thought in um, offering up Carlson’s resignation, it might help lower the settlement, but it didn’t.
[00:14:46] Tony: Of course, they paid a record settlement to, um, to the Dominion to drop the case.
[00:14:52] Cameron: So I’m in no way, shape or form a fan of Tucker Carlson or, uh, uh, trying to apologize for Tucker Carlson. But
[00:15:01] Cameron: I, I, I think the, the amount of coverage that’s given in these stories to, instead of coverage of what Putin actually said is disproportionate.
[00:15:12] Tony: Right.
[00:15:13] Cameron: If they don’t actually, when they do talk about Putin, they don’t tend to address his actual claims.
[00:15:18] Cameron: One of the exceptions by the way, is Al Jazeera, like the Al Jazeera coverage is typically very dry and factual. Here are the five major points that Putin made in the interview kind of thing, right? So I agree with you, Al Jazeera increasingly is the place where I go to, if I want to actually find out what’s going on or what was said.
[00:15:38] Cameron: Um, they don’t talk about Putin’s actual claims. You know, about NATO enlargement, about the CIA blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines, which we’ve talked about a lot on this show over the last year or so about the US and the UK preventing Ukraine from agreeing to a negotiated end of the conflict early on, which we’ve also talked about a lot on the show.
[00:15:58] Cameron: Like a lot of the points that Putin was making are valid. Uh, and you know, we’ve gone over them in previous episodes, so I’m not gonna like reiterate all of them, but the, the. Key issue here is that the Western media, by and large, doesn’t talk about them. If they do, they dismiss them in a couple of words as being nonsense and just move on.
[00:16:23] Cameron: Like there’s no real addressing of the issues in a serious way. And the two questions that I have, Tony, is one, why the lying by the media? Why the lying and the distortion? Why is it that the media needs to demonize our enemies and the Western journalists? And it’s not just when it comes to external enemies.
[00:16:45] Cameron: This happens over and over with internal enemies. We’ve seen this with Julian Assange, we’ve seen this with Glenn Greenwald, we’ve seen this with Matt Tabe. These are, you know, journalists who, when they’re writing stories that the left in support of, they’re considered heroes of the left when they’re attacking the right.
[00:17:07] Cameron: As soon as they write stories that are attacking. The left, particularly the Democrats in the us, they’re vilified not only by, you know, democratic politicians, but all of the Democratic supporters and the media. They attack their own, they eat their young attack. The journalists as being, you know, when Matt Tabe was writing the, uh, Twitter files stuff, he got absolutely attacked mercilessly by the rest of the media.
[00:17:36] Cameron: Greenwald gets it every time. He, you know, says something negative about a Democratic administration. Julian Assange obviously still in prison, and, uh, they’re trying to extradite him so he can serve 173 years in jail in the United States for revealing their crimes. And the second question, building on that is, is how is it coordinated?
[00:17:59] Cameron: How is it that all of the Western media in this particular instance, seem to have the same script? How does that work? How is it coordinated? Like there’s plenty of clips, I dunno if you’ve seen them on YouTube, where they do this with say, Fox News, where they’ll have, uh, you know, one reporter or on one of the shows on Fox, uh, not just on Fox News, but all the Fox stuff making a statement about, you know, this something wrong with the system.
[00:18:28] Cameron: And then they’ll just start adding clips of different Fox hosts saying the exact same words. And it’s just, they, they often when it’s talking about, you know, we’re fair and balanced and giving you independent thinking and it’s just, they’re all reading from the same script. So, and obviously it’s easy to understand how that happens inside of one outlet, but how does it happen right across.
[00:18:51] Cameron: Countries, different media outlets, some of them supposedly independent, like not government, uh, or, or the ABC, whatever we call the ABC here. Like it’s a independent government funded media company that supposedly independent and, and, you know, aspires to a higher level of journalistic integrity. But they’re singing from the same hymn sheet as Fox News and MSNBC and everybody else.
[00:19:23] Cameron: I can’t figure out really how that works if it’s coordinated or it’s just, Hey, we’re on this side of the, we’re on this side of the camp, so we’re just gonna
[00:19:35] Cameron: jump on board.
[00:19:36] Tony: Well, I think the answer is multifaceted. I think lazy journalism plays a part. So, you know, if Tucker Carlson broadcasts an interview overnight in Australian time, then there’s probably gonna be something on the wire. So on the Reuters or AAP or whoever else that these news outlets use, summarizing it.
[00:19:56] Tony: And they, oftentimes, it’s, it’s not the headline story for Australian News, so they’ll just copy and paste paragraphs and put it into their, their newspaper or into teleprompter for the news, and then maybe a day or two later realize they’ve got some of the things wrong, but it’s the news cycles moved on then.
[00:20:12] Tony: So I think lazy journalism is a part, I don’t think there’s a coordinated effort apart from that. I mean, those, those wire services go into every news outlet in the world. So there is a certain amount of similarity in, in what gets reported,
[00:20:28] Cameron: A Reuters or an
[00:20:28] Cameron: AAP feed that they’re grabbing it from.
[00:20:30] Tony: Correct, yeah. Quickly. And, you know, having an editor shout at them that the deadline’s looming and we have to put a story out about Putin.
[00:20:39] Tony: Um, I think there’s a bit of that. I think there’s also, unfortunately, these days probably, maybe it’s always been the same, but it didn’t feel that way when I was younger. There’s more of it these days where it’s an echo chamber. The media’s, the media outlets have drawn sides, which I think is also behind the attacks on Tucker Carlson.
[00:20:58] Tony: He’s from the other side and he’s an easy target, so we’re gonna focus on him. We’re not of that side because our listeners, our readers wanna hear something, you know, written about. It’s written about what they think. Um, and their, their point of view was they’re against the war in Ukraine, they’re against Putin and therefore against Putin, and they’re against.
[00:21:19] Tony: Fox News and therefore Tucker Carlson, even though Tucker Carlson doesn’t work for Fox News anymore. So there’s, there’s that kind of mindset as well. The, the tribalism of the media is more exaggerated these days I think, as well. Um, and then there’s the political sphere of things too. The tribalism either bled from politics or it’s bled into politics from the media, but the same sort of thing.
[00:21:40] Tony: I mean, uh, media Bytes a show on the ABC here at nine 30 in Australia on a Monday night regularly shows every morning news presenter across the commercial networks across the ABC saying the same thing, using the same phrase. So, you know, there’s an element of, of, um, it’s quick journalism. It’s coming from the same source, and occasionally they’re putting their
[00:22:02] Tony: own slant on it to try and appeal to their audience and
[00:22:05] Tony: get them to keep listening and watching what they say.
[00:22:08] Cameron: I think you’re probably right. Um, I think media outlets. No, you know, it’s an increasingly competitive media landscape and hard to run a profitable media business. Um, there’s been a number of articles I’ve read over the last month or so about all the major newspapers in the us, including the ones bought by billionaires like Jeff Bezos are struggling to make money.
[00:22:34] Cameron: They’re, they’re bleeding money and, uh, you know, smaller media outlets like Vice have shut down ’cause they couldn’t become or maintain profitable. Um, it’s, it’s a tough time out there. So they, you know, there’s business people knowing who their audience is. This is what our audience wants to hear, this is what our advertisers need to hear us say.
[00:22:58] Cameron: So they’ll continue to support it and you
[00:23:00] Cameron: just toe the line.
[00:23:02] Tony: Yeah, I was, I mean, I’d add to that. That, um, it was really the internet which killed journalism because when classified ads moved from newspapers to online, and we had companies like Seek in Australia and Realestate.com.au and Domain, and they’ve got other examples around the world where home ads and job ads go online.
[00:23:26] Tony: Then the newspapers lost what was called the rivers of gold, and they became unprofitable and they started sucking journalists to try and, um, cut costs to keep, keep things profitable. So they just isn’t the staff anymore to check. And coupled with, uh, as you say, ad advertisers who. Know that if they take out an ad in the garden, they’re not gonna sell many fridges, but if they take it out in a telegraph, they’re gonna sell all the fridges.
[00:23:54] Tony: So then, you know, you get this sort of cycle of we’ll advertise with you as long as you’re engaging with the readers in the western suburbs who are all new homeowners and wanna buy fridges. As soon as you lose that market, we’ll
[00:24:06] Tony: take our ads and put it somewhere else. So it’s a, it is a real echo chamber,
[00:24:10] Cameron: Or it’s, it’s as simple. Even if that conversation doesn’t happen, it’s like, give me your media kit. Who are your, who are your customers? What are the demographics? Yeah. Okay. That’s not our demographic. Sorry. If you wanna appeal to us, you have to be appealing to
[00:24:24] Cameron: that demographic, and that
[00:24:26] Tony: And the flips.
[00:24:27] Cameron: read you if they hear a certain kind of story.
[00:24:29] Tony: and the flip side applies too. Um, if, if, uh, the Guardian in Australia ran an article praising a. Tucker Carlson, it would start to lose readership and it would start to lose advertisements. And there are just different type of supplies with those ads in the Guardian. I mean, I haven’t read the Guardian for a long time, but I imagine it’s, you know, ads for wind farms and alternative energy and things like that.
[00:24:51] Tony: And they’re not gonna um, they’re not gonna keep paying the price they pay. Now if the Guardian’s readership goes down.
[00:24:58] Cameron: Yeah, so it’s, it’s basic economics, which is driving the slant on the coverage for a lot of these stories. And you know, it reminds me when I first moved to Brisbane, nearly, I don’t know, 16 years ago this year, I guess I was invited to, I think it was University of Queensland to speak as part of a panel to, uh, an incoming bunch of, uh, journalism students.
[00:25:29] Cameron: This is about 2008, would’ve been. And middle of 2008, and they got to, you know, my turn. It was, and the other people on the panel were all like editors and, you know, whatever’s, uh, real media, real journalists sort of people. And they’re all like, oh, it’s a very fine profession and it’s a, you know, it’s congratulations and blah, blah, blah.
[00:25:52] Cameron: They got to me, it’s a bunch of these poor eighteen-year-old kids. And I said, I just feel sorry for the lot of you because by the time you leave here, there aren’t gonna be any jobs left in journalism. And they’re like, oh, what? And, and, and they were like having a go. And I said, look, it’s just the economics man.
[00:26:06] Cameron: Like these journalism businesses are bleeding money and it’s not gonna stop. The economics of the, of the industry has fundamentally changed you. You, there aren’t gonna be any jobs. And they, they all said that I was being hyperbolic, uh, classic Cameron Reilly hyperbole, and blah, blah, blah, blah. And you know, it played out that way.
[00:26:25] Cameron: You can’t fight the economics right.
[00:26:27] Tony: No, you can’t fight economics
[00:26:29] Tony: You’re right. But I think also too, around that time, I, I mean, um, wind the clock back a bit further, when I did intro journalism at Queensland Uni and, uh, I, I worked out pretty soon that, you know, from talking, but being in tutorials with editors from papers and, you know, lots of people would come and talk to the journalism classes almost every week.
[00:26:47] Tony: There’d be a different editor or, or someone coming along. They, you know, first of all, sport played a big part in, in journalism in Queensland. And secondly, it was a, it was a club, it was a network and they, the people who would, you know, that they were after were knock about rugby types who could have a beer with anyone and get, you know, catch someone off guard and do a gotcha type article.
[00:27:08] Tony: Uh, there there was two camps. There was those types of people, which was I think the, the, the majority. And then there was the, the, um, as you say, the honest independent professionals like Eleanor Taylor, I. Who argue at university. I think she now edits the Guardian, um, who does have, have high journalistic
[00:27:26] Tony: standards, but, but they’re in the minority. And and they’re in the minority because they, the careers that that they started off in just weren’t there
[00:27:33] Tony: for them in the end.
[00:27:35] Cameron: I think they’ve always been in the minority. And have you ever read Chomsky and Herman’s
[00:27:40] Cameron: manufacturing consent?
[00:27:42] Tony: Yeah. And seen the documentary.
[00:27:43] Cameron: Hmm. So the model that they put forward, which was Herman’s model, um, Chomsky gives him credit for it, and they got it from an Australian guy. You ever read the Australian guy that they got that from Herman Got it from, can’t remember his name.
[00:27:58] Cameron: He passed away quite young, sadly. Um, but he, he was a, I think he was from Queensland. He wrote a book in the early nineties, um, which I’ve got somewhere. But he, he basically broke down the model in the same way. And they, and Herman and Chomsky reference him and, um, give him credit for breaking it down. But he was basically saying that. You know, uh, and I, I think I talked about this a bit in our psychopath book, but that if you are, when you are interviewing as a journalist to get inside of a media organization, they’re looking for are you gonna fit in? Are you gonna be part of the team? Are you gonna work well? Are you, are you going to fit in with the culture of the organization?
[00:28:40] Cameron: And they will weed out people that have views that are diametrically opposed to them politically. Uh, and if somebody sneaks through and who has diametrically opposed, uh, political views and it starts to show up and they’re writing, they’ll be, they’ll be urged to get in line. And if they don’t, they’ll be put on the.
[00:29:02] Cameron: You know, a different bait, a sport bait or something that doesn’t have a political leading or, or an independent opportunity for independent thinking, or they’ll get fired or, or, you know, or conditions will be made so difficult for them to continue working there that they will pack their bag and go somewhere else.
[00:29:20] Cameron: There are different filter mechanisms that have always been in place to weed out the
[00:29:25] Cameron: undesirables.
[00:29:27] Tony: And the, the classic example, which happened just recently was Antoinette Latouf at the ABC.
[00:29:32] Cameron: exactly. Which you might wanna explain that story for our many international
[00:29:36] Cameron: listeners.
[00:29:38] Tony: Yeah. So, uh, she was a casual presenter who came in, uh, to the ABC, which is our, our national broadcaster, um, just on a short-term contract. Uh, and it was, you know, a light and breezy type type role. But, but she was, uh, an Arab Australian who was, um, pro-Palestine and, uh, and, and, um, against the Israeli aggression in Gaza.
[00:30:05] Tony: And she lasted three days and then was, um, sacked under pressure from a bunch of, uh, well, supposedly under pressure from a bunch of Jewish lawyers. I’m
[00:30:13] Tony: not sure if that actually happened, but that was alleged.
[00:30:16] Tony: Uh, but she was sacked by the ABC anyway, ’cause of, um, uh, certainly a, a heightened media profile over her stance.
[00:30:23] Cameron: Well there, I mean, there’s, there was evidence that the um,
[00:30:27] Cameron: Zionist Lobby group of Jewish lawyers, etc. Tried to put pressure on the
[00:30:32] Cameron: ABC. Coincidentally or not fired her. So yes, it’s not hard to draw the dots, even though the ABC denies that it had,
[00:30:43] Cameron: uh, any influence on it.
[00:30:45] Tony: Yeah. And I’ll say it. allegedly happened that way, but, but certainly the fact is she was, she was sacked after three days.
[00:30:52] Cameron: So I wanna talk a little bit about, uh, Putin’s, uh, claims
[00:30:57] Cameron: about the history. So,
[00:30:58] Cameron: uh, early on in
[00:30:59] Cameron: the interview, he says to Tucker, are we gonna have a serious conversation or is this just gonna be light frothy entertainment? Um, Tucker says, no, it’s gonna be serious. And Putin says, let me, let me take
[00:31:10] Cameron: 30 seconds to explain the history of Russia and
[00:31:12] Tony: Yeah.
[00:31:14] Cameron: And he’s obviously a fan of my podcasts because
[00:31:18] Cameron: half an hour later,
[00:31:19] Tony: podcast. Yeah.
[00:31:21] Cameron: half an hour later, he finally wrapped that up. But. Uh, a lot of the criticism about Putin in the media when he does this stuff is about his version of the history of Russia and Ukraine. Uh, and I, I’ll give you an example here. This is from the BBC, an article entitled Tucker Carlson Interview Fact Checking, Putin’s Nonsense History.
[00:31:49] Cameron: And they say, Sergey Radchenko historian at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Study says the President’s claim is a complete falsehood. Vladimir Putin is trying to construct a narrative backwards, saying Russia as a state began its development in the ninth century. You could equally say that Ukraine as a state began its development in the ninth century exactly with the same kind of evidence and documents. So you, you see a lot of this in, um, the media coverage sort of. Uh, uh, sweeping attacks on Putin’s version of the history. But then they don’t actually say what he got wrong. It’s a complete falsehood. Alright, what did he actually get wrong? They don’t actually say what he got wrong. It’s just, oh, it’s just all nonsense.
[00:32:42] Cameron: So not being an expert on the history of this part of the world, um, what I did was I took the transcript, um, of the interview, took all of Putin’s statements and I put them into ChatGPT and I said, let me give you some quotes about the history of Russia and Ukraine and tell, tell me if they’re factually correct or not.
[00:33:08] Cameron: So I threw it all into ChatGPT and basically what it gave me back was, listen, this is actually correct. Um, the interpretation though. Of what this means is, uh, it’s a particular interpretation. Uh, and there are, it could be debated, you know, there are other views and, you know, it’s complicated. State-nation history, state history, very complicated and complex.
[00:33:39] Cameron: And there are a lot of intertwining factors and, you know, a, a different points of view that could be debated, et cetera, et cetera. But factually, it didn’t really have, um, any criticisms of, uh, I mean, I, I sent you the, the, the link to the
[00:33:55] Cameron: chat. Did you have a chance to read through that?
[00:33:58] Tony: I did, yeah. I read the other links too, from the B, B, C, et cetera on what they were saying about, about that too. Um, I, I, I guess, you know, let me preface my comments by saying, I, I think there’s a reason behind Putin spending half an hour at the start of the interview saying what he did.
[00:34:13] Cameron: Sure.
[00:34:13] Tony: Um, it’s, and it was, I, I, um, looked up.
[00:34:18] Tony: You know, the, the history as well. And I came across a Forbes magazine article, which I thought was, um, interesting, where they went into the, the fact that Putin had written an essay about this before the war and was basically regurgitating this in the first part of the interview. Um, I. Yeah. But, um, but, uh, the essence of that, of the Forbes article was that Putin wasn’t speaking to Carlson.
[00:34:42] Tony: He was speaking to his own people that, yeah, the, the Forbes article didn’t call it propaganda, but that’s probably what it was. It was Putin laying out his reasons for the war and hugging on the heartstrings of a particular demographic in Russia that, you know, he thought would support it, um, by going through the history of Ukraine, especially people who were older and, and probably had memories from World War II.
[00:35:06] Tony: So I, I think that’s one of the reasons why Putin did all that. I think the other reason he did it was it’s not a bad ploy. If you’re being interviewed and you’re not a hundred percent sure that the interview is going to give you a good hearing, it’s just to. To keep talking, to keep pushing your point of view and just see if they push back and ask questions.
[00:35:25] Tony: And, and Carlson didn’t, so Putin just laid out his whole manifesto for invading Ukraine, um, and which was, you know, couched in the guise of history. So I think that’s the first thing to say about it. Whether it’s right or wrong, Putin was talking to a demographic in Russia. It was, it was essentially propaganda and Carlson never picked him up.
[00:35:44] Tony: The other beautiful thing about that is because probably a lot of journalists didn’t have two hours to listen to the whole interview. They focus on the first 10 minutes. Um, and Criticise the history of it. But, but as we both know, it’s, it. History’s always open to interpretation. You know, I was trying to find analogies to it, and I sort of came up with two.
[00:36:04] Tony: One would be to say, if Australia invaded New Zealand on a justification that Captain Cook landed in both places, that, you know, it’s, it’s a pretty weak justification for it. But on the other hand, if the Aboriginals say, you know, we wanna take back Australia and we wanna fight for it because we were invaded, that’s probably a closer analogy to the sort of line that Putin was pushing, that Ukraine was part of Russia historically, and it’s, you know, through various events in history got separated and now it should be rejoined.
[00:36:33] Tony: So, you know, I, I get why he’s pushing that argument. But it, but you’re right, it was weak journalism to focus on that and to try, and it was smart of Putin to pick a fight on that. Like, let the journalists debate history with him.
[00:36:45] Tony: They’re not gonna win.
[00:36:47] Cameron: Yeah, look in Tucker Carlson’s preemptive example to airing the interview, he talked about the history lesson that Putin gave him and that they, he thought it was filibustering. He’s just trying to use up the time. Um, but then he changed his view on that. Uh, I don’t, I disagree that Putin was doing that for a Russian audience because Putin has no trouble.
[00:37:13] Cameron: Communicating to a Russian audience in Russia. He, he’s in Russian Media all the time. You know, he’s written articles, he gives speeches. He doesn’t need to tell this story to a Russian audience. The Russian audience that support Putin know this story and they
[00:37:29] Cameron: know his views on it.
[00:37:30] Tony: Well, sure. But, but this was the biggest story in Russian News. I mean, every, every news outlet was trumpeting the fact that a Western journalist had come to Russia and, and sat, sat down with Putin for two hours,
[00:37:41] Tony: and it had been a good interview. So it was getting a higher media profile. And the Russian audience he may have been targeting may not live in Russia.
[00:37:47] Tony: They may have
[00:37:48] Tony: maybe expats in the west as well.
[00:37:51] Cameron: Okay. I I, I do think he’s telling that story for international audiences as well.
[00:37:58] Tony: Mm-hmm.
[00:37:59] Cameron: But here’s my point, is that whatever his reasons are for telling the story, the story’s not incorrect as far as I can tell. With the limited amount of time I’ve had to research it. And also the fact that when I read the Western Media criticisms of the history, they don’t actually point out where he’s wrong.
[00:38:19] Cameron: They don’t say, this is factually incorrect or that is factually incorrect. Look it up. They go, well, yeah, but I could say that about this. Or it’s a, or blanket statements like it’s a complete falsehood, which it’s obviously not. Now I’ve got a lot of time for Sergey Rodchenko read a couple of his books.
[00:38:38] Cameron: He’s written a lot of good books on particularly the Cold War and the Atomic Bomb. Now he’s a Russian born academic, uh, I think Canadian academic. Um, Russian Canadian, but based at John Hopkins now. But, um, it’s obviously not a complete falsehood. So again, I have this question in my head is why can’t.
[00:39:02] Cameron: Academics or the media that are choosing which academics, and we know that they pick and choose who they’re gonna quote from. Why do they have to lie about this? Why do they have to say, why can’t they say, well, look, factually what he’s saying is correct. However, his interpretation of it is biased. Why does it have to, why do they have to say it’s a complete falsehood?
[00:39:24] Cameron: I remember when, um, the invasion first happened and I was on Facebook and I saw his story and friends of mine, um, in, in the US saying the same thing, complete falsehoods, including one guy who comes from that part of the world, complete falsehoods, f you know, Putin’s, fake history, blah, blah, blah. And I go, well, tell me exactly where he is wrong with the history.
[00:39:49] Cameron: Then they just disappear and they don’t come back to it. Like, he’s not like Putin’s a, he’s not an idiot. I love the fact that he said, uh, Carlson, I believe your background is in history. Right? ’cause Carlson’s got his Bachelor of history. I was thinking, yeah, Ray’s got a Bachelor of history too. I mean, they’re not worth much in the US apparently.
[00:40:06] Cameron: Uh, he, uh, but I’m pretty sure that Putin knows his history. He’s not just making this stuff up. Like he’s, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s, he’s a smart guy. He’s very well, you know, and, and, and the other thing I always think is,
[00:40:25] Cameron: I’d love to see an American president sit down and give an hour-long lecture on history.
[00:40:32] Cameron: Could you imagine Joe Biden sitting down and giving an hour-long lecture on something that happened, like the history of a region of the world over
[00:40:40] Cameron: 1500
[00:40:41] Tony: Well, you. You’d need a, like a
[00:40:43] Tony: sign language expert beside a, beside just going, no, no, no, no. Just
[00:40:48] Tony: He
[00:40:48] Tony: didn’t mean the, he didn’t mean the
[00:40:49] Tony: president of Mexico. He meant the president
[00:40:51] Cameron: Of Egypt. Yeah. Did you see John Stewart on the Daily Show last
[00:40:56] Cameron: week covering that?
[00:40:58] Tony: no.
[00:40:59] Cameron: He was telling the story and you know how the, um, special prosecutor looking into Biden’s Garage document said that he was a,
[00:41:08] Cameron: a well-meaning not nice old man with a poor memory. And then he had the bit where Biden got up, uh, in front of the Press Corps to like dispute this.
[00:41:16] Cameron: And then he, he walked away from the podium and John was like, yes, you nailed it. And then Putin starts to walk away. And then, uh, sorry. Putin. Biden starts to walk away. Then he stops and turns around and goes back to the party, mean John’s. Like, no, don’t go back. Don’t go back. And that’s when he delivered the president of Mexico line.
[00:41:36] Tony: Uh.
[00:41:38] Cameron: Like he is like, let, let me do a, let me do a one, uh, man play of what all of Biden’s advisors were doing at this moment. It’s just they’re throwing their notepads and pulling their hair out and screaming. Uh, anyway, um, so again, uh, the key point here is that it, it, it’s often interesting when I’m analyzing media stories about stuff like this to pay attention to what they’re not saying
[00:42:05] Tony: Mm-Hmm.
[00:42:07] Cameron: versus what they are saying.
[00:42:10] Cameron: Again, it’s if he is factually incorrect, if it is a complete falsehood. Why aren’t you telling me how it’s factually incorrect? I mean, that would be the obvious thing to do. It’s complete falsehood. For example, he made, he made points 1, 2, 3, 4, and five, and they’re all, and this is why they’re incorrect, right?
[00:42:30] Cameron: When they don’t do that, my bullshit filter goes off and I’m like, hold on a second, and well, why aren’t they telling me why it’s wrong? This article goes on to say, Mr. Radchenko denies Mr. Putin’s claims that Ukraine is not a real country because it was formed in its modern form in the 20th century. Now, Putin never said, Ukraine is not a real country.
[00:42:50] Tony: Mm.
[00:42:51] Cameron: Carlson said that,
[00:42:53] Tony: Yeah.
[00:42:55] Cameron: but Putin never said that. So again, they’re putting words in his mouth to make it seem
[00:43:04] Cameron: like he’s taking view. Now, what he did say is. After World War II Ukraine received, in addition to the lands that have belonged to Poland before the war, parts of the lands that have previously belonged to Hungary and Romania today, Western Ukraine.
[00:43:18] Cameron: So Romania and Hungary had some of their lands taken away and given to the Ukraine, and they still remain part of the Ukraine. So in this sense, we have every reason to affirm that Ukraine is an artificial state that was shaped at Stalin’s will. Now, I don’t think that’s the same as saying Ukraine is not a real country.
[00:43:38] Tony: Yeah.
[00:43:39] Cameron: Am I being
[00:43:40] Tony: Look. No, no. Look, I agree with you a hundred percent. Um, but again, I, I think I’m kind of chomping at the bit to go past the history part of this interview because, uh, you know, I think, I think Putin’s very smart and he knows that a lot of the journalists wouldn’t get past the history part of the interview.
[00:43:56] Tony: And you can debate history until the cows come home and, and, uh, you know, he, neither side’s really gonna win. I agree with all your points about, about the attacks being subjective and,
[00:44:08] Tony: um, not focusing on the facts and just focusing on interpretation, but I’d much rather talk about some of the other things that Putin’s talked about in the, in the interview.
[00:44:19] Tony: Yeah.
[00:44:19] Cameron: let’s get to it
[00:44:20] Cameron: then. What do you wanna talk about?
[00:44:22] Tony: Well, I think all of the, all of the things that, um. He, he spoke about that interests me, were after that. So he, he, he made a claim that Poland started World War II, which I thought was, was interesting about the invasion of Poland and, and how they invited Hitler to, to come into Poland. Um, you know, so again, not
[00:44:43] Cameron: no, not that
[00:44:44] Tony: historical subjective interpretation, but a quite a big one I thought.
[00:44:49] Cameron: he didn’t say they invited him to come into Poland.
[00:44:52] Tony: I think he did. I’ll try and find, I’ll try and find the, the, um, art, the article, if I can do it quickly.
[00:44:58] Cameron: What he said from memory was that he called
[00:45:03] Cameron: Poland a collaborator. he said they collaborated with the, Nazis. Some historians have taken issue with that, and I think that’s a, that’s a fair thing. Like collaboration is a big word, but. What is factually correct is that when Hitler was, um, when, when the Munich agreement was signed, which was going to give Germany some land, and Czechoslovakia, Poland jumped on board and took land from Czechoslovakia as well when they were weak.
[00:45:37] Cameron: They took advantage of Czechoslovakia’s, uh, weakness at the time to grab some territory. And then Hitler wanted some territory from Poland. The Danzig corridor. Poland refused to give it up, and so Hitler invaded, but they had been in, in Putin’s words, they collaborated. Now, you know, you could pick that apart.
[00:46:06] Cameron: Did they collaborate or did they just take advantage? Like the, the issue that I’ve read that historians have is that collaboration. Suggests, uh, joint strategic diplomatic agreement to attack a, a country in this instance. Um, did they have, were there diplomatic conversations between Nazi, Germany and Poland?
[00:46:30] Cameron: Yes. Is that collaboration the way it’s portrayed as well? Poland didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter because Nazi Germany was this more powerful, aggressive country on the border, and so they had to go along with it wasn’t really collaboration. And I’m like, Hmm. Yeah. Well, you know, you could say the same thing about the Munich agreement.
[00:46:56] Cameron: Um, you know, was Neville Chamberlain collaborating with Hitler when they agreed to the Munich agreement, or was he just feeling like I. They couldn’t, they didn’t want to have a war with Nazi Germany at the time. So appeasement was the better option. Is that collaboration? I think it maybe is
[00:47:18] Tony: Yeah, maybe so. So the, you’re right about, I, I shouldn’t have said that. Putin said Poland invited Hitler in the quote is in 1939. This is Putin speaking After Poland cooperated with Hitler, it did collaborate with Hitler, you know, Hitler offered Poland Peace and a Treaty of Friendship and Alliance. We have all the relevant documents in the archives demanding in return that Poland give back to Germany.
[00:47:39] Tony: The,
[00:47:40] Tony: so-called Danzig Corridor, which connected the bulk of Germany with East Prussia and Königsberg. Yeah, so the, the, the, the claim was collaboration.
[00:47:51] Cameron: collaboration and cooperation, and
[00:47:53] Cameron: again, like he’s not wrong. From a particular point of view, you can argue what is the definition
[00:48:00] Cameron: of collaboration and cooperation. But they did, you know, they did cooperate, they did take advantage of the situation. You can say, well, they didn’t have much option, but you know, neither did the, the Vichy government in France have much option, but we still criticized them as collaborators.
[00:48:22] Cameron: I mean, you can say no and get shot, but, or you can collaborate and try and make the best of a bad situation,
[00:48:29] Cameron: I guess. I dunno,
[00:48:31] Tony: Yeah, Well, I guess like,
[00:48:33] Tony: sorry. No, I’m not disagreeing with you. I guess the reason for raising that is to talk about, there seems to be the, the link between what happened in that part of Europe and World War II and what’s happening in Ukraine and neo-Nazis, and that that was a, a kind of a key point that, that Putin’s making.
[00:48:49] Tony: He was, he was saying that one of his reasons for invading Ukraine is a denazification, or that’s one of, one of his requirements for a truce is the Denazification of U of Ukraine. And I thought, I still think that’s very interesting. And, and again, I’m wondering whether he’s, he’s playing to his audience at home on that one because I read a couple of articles.
[00:49:10] Tony: NPR was this one. Uh, NPR was a good one. Um, about, about the issue in Ukraine, I won’t read it out, it’s quite long. But basically it says that, um, sure they’re in the N Nazis in Ukraine, about 2% of the population. There’s the people who fall in the, I think it’s called the ZOS Regimen. Um. Before the Ukraine war and during the Ukraine war.
[00:49:33] Tony: Uh, but they point out that 2% of the population who claim to be neo-Nazis is actually less than that. The situation in the US where there’s far more ultra-right, uh, members of the public than in Ukraine. So it’s a fairly normal thing in a lot of Western countries. It’s particularly in Europe to have, uh, sort of fringe neo-Nazi element.
[00:49:51] Tony: So why, why do you think
[00:49:53] Tony: Putin is making a big deal of Denazification, the denazification of
[00:49:59] Tony: Ukraine?
[00:50:01] Cameron: I think, I think this is, um, part of, you know, his, um, propaganda back to his home audience. Um, and I’ve always felt that this is the weakest of his arguments and his justifications. But what I also have seen happen in the last couple of years is how the Western media has absolutely tried to refute. This argument that there are neo-Nazis in Ukraine when before February, 2000 twenty-two, the Western media was regularly running stories about Nazis being a big problem in Ukraine.
[00:50:47] Cameron: And I’ve got an archive of documents about this. Here’s a quote from a rolling, recent Rolling Stone article about the interview. It says, Putin spoke at length about his wish to bring Denazification to Ukraine. And while the nation does have a dark history of association with Nazism and neo-Nazi factions, particularly in the context of World War II experts widely agree, this is a propaganda ploy used as a justification for the invasion.
[00:51:13] Cameron: Except, um, you know, there are lots of, uh, articles, as I said that seem to think that West had a problem with the Nazis in Ukraine before the invasion. Here’s a link to a Reuters article. From, um, the 7th of February, 2024, it said, oh, hold on. No, that’s on, uh, that’s on Nord Stream. Let me, um, get to the find.
[00:51:49] Cameron: Yes. Here we go. This is from the Guardian in 2014, Azov fighters are Ukraine’s greatest weapon and maybe its greatest threat. And this is around about the time of the beginning of the Donbass situation, the Guardian says, but there is an increasing worry that while the Azov and other volunteer battalions might be Ukraine’s most potent and reliable force on the battlefield against the separatists, they also pose the most serious threat to the Ukrainian government and perhaps even the state.
[00:52:17] Cameron: When the conflict in the east is over. The Azov causes particular concern due to the far right, even neo-Nazi leanings of many of its members. The battalion’s symbol is reminiscent of the Nazi wolf’s angel. Though the battalion claims, it is in fact meant to be the letters N and I crossed over each other standing for national idea.
[00:52:37] Cameron: Many of its members have links with neo-Nazi groups, and even those who laughed off the idea that they are neo-Nazis did not give the most convincing denials. Fighters from the battalion told the Guardian last month, they expected a new revolution in Ukraine that would bring a more decisive military leader to power in sentiments similar to those of many Azov fighters.
[00:52:58] Cameron: Despite the desire of many in the Azov to bring violence to Kiev when the war in the east is over. The battalion receives funding and assistance from the governor of the Donetsk region, the oligarch Serhii Taruta. In 2018, the US declared C-Fourteen or S-Fourteen, the CIS Group, uh, in Ukraine as a hate group.
[00:53:23] Cameron: And I’ve got a, an article from Radio Liberty, which is a. US, uh, propaganda Radio station in Europe. Set up part of the Marshall plan says Ivan Stupak, a former SBU employee, SBU being the secret service of the Ukraine with 10 years of experience, said at certain stages the SBU involved its operational contacts.
[00:53:49] Cameron: That is, they found certain common points of view with leaders of C-Fourteen, and directed them to solve certain operational tasks. Um, and it goes on to talk about all the connections between government funding and Secret service and the far-right movement, et cetera, et cetera. So there’s plenty of stories like that.
[00:54:09] Cameron: Uh, but from before twenty-Twenty-two Western governments and the Western media definitely did see these Nazi groups in Ukraine as a significant issue. But post the twenty-two invasion, oh, it’s all just propaganda that Putin. Is spinning. Now, I do think, as I said, it’s his, probably his weakest argument. I think his strongest justification is for is the Nazi, the NATO, uh, enlargement.
[00:54:37] Cameron: But,
[00:54:39] Cameron: you know, I do think he is being genuine when he says part of the conditions that they have is the elimination of neo-Nazis off the border between Ukraine and Russia. I mean, I, I, you know, it’s important for us outside of Russia to remember that the Nazis killed 20 million Russians in World War II
[00:55:04] Cameron: and you know, part of.
[00:55:07] Cameron: The breakup of Germany after World War II was to ensure that the Russians were never bothered by the Germans, the fascists. Again, fascists obviously having a big hatred at the time for communists and Jews, uh, and particularly Jewish communists, um, Ukraine. It’s more Catholic fascists that have been the problem.
[00:55:28] Cameron: But, you know, he, it is a, I think it’s a genuine concern and I think it’s a, a genuine issue, whether or not it’s as big a deal as he makes it out to be,
[00:55:38] Cameron: you know,
[00:55:39] Tony: Well, well actually, I mean, I highlight it because I think, I think you’re right. I think it was a big deal and I think that there was certainly Russian. Speakers in Donbass who were chased out back into Russia by, by, uh, some element of that military slash neo-Nazi, um, power in the Donbass reasons. So I think it is actually an, an issue.
[00:56:03] Tony: Um, but, but as you say, that’s one of the things about the war that gets, gets clouded. It’s, uh, the West has gone from a, from acknowledging the existence of these people to saying it’s propaganda by Putin. But I actually think it’s a key issue for them, not just because of the history of fighting against the Nazis and, and all of that, but because in the Donbass region that’s kind of borderland.
[00:56:25] Tony: There is a, I can’t, I can’t speak to it being a, a neo-Nazi mentality, I’ll call it the pro-Ukrainian mentality. And there’s a Russian affiliated population, and the two haven’t mixed very well, and I think Putin probably is legitimate in asking for claims. Whether it should be called Denazification or not
[00:56:43] Tony: is another issue.
[00:56:45] Cameron: The ABC had an article that I read, Tucker Carlson Vladimir Putin interview explained. It said. Russia’s aim to denazify, Eastern Ukraine, a claim that has been described as propaganda by hundreds of historians who study genocide. I read that and I thought, what if historians who, what do historians who have studied genocide have to do with his claims about Nazis in Ukraine?
[00:57:11] Cameron: It seems like a non-secretary, but, but I read, um, this article again, this is, um, from Radio Freedom. Facebook bans Ukrainian, far-right Group Over Hate speech, but getting rid of it isn’t easy. And it said Human rights groups such as Free. This is from 2019. Human rights groups such as Freedom House of Warned that Azov’s increasing visibility and impunity is a cause for concern.
[00:57:37] Cameron: Far-right? Political forces present a real threat. To the democratic development of Ukrainian society set a recent Freedom House report referring to Azov and similar groups. That threat is not due to political support. Polls show its political party. National Core is supported by less than 1% of Ukrainians.
[00:57:54] Cameron: But because the far right is aggressively trying to impose the regender on Ukrainian society, including by using force against those who oppose political and cultural views. Last month, group of seven ambassadors in Kiev sent a letter to Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov urging him to act against the groups, which it said threatened to disrupt the country’s election and usurp the role of the Ukrainian National Police.
[00:58:20] Cameron: The ambassadors asked the ministers to also consider outlawing the groups down the road. Would you be so kind as to outlaw Nazi groups? That’d be great. Thanks. So in twenty-nineteen, the G-Seven was writing a letter to the Ukrainian government. Say, you’ve gotta denazify your country. Now Putin says it and everyone’s like,
[00:58:41] Cameron: ah, what’s he talking about?
[00:58:42] Cameron: It’s all
[00:58:43] Tony: Yeah. And look, and not just that, but like this NPR article. Uh, talks about, it’s a harmful distortion and dilution of history. They say, talking about the, um, Holocaust experts, even though many people appear not to be buying at this time round. Laura Jakusch, a professor of Holocaust studies at Brandeis University in Massachusetts told NPR over email that Putin’s claims about the Ukrainian army allegedly perpetrating a genocide against Russians in the Donbass region are completely unfounded, but politically useful to him.
[00:59:14] Cameron: See, like,
[00:59:15] Cameron: so
[00:59:15] Tony: Were they there? That’s the first thing. But the other thing too is these articles always end with the point
[00:59:20] Tony: being made. Anzalensky is a Jew.
[00:59:23] Cameron: yeah.
[00:59:24] Tony: As if, as if that kind
[00:59:25] Tony: of, you can just go, okay, well, we’ll just wipe our hands of a
[00:59:27] Tony: Nazi problem in Ukraine then.
[00:59:29] Cameron: Which Putin himself said in the interview, and he said, and Zelensky’s father or grandfather fought the Nazis. He goes, why? I said to this is Putin saying it. He said, I said to Zelensky, why aren’t you getting rid of these guys like your own father or grandfather who was fought against these guys? Seems strange to me that you’re allowing them in your country, but what am I gonna do?
[00:59:51] Cameron: Kind of thing. Um, but like, I dunno, man, like it just drives me nuts that Cameron Reilly with a couple of hours on his hands can look up the history of neo-Nazis in Ukraine and there’s all this stuff. And yet the mainstream media seems to think they can just run this stuff. And like, there’s just no sense of, oh, maybe we should
[01:00:16] Cameron: just tell the truth about this. And, you
[01:00:18] Tony: and there’s, no fact-checking, right? Like you would think NPR, which is the National public radio in the US, would have a more independent stance on things, but. Putin says that he needs to denazify Ukraine. They go straight to an academic who disagrees with that, and they publish the academic side.
[01:00:33] Tony: Now, whether this is meant to be balanced journalism, I’ve got Putin’s argument on one hand, and there’s academics on the other. I’m not sure, but it doesn’t, I found it very hard to get to the facts on this, you know, what is happening in the Donbass region? How many, how many Russian speakers had fled across the border back into Russia?
[01:00:50] Tony: Was that a legitimate reason for Putin invading and what’s happening now? Why is there a Jewish president in in Ukraine, but he’s allowing the neo-Nazi Azov’s brigade to take a lead part in the war? They’re really interesting questions. I don’t have an opinion either way, but I’m not getting at the facts through the media.
[01:01:09] Cameron: Well, you know that before Zelensky was the president of Ukraine, he played the president of Ukraine on television. Which reminds me of,
[01:01:17] Cameron: I don’t know, just Ronald,
[01:01:19] Tony: Ronald, Reagan Yeah.
[01:01:21] Cameron: even to a certain extent.
[01:01:23] Tony: Yeah.
[01:01:23] Cameron: also, look, we’ve, we’ve talked about this a lot on this show, Tony, but there, um, are you aware of the Victoria Newland
[01:01:30] Cameron: phone
[01:01:31] Cameron: call from 2014?
[01:01:32] Cameron: You’ve
[01:01:33] Tony: I’ve heard it on your show before.
[01:01:34] Tony: Yeah.
[01:01:34] Cameron: Right. So there seems to be, uh, that as evidence that, uh, among other things like her talking in other interviews about
[01:01:44] Cameron: how much money they spent on democracy in Ukraine before the Maidan protests it, it just fits the, the template, the CIA’s template that they’ve been following since they overthrew Mossadegh in the early fifties in Iran for going into a country, uh, behind the scenes funding.
[01:02:09] Cameron: Protest movements, activists, uh, political troublemakers saying, listen, do this. We’ll, we’ll have your back, you know, we’ll, we’ll give you air cover, et cetera, et cetera, and if you win, we will support, you know, you and your chosen, or we’ll tell you who to put in power, but we’ll give you air cover. It just fits the model.
[01:02:29] Cameron: And then when that call was leaked, it just seems to be pretty strong evidence that that’s what was
[01:02:35] Cameron: going on behind the
[01:02:36] Tony: Yeah, well, I’m gonna draw a longer bow, right? That, that the, if the CIA was gonna fund anybody, it’s more likely to be on the right than on the left. And if, if the, if the military industrial complex in the States is funneling money towards fighting in the Ukraine, and the league group is the ASOS group and they have links to neo-Nazis, and you could also draw the line that America’s happily funding them.
[01:03:01] Tony: So
[01:03:03] Tony: we’re not finding out what’s going on
[01:03:05] Tony: here, unfortunately.
[01:03:06] Cameron: Well, the US tends to. Support whoever’s going to best serve their interests, which makes sense, whether they’re on the left or the right, but usually it’s on the right, as you say. Um, there’s the famous, uh, uh, what was her name? Jeannie. Something begins with Letter F doctrine. Can’t remember her name. Fitz Gibbons or something like that.
[01:03:36] Cameron: Fitzsimmons. She was a strategic advisor, uh, in the Reagan years and basically her doctrine was, yeah, it’s easier for us to do business with guys who are on the right than guys on the left. Right. You
[01:03:52] Tony: Yeah.
[01:03:52] Cameron: So they’re usually gonna be the ones we’ll do business with. The other issue that all these articles take is about the outbreak of the conflict in Donbass in 2014, uh, which they usually try and, um, lay at the feet of Putin, make it sound like Putin invaded.
[01:04:13] Cameron: But I always point to a Rand Corporation, uh, um, article investigation report on this Rand Corporation being obviously a, an American, um, think tank when they did their report on it, uh, 10 years ago. They said the conflict started as a local affair, but was quickly supported by Russia. Set a coterie of, well-known local political agitators, businessmen and members of fringe political organisations with a Russian imperialist bent led the effort.
[01:04:48] Cameron: Moscow sought to foster this movement in Ukraine through oligarchic connections and intertwined circles of powerful regional business interests. Combined with local criminal elements. The tactics appeared to be improvised, employing a diversity of individuals with little in common, other than their opposition to Ukraine’s new government.
[01:05:06] Cameron: Russia fostered the subversion with a supporting cast of intelligence operatives, its own citizens and informal network of fighters from the post-Soviet space and local security forces who turned against Ukraine’s government. So if the Americans were running their own. Secret operations to install a pro-American government in Ukraine Russia had their own forces in there to maintain a pro-Russian government.
[01:05:33] Cameron: Uh, and the two were fighting behind the scenes. But you know, what ended up happening is the Donbass breakout was genuinely, according to Rand, a civil war. It was a local affair with both sides, you know, having secret support from other major powers. Um, but it was at Moscow marching an army in Now what the distinction is between the two, you know, there’s another
[01:06:03] Cameron: story
[01:06:05] Tony: Yeah.
[01:06:05] Tony: But, uh, that’s, and that’s a good point too. We, we’ve,
[01:06:08] Tony: you know, we might sound, I might sound critical of the US on all this, but it happens on
[01:06:12] Tony: both sides. We’re just calling it out ’cause it’s not reported.
[01:06:15] Cameron: Yeah. I mean, we, anyone who’s spent any time studying Cold War history, uh, knows that this is the way the Cold War has been played out. You know, it’s, uh, uh, uh, it’s a, it’s a soft power. It’s hybrid warfare. You’re trying to influence the, the, the media and the government and the businesses and the politicians in a country using bribery and influence and, uh, promises and all that kind of stuff, and, and all of the major powers, if they can afford to do it, do it.
[01:06:48] Cameron: I, I tend to subscribe to John Mearsheimer’s geopolitical realism camp that says that major powers in any region, um, know that if they’re not the strongest power in the region, then they’ll, they’re gonna get attacked. They’re gonna be, you know, attacked by other stronger powers. It gets back to the dark forest hypothesis kind of right, that if.
[01:07:15] Cameron: If you are a power in a region and you think there’s another power coming up that may be stronger than you, you kind of have an incentive to get in and hobble them or weaken them or take them over. Because if they become more powerful than you in the future, then you are the victim.
[01:07:30] Tony: Mm-Hmm.
[01:07:30] Cameron: It’s just political
[01:07:32] Tony: And we’re seeing it play out with Australia and the Pacific. Islands at the moment too, as Russia tries to ramp up if its influence and Australia has to counter. So it happens in every, uh, China, I’m
[01:07:42] Tony: sorry, China, uh, it happens in every sphere of influence. I agree. But we just don’t read about
[01:07:47] Tony: it overtly.
[01:07:50] Tony: We try and put the, try and connect the dots, but we don’t read about it overtly.
[01:07:53] Cameron: it
[01:07:53] Cameron: doesn’t get talked about in, you know, mainstream media outlets, like, okay, Mearsheimer does. But as Mearsheimer says, like increasingly he and his colleagues, uh, who push realism just a shut out of the media. I, I heard him being interviewed. I think it was on Lex Friedman’s podcast a while back, and he was saying like, even in the early two thousands when he and, um, his colleague whose name escapes me, wrote a book on the Is,
[01:08:27] Cameron: Hmm,
[01:08:27] Tony: Was it Green Wall?
[01:08:29] Cameron: no, no, no.
[01:08:31] Cameron: Um, he’s passed away, but he was a leading scholar, uh, Stephen Walt when he and Stephen Walt wrote a book called The Israel Lobby, which I read 20 odd years ago, talking about the, the influence that the Israel lobby has in US politics. Uh, he said even though they got attacked right across the board, at least they were given airtime.
[01:08:55] Cameron: You know, they were able, they were being interviewed in the New York Times and they were on television and that kinda stuff. He said, now no one will even. Talk to us, uh, about, you know, what’s going on in Russia and Ukraine. It’s like he said, it’s far more of a closed down media ecosystem today than it was 20, 30 years ago
[01:09:18] Cameron: in the United States,
[01:09:20] Tony: That’s interesting, isn’t it? I mean, that’s, that speaks
[01:09:23] Tony: and that speaks volumes though, doesn’t it?
[01:09:25] Tony: If, if the, if a media outlet’s applying council culture, rather than saying, come and debate this
[01:09:29] Tony: with the Israel lobby, uh, it’s not really journalism, is it?
[01:09:33] Cameron: Um, no, it’s, it’s, well, you know, I mean, I, however you wanna define journalism. Um, I’ve got some other
[01:09:42] Tony: Yeah.
[01:09:43] Cameron: here I wanna run through. So, um, this is, uh, from the BBC for fans who managed to stay tuned any longer. The reward was a rerun of Putin’s top twisted arguments. some neutral journalism for you. Um, he, they go on to say he aired his regular grievance about NATO expanding east into what Russia sees as its area of influence. We never agreed Ukraine could join NATO, as Putin put it, but it’s having an aggressive, unpredictable neighbor like Russia that’s led Ukraine to seek extra security.
[01:10:22] Cameron: Not true. Uh, we know the history of this. We know that all of the polls in Ukraine. Said, uh, you know, going back 20, uh, 10, 20 years ago showed that that people had no interest in joining NATO. But then the coup happened and there was, uh, a lot of investment by NATO in, uh, Ukraine to build up, like promotion for NATO.
[01:10:53] Cameron: A lot of funding in there. And of course, then they ended up with a pro-American government after the 2014 quote, coup if it in fact was a coup, which, and they’ve been pushed into joining NATO by various forces. But before that, Ukrainians had no interest in joining NATO, nato, uh, it’s, they say Putin has always characterized the mass public protests in Kiev a decade ago as part of a western backed coup, which they were not, says the BBC, according to whom, based on what evidence.
[01:11:24] Cameron: Mentioned Victoria Newland’s phone call. No, just, and this is BBC man.
[01:11:30] Cameron: Like, um,
[01:11:32] Tony: It’s journalism. It’s really, it’s really editorial, isn’t it? It’s not journalism at all.
[01:11:36] Cameron: yeah, It’s all editorial these days. Um, New York Times Tucker Carlson’s lesson in the perils of giving airtime to
[01:11:43] Cameron: an autocrat. Mr. Putin conducted a history lecture that provided a one-sided, often false narrative about Ukraine says The New York Times one-sided. Yes. False. Probably not. Hillary Clinton in an interview this week with Alex Wagner of MSNBC called, uh, Carlson a useful Idiot, and Mr.
[01:12:04] Cameron: Putin’s puppy dog Mr. Carlson gave Mr. Putin room for uninterrupted disquisitions. That’s a new word for me.
[01:12:13] Cameron: What’s a disquisition? Tony? You ever use that
[01:12:15] Cameron: in a
[01:12:16] Tony: no idea. No.
[01:12:17] Cameron: On longstanding and decidedly one-sided grievances about Ukraine’s origins and independence movements, said un uninterrupted. He actually did interrupt him a number of times, Carlson, in that first half hour rant.
[01:12:32] Cameron: He kept trying to interrupt him, and Putin was just like, just, just hold on. Let me, let me finish my story. And he would
[01:12:38] Tony: seconds more, 30 seconds more.
[01:12:40] Cameron: he was saying he was uninterrupted, but it’s not. He, Carlson tried to, I interrupt him on a number. Carlson looked very confused and very troubled from the beginning of the
[01:12:48] Cameron: whole thing.
[01:12:49] Cameron: Like, where’s
[01:12:49] Cameron: this going?
[01:12:50] Tony: I’d be inclined to agree with someone who said that Carlson Softballed Putin.
[01:12:54] Cameron: Softballed him, sure, but
[01:12:55] Tony: tried, tried to interrupt a
[01:12:56] Tony: couple of times, but but once every 10 minutes isn’t really, you know,
[01:13:00] Cameron: but what are you
[01:13:01] Cameron: gonna do? I mean, how are you gonna say, look, just shut the fuck up Mr. Putin,
[01:13:06] Cameron: and, and answer my questions. I mean, you’re not gonna get anywhere with that, I don’t think Putin’s gonna
[01:13:12] Cameron: let you run things. Although the
[01:13:14] Tony: I, I must imagine,
[01:13:15] Tony: sorry. I, imagine, that the, one of the conditions for the interview was that it couldn’t be edited too otherwise, you know, uh, Carlson may
[01:13:23] Tony: have decided just to let it run and then cut it down for use, but he didn’t do that. So I’m guessing that was a condition.
[01:13:29] Cameron: Probably. And, um, I was gonna say that, you know, uh, since the interview, Putin has come out in Russian Media and said that he, he found the interview disappointing and almost
[01:13:40] Tony: Yeah,
[01:13:42] Cameron: Carlson’s taking a victory lap. And Putin’s, like, I actually expected him to ask some hard questions. Like, uh, I, I was prepared for an aggressive
[01:13:51] Cameron: interview and it was really not.
[01:13:52] Cameron: So, so
[01:13:54] Cameron: that’s,
[01:13:55] Tony: yeah. No, exactly.
[01:13:57] Cameron: Putin’s, even Putin’s not giving him, uh,
[01:14:00] Cameron: any, any props for it.
[01:14:02] Tony: And Putin said a lot of interesting things. I mean, the whole, there was a discussion, well, there was a, the
[01:14:06] Tony: point about Boris Johnson intervening in the, in the Peace
[01:14:10] Tony: talks, I Ukraine we’re having with Russia. I mean that, that, that could have been a whole topic of interviewing itself, but it just sort of
[01:14:16] Tony: sailed through.
[01:14:18] Cameron: Yeah, and we’ve, we’ve talked about that on this show. We, we know that that’s true. Um, we know that they were, you know, Zelensky and, and Putin, uh, all their representatives were on the verge of signing an agreement early in 2022. Then Boris Johnson, when he was still Prime Minister, made a three day trip to Kiev, and then the deal was off.
[01:14:40] Cameron: And basically, Boris Johnson in his own words, said that he told Zelensky not to surrender, that he had the full support of the West. Now, what else he said, uh, about what would happen to Zelensky if he did surrender? Um, we don’t know, but it’s, it’s quite obvious that the war would’ve been over. Within a couple of months if the US and the UK hadn’t decided to prolong it forever.
[01:15:08] Cameron: Which reminds me a lot of the Afghanistan situation in the late seventies, which I’ve done shows about, it was deliberately extended for 10 years by the United States in the words of Zbigniew, Brzezinski, Jimmy, Carter’s, national Security Advisor, uh, at the time. He later said that he went into Carter and said, if we play this right, we can give the Soviet Union its own Vietnam.
[01:15:39] Cameron: And then he was quite proud of the fact that they did that later in life, um, that they managed to economically bogged down and cripple the Soviet Union by supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. And this, to me just looks like the same thing. They’re using the Ukrainians as. Uh, fodder now to try and further weaken
[01:16:01] Cameron: Russia economically New York
[01:16:04] Tony: Potentially it’s, it’s backfiring though in the us. I mean, they’re, they’re the one who’s bogged down in Congress with contention over paying so much for the war in, in Ukraine.
[01:16:13] Cameron: Yeah, but the guys in the US that got the
[01:16:15] Cameron: money, it all played out
[01:16:18] Cameron: perfectly, right? I mean, the way I’ve always pictured it’s a win-win
[01:16:21] Cameron: situation for American businesses with this if they win and they managed to keep control of Ukraine. Then they get access to its markets, they get access to. Its, its natural resources.
[01:16:34] Cameron: They, they get, you know, bases again, more bases on the border of Russia to further weaken Russia. I mean, what’s up for grabs is all of the energy supply into
[01:16:44] Tony: grain.
[01:16:45] Cameron: you know, and grain. Yeah. Right. All of that, all of the economic supply that Russia has a big chunk of, if you’re an American business person with interests in Europe and in the Middle East, et cetera, et cetera, you want to get access to those markets.
[01:16:59] Cameron: If they, so if they win the war, they get that, or get to keep that or get more of that. If they lose the war, well, you know, we still got a hundred billion dollars of, uh, American taxpayers money over a few years, like happy days.
[01:17:14] Cameron: Right. It’s a
[01:17:15] Tony: Yeah. So there’s no incentive to do the, to do a negotiation. Is there a peace negotiation?
[01:17:21] Cameron: Not if you are an American businessman or an American politician. Yeah, if you’re a Ukrainian soldier, maybe, or a
[01:17:27] Cameron: Russian soldier. Um, another interesting thing in the New York Times, as Putin threatens despair and hedging in Europe,
[01:17:35] Cameron: it actually admits that Putin was complaining about NATO expansion back in 2007.
[01:17:40] Cameron: It talks about this conference that just happened at the Hotel Bayeriska Hof. It says in the Hotel Bayeriska Hof, the conference stage where Mr. Putin warned in 2007 that NATO’s eastern expansion was a threat to Russia Mr. Navalny’s widow made an emotional appearance on Friday hours after a husband’s death reminding attendees that Mr.
[01:18:03] Cameron: Putin would bear responsibility for it. Um, leaving aside the Navalny stuff, uh, it’s a rare admission in the Western media that the NATO expansion issue. Didn’t just start getting invented by Putin in February, 2022. You know, that normally in Western media just gets rejected out hand as being nonsense.
[01:18:30] Cameron: Got nothing to do with NATO, despite the fact that Putin and before him, um, you know, going back to Gorbachev and then, um, who was the guy after Gorbachev? I’ve got a mental blank. Uh, Yeltsin, Yeltsin all took issue with the NATO expansion when it started happening in ninety-six under Clinton. I. You know, they’ve been beating on about it for nearly 30 years.
[01:18:59] Cameron: Stop the NATO expansion. Stop the NATO expansion. Stop the NATO expansion. Finally, they invade and they say, why are NATO expansion? What? That’s dev. Well, that’s got nothing to do with it. Never heard that before. Like seriously. And again, the way the media just writes it off as that, it’s just nonsense. It’s got nothing to do with NATO expansion.
[01:19:16] Cameron: Like it boggles the mind.
[01:19:18] Tony: Yeah.
[01:19:19] Cameron: CBC, Canadian broadcasters barely mentions Putin’s actual talking points. Only after 30 paragraphs of Criticising Carlson did they get to anything that Putin had to say.
[01:19:33] Cameron: Putin, in the Russian interview where he said that the interview was disappointing also said he’d rather have Biden continue as US president because he’s predictable. Can you imagine if he’d said the opposite, how the Democrats would be losing their damn minds at the moment if he said, oh, I’d rather have Trump as president.
[01:19:49] Cameron: See? See? Trump’s a Russian puppet. He said, Biden, and this is like
[01:19:56] Cameron: crickets.
[01:19:57] Tony: Yeah. Biden’s, other Putin puppet. Yeah. No, I, I did see that one too. The other interesting thing I thought, um, that was, let’s slide by Carlson again, was when Putin told his story about,
[01:20:08] Tony: uh, going to Clinton and saying, uh, Hey, that Russia joined NATO? Were you, and Clinton said, yeah, okay. And then came back that night and said, no,
[01:20:16] Tony: sorry.
[01:20:16] Tony: Can’t do it.
[01:20:17] Cameron: My advisors told me I can’t do that. Yeah. Yeah. That’s well, uh, documented as well that Russia tried to join NATO. I. Just got shut out. Um, you know, and this goes right back to, um, Gorbachev, plenty of interviews on record about this when they were doing the whole collapsing of the Soviet Union and, uh, you know, the, the promise about No NATO and he agreed to the reunification of Germany.
[01:20:48] Cameron: He was putting forward propositions that they form a new security, global security alliance that they could all be part of and, you know, was given nods and winks. Oh, sure, sure, sure. We can do that. And then just shut out. It just, you know, once the Americans felt that they’d won the Cold War, they weren’t giving up any play in anything.
[01:21:08] Cameron: Politico called it a two-hour love-in, they mentioned the Russian President’s fanciful history lesson. On the Nord Stream stuff, they said several countries have been publicly blamed for the explosions with varying degrees of evidence. Ukraine has said Russia was responsible, which the Kremlin has denied.
[01:21:27] Cameron: While Moscow has previously blamed the UK without presenting any evidence to support that assertion, either, they don’t mention at all the, uh, us, uh, being involved. Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist at his sources said it was the CIA. They don’t mention that. They don’t mention that the US blamed Ukraine for it either.
[01:21:49] Cameron: Um, just not worth mentioning apparently. Um, there’s, um, I mentioned that, that there’s a Reuters article for the 7th of February. Uh, the Rolling Stone said, um, something about. Uh, we’re talking about the Nord Stream, the Rolling Stone Magazine article said Investigations have yet to determine who was behind the sabotage.
[01:22:14] Cameron: And then they link to a Reuters article from the 7th of February. It says, the White House last year dismissed a blog post by a US investigative journalist alleging Washington was behind explosions as utterly false and complete fiction. I was like, they fucking wrote off Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer, Prize winning investigative journalist who broke the My Lai story massacre in Vietnam, who broke the Abu Ghraib torture story 20 years ago as a blog post by a US investigative journalist.
[01:22:49] Cameron: Like it makes it sound like it’s some hack conspiracy, like it’s me sitting in my bedroom writing about it. You know, fucking Seymour Hersh. They just write off
[01:23:00] Cameron: like, seriously, this
[01:23:02] Tony: they can ’cause none of the, none of the, none of the outlets in the
[01:23:04] Tony: America, America picked that up. You’d think the first thing that the head of the Washington Post would do is say, oh, who’s journalists? Let’s, let’s go and talk to them. Let’s see what their sources are. Let’s, let’s, you know, try and replicate the work that they did.
[01:23:16] Cameron: all the New York Times where he won a Pulitzer Prize,
[01:23:19] Tony: yeah. Oh no. We’ll just take the press release
[01:23:22] Tony: from Washington and read. I
[01:23:23] Tony: print that.
[01:23:24] Cameron: like I’ve, You know, I read Seymour Hurst’s blog, um, and he’s, you know, been saying for, uh, whatever it’s been now, six months since he wrote that story. You can tell by the lack of coverage that my story is getting.
[01:23:38] Tony: is accurate.
[01:23:39] Cameron: How close to the bone it is, right? Yeah. If it was wrong and they knew it was wrong, they would come out and say that the fact that they are, you know, tackling what’s actually being said in it, um, stands for itself.
[01:23:53] Cameron: They go on, sorry. In the Reuters article to say, the US and German Media have reported that the yacht could have been used by Ukrainian or pro-Ukrainian groups citing leaked intelligence reports and people familiar with official investigations. Kiev has repeatedly denied any involvement. The Washington Post citing leaked information posted online wrote last June that the United States learned of a Ukrainian plan to attack the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline three months before they were damaged.
[01:24:21] Cameron: So of course what happened is when Seymour Hearst came out with his story, the uh, Washington Post slash US government came out with their own
[01:24:30] Cameron: story. Oh, well we heard
[01:24:33] Cameron: that it was probably
[01:24:34] Tony: Our sources say,
[01:24:35] Cameron: did it. Uh.
[01:24:38] Cameron: You know, and it just goes on like, um, the, the amount of
[01:24:44] Cameron: obfuscation. The other thing that I wanted to point out that Putin talked about a lot that didn’t get any coverage in any of the articles that I saw was the role that the failure of the Minsk agreements
[01:24:55] Cameron: played.
[01:24:56] Tony: Yeah, I, I was gonna highlight that?
[01:24:58] Tony: too.
[01:24:58] Cameron: What,
[01:24:58] Cameron: what did you have on that?
[01:25:00] Tony: No, no. Go ahead. I, I’ve gotta find my notes.
[01:25:03] Cameron: Well, for people who, uh, first time listeners, um,
[01:25:08] Cameron: uh, uh, when the whole thing broke out in the Donbass region in 2014, there were
[01:25:12] Cameron: a number of attempts to try and bring about a peace settlement there. They were called the Minsk agreements because the meetings happens in, in Minsk and Belarus. Um, and it looked like they had a, a template for.
[01:25:28] Cameron: Some sort of a settlement in the Donbass region. And again, it just failed. And aspersions were cast around as to who failed and why they failed and who was to blame for not upholding their end of the agreement. A bit like the whole, you know, Palestine Israel thing that’s been going on forever, each side blames the other.
[01:25:47] Cameron: But, um, Putin puts the blame on the failure of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine in the West for not upholding their end of it. And there is, there’s a fa uh, um, a fascinating interview with Angela Merkel, who was one of the sponsors of the agreement when she was the Chancellor of Germany. She was interviewed by a German magazine, desight recently, where she said that the Minsk agreements had been an attempt to give Ukraine time to defend itself. She said, um. Putin said, it turns out that no one was gonna fulfill all these Minsk agreements, and the point was only to pump up Ukraine with weapons and prepare it for hostilities. So then I got this from, um, Reuters. Uh, I think according to former German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the Minsk agreement served to buy time to Rearm Ukraine.
[01:26:48] Cameron: I’ve got the actual interview here from Dezeit. It says this is quoting Merkel, but that requires us to also say what exactly the alternatives were at the time. I thought the initiation of NATO accession. By Ukraine and Georgia, which was discussed in 2008, was wrong. The countries neither had the necessary prerequisites for this, nor had the consequences of such a decision been fully thought through, both with regard to Russia’s actions against Georgia and Ukraine and to NATO and its assistance rules.
[01:27:21] Cameron: And the 2014 Minsk agreement was an attempt to give Ukraine time. The aim was to gain time through a ceasefire in order to later achieve peace between Russia and Ukraine. She also used this time to become stronger. As you can see today, the Ukraine of 2014 15 is not the Ukraine of today. As we saw in the battle for the Bolshev railway town in Donbass at the beginning of 2015, Putin could have easily overrun them back then, and I very much doubt that the NATO countries could have done as much back then as they do now to help Ukraine. So, um, yeah, basically she seems to be confirming Putin’s assertion that the Minsk agreements were really just, uh, an attempt by the West to buy time to, you know, rearm Ukraine and build them up so they could basically, uh, not sign a peace agreement with
[01:28:25] Cameron: Russia,
[01:28:27] Tony: And also I think, um, as Putin alluded to, the Minsk agreement never really held, there was always
[01:28:31] Tony: ongoing breakouts of fighting over that time as well. And, and you know, basically he was saying he couldn’t trust the signatories to the Minsk agreement.
[01:28:41] Cameron: particularly when, you know, one of the key sponsors of it comes out and says, we, we were just using it to buy time in the
[01:28:47] Cameron: first place. It
[01:28:47] Cameron: wasn’t, wasn’t serious.
[01:28:49] Tony: Yeah. And it wasn’t just Merkel, it was the, um, other German, uh, leader before her, I think, I’m just trying to find his name. Uh, Steinem Steinman. Anyway, one of the, one of the, uh, key negotiators and of, of that time might not have been a, sorry, she, he might not have been, uh, Merkel’s equivalent, but certainly someone
[01:29:08] Tony: higher up in Germany also came out and said it wasn’t working.
[01:29:12] Cameron: Yeah.
[01:29:13] Tony: Just trying to find his name now.
[01:29:15] Cameron: And
[01:29:16] Tony: yeah, sorry.
[01:29:17] Cameron: well, and the thing is, I guess my point was gonna be I, This doesn’t get talked about in the Western media. You know, the fact that the Minsk agreements were just a furphy. Secondly, um, again, Putin’s, no dummy. Whatever you think of Putin, if he’s the embodiment of all that is evil or not, he’s no dummy.
[01:29:40] Cameron: And if, and, and if he knows that the peace agreements or the, the, the attempts in good faith to negotiate a settlement in the Donbass region would just deploy, used by the Wests to buy time to so they could, um, and fund and, you know, start building bases and putting weapons on the border of Russia. What do you do?
[01:30:04] Cameron: This is a question I’ve always asked about this. If, if you are Putin, what do you do? What are your options? If you’ve spent 30 years trying to reach a diplomatic negotiation about NATO expansion, that has just been ignored. And, and, and again, this didn’t come up. I’m surprised it didn’t come up. Carlson asked him when the last time he spoke to Biden was, and Putin just sort of like, I, I don’t know.
[01:30:25] Cameron: I don’t remember. I can’t remember everything. I know it was just, it was January, 2022. They discussed, well, Putin tried to discuss. Ukraine joining NATO and Biden told him. It wasn’t open to discussion, it was off the
[01:30:42] Cameron: table.
[01:30:44] Tony: I mean, I know you’ve done a, a long history podcast on Napoleon, but it’s very Napoleonic. This Putin’s saying, I have tried to defend my border, to defend my country, to keep my people safe, but you keep attacking. I’ve signed Minsk one and Minsk II, and for 10 years we’ve had clashes on the border. Still after I withdrew, what more do I have to do?
[01:31:07] Tony: How, how, how can you say I’m the aggressor if I then, you know, cross the border with my tanks trying to
[01:31:14] Tony: protect my border.
[01:31:15] Cameron: That’s the thing that infuriates me with David Markham. I mean, if you talk about why Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, David will give you all the arguments where he tried. He tried diplomatic measures to avoid war. But he realized, ’cause he was no dummy, what was going on. They were building up forces on his border and war was coming.
[01:31:38] Cameron: So rather than the war happened on his territory, he took it to their territory. And it’s, uh, you know, you you would say that that’s a, a just action. I mean, war is bad, but when you, when your enemy is building up forces on their border and you believe that they have
[01:31:54] Cameron: malicious intent,
[01:31:56] Tony: And you’ve had 10 years of a history of a broken treaty when you’ve tried to resolve it peacefully.
[01:32:01] Cameron: and 30 years in this case of them saying, don’t put NATO, you promised you wouldn’t gonna put NATO bases on our
[01:32:07] Cameron: border. And they’re like, shut the fuck up. We’ll do whatever we want. What do you do? That’s always been my question. Do you just like politically, if he just sits there and lets it happen, he’s
[01:32:19] Cameron: not gonna survive.
[01:32:21] Tony: mm-Hmm,
[01:32:21] Cameron: Let alone, you know, for the, the EE economic and military security of the Russian people, he needs to act. I am not justifying. His invasion. I’m just saying that from his perspective, I felt like he, he really had no option. It was
[01:32:39] Tony: hmm,
[01:32:40] Cameron: We’ve tried everything else. That’s failed. Yeah. A a as Von Klausowitz said, to paraphrase, war is the extension of diplomacy by other means, right?
[01:32:51] Cameron: When diplomacy
[01:33:03] Tony: with the issue of Gershkovich when Carlson thought he’d be able to take a trophy home from Russia and have an American, uh, released and Putin was all over it straight away with all the facts.
[01:33:16] Tony: You know, we are working on this, there’s discussions going on. Uh, there might be a prisoner exchange. We have a mine. This guy, you know, who uh, who was captured by the Americans after he assassinated. Uh, uh, what was the, um,
[01:33:30] Tony: oh, I’ve forgotten the name of the place now that, anyway,
[01:33:33] Cameron: Che, wasn’t it a
[01:33:34] Tony: Chechen. Thank you. The Chechen.
[01:33:35] Tony: The Chechen Rebel. Yeah. But, but that was, to me, that was Putin
[01:33:38] Tony: just completely and just had all the facts at his fingertips. Wasn’t gonna be gotcha’d,
[01:33:44] Cameron: hmm.
[01:33:45] Tony: just laid it all out off the cuff. Brilliant.
[01:33:47] Cameron: And the thing that always gets me about, uh, I don’t know if you, did you ever watch the Oliver Stone interviews with Putin
[01:33:52] Tony: No, I haven’t.
[01:33:53] Cameron: going back a few years, but it was like four hours of interviews. Um, late 2000 and like 17, 18, something like that.
[01:34:02] Cameron: The thing that always gets me, and this is what Oliver Stone said, ’cause Oliver Stone, you know, he did the same thing with Castro. He did the same thing with Chavez in Venezuela. He, like he said, those guys are big personalities and grand pronouncements and obviously also both very intelligent, very successful leaders of their country, depending on how you wanna measure success, I guess.
[01:34:25] Cameron: And Putin is the complete opposite to those guys. The thing that always fascinates me about these Putin interviews is he’s very quietly spoken. He doesn’t rock up wearing a uniform, you know, military badges and everything. Um, you know, Castro always just wore basic greens. You know, you never saw Castro with military, um, adornments, like a Gaddafi.
[01:34:45] Cameron: He was just, you know, military greens. ’cause he said, we’re at war and I’m a soldier, so, you know, I come dressed as a soldier, but Putin is just very quietly
[01:34:55] Cameron: spoken. Very matter of fact. Very look, here are the facts. You know, I’m laying the facts before you reminds me a lot actually of Assad in Syria, if you’ve ever seen interviews with him.
[01:35:08] Cameron: Very, very similar. I I’m not gonna compare the two guys ’cause I don’t think Assad is anywhere near what Putin is in terms of, you know, intellectual power, but very, very simple. Uh, you know, in interviews, very quietly spoken. Very matter of fact. Here’s the facts we see, you know, Putin exudes this quiet intellectual.
[01:35:31] Cameron: Confidence about his position, what his facts are. He’s always very respectful too. When, like, when, when, same with Oliver Stone interviews. When Carson was saying, well, what, what happened in this conversation? What happened in this meeting with Biden or with these leaders or with the, he goes, look, it’s not my place.
[01:35:51] Cameron: It would be, it would be not right for me to talk about things that were said in private. If you wanna know what your president said, go ask your president if you wanna know what Bill Clinton said. Carson, what do you think happened with Bill Clinton? He goes, it wouldn’t be right for me to, you know, speculate.
[01:36:06] Cameron: Go talk to Bill Clinton. Like, he’s always, he’s not advancing conspiracy theories. He is not advancing agendas. He’s just like, it’s not for me to say I, I, I know what I know, but you know, it, it’s the depiction of him in the western media is this bond villain. Doesn’t come across to me in these interviews.
[01:36:27] Cameron: Like does he have people assassinated? I don’t know. Quite possibly. Do American presidents have people assassinated? Yeah, absolutely. All the time. Does he arrest journalists? Sure. As Julian Assange in prison because of the us Sure. I mean, he does what he does and they talk about that like, as a Christian leader, you have to kill people.
[01:36:46] Cameron: Like how do you, how do you justify that? Right.
[01:36:51] Cameron: Um.
[01:36:53] Tony: I think you’ve raised the last point I wanted to talk about, and that was the timing of the interview. And, and I, I, I’ve, I don’t want to sound, uh, like any sort of Putin apologist for a minute. Um, apart from saying that he’s a smart guy and he doesn’t get a fair shot in the media, but what did you make of the Novelli.
[01:37:12] Tony: Uh,
[01:37:12] Tony: death, uh, around the soon after this interview was put to air, it was the interview, the bright shiny object to distract from something going
[01:37:20] Tony: on.
[01:37:23] Cameron: Look, um, well first of all, I’m not convinced that, you know, there’s any evidence that they like deliberately assassinated him. People die all the time. People die in prisons all the time.
[01:37:36] Cameron: Um.
[01:37:37] Tony: Especially in subzero Arctic
[01:37:40] Cameron: Sure,
[01:37:41] Tony: concentration camps.
[01:37:42] Cameron: but reports are that like the day or a couple of days before Navalny died, he appeared in court and he seemed to be healthy and un unlike
[01:37:49] Cameron: Julian Assange, who apparently is too sick to appear in
[01:37:52] Cameron: court. Um, but you know, again, I I, I don’t think Putin would try and time anything like this because I don’t think he really gives a rat’s ass.
[01:38:05] Cameron: I don’t think he cares what the Western media says. I don’t think he cares what western governments say. I think he’s a, like, bit like MBF in Saudi. Arabia having Khashoggi hacked to death with a, an axe in a bathtub. He doesn’t care. Like say what you want. I mean, you think I’m a bad guy, okay. I killed one of my enemies.
[01:38:24] Cameron: Who cares? What are you gonna do? Not buy my oil, like shut the fuck up. I don’t care. I think, I don’t think Putin really cares about bright, shiny objects. I don’t think he cares what the Americans think. I don’t, I do think he wants to. Finish the war in Ukraine. And in order to do that, he needs the US and the EU to stop funneling weapons into Ukraine.
[01:38:46] Cameron: I don’t think he wants a war there. Uh, um, whether or not the Navalny thing was timed with the upcoming Russian election and the interview, look, I, I don’t, I, I don’t think it matters. I don’t, I don’t think Navalny was gonna cause any problems in the Russian election. I’m pretty sure Putin’s got that stitched up by means, fair or foul.
[01:39:08] Cameron: I, you know, he is extremely popular. That’s the other thing the media never talk about here. All of the, all of the surveys that get done by credible western, uh, polling organizations say that he’s incredibly popular in Russia. Maybe because he gets all the pro-Russian propaganda from the media. Or maybe just because, you know, look at Russia before him under Yeltsin.
[01:39:33] Cameron: It was a basket case. Whatever else you wanna say about him. Like Hitler taking over Germany. He’s made the country stronger. He’s made the country in many ways, more economically viable, stronger, better standard of living. Is it perfect? No, but as he talks about in the, in the, the Oliver Stone interviews, it was a basket case when he took over 20 years ago.
[01:39:58] Cameron: It takes a long time to re, you know, not just rebuilding from the Soviet era, but then rebuilding from when the Americans went in, uh, under Yeltsin. Clinton sent his American strategists in and they just sold everything off to the oligarchs. You know, Putin’s been trying to. You know, rebuild the country and it takes time.
[01:40:20] Cameron: It’s a hard, it’s a hard slog, particularly when you’re facing all the other things that they’re facing with Western imperialism and all that kind of stuff in their region. So, no, I, I look, I, I dunno whether or not he was behind Navalny’s death. I, I dunno. Uh, you know, and, and every time anyone dies, Putin apparently personally signed the order.
[01:40:40] Cameron: I don’t know that that necessarily needs to be the case. There’s probably a lot of people between Putin and the guy that, um, you know, commits the act that, that are making de decisions for themselves. I don’t think the president of the United States personally authorizes everybody that every CIA operative Assassinates know.
[01:41:03] Cameron: I don’t know. What
[01:41:03] Cameron: do you think?
[01:41:05] Tony: No, I, I was just raising the question. I, I, if my personal opinion is, I think Nevali just died of, of, I’ll call it natural causes, and he’s in a subarctic, what’s it called? The polar bear or something facility, um, which is basically a death camp. And it just happened to coincide. But I guess that raises the, um, you know, the other issue for me is that it was a Western pile on, again, when Nevali died, that it was caused by Putin.
[01:41:32] Tony: Um, that, you know, see, he may have said some smart things during the interview, but this is what he’s really all
[01:41:37] Tony: about. This is what he does. So it’s, um, and I, and you know, I don’t for a minute think that if Putin didn’t do it, that he’s capable of doing it.
[01:41:45] Cameron: Sure.
[01:41:46] Tony: Yeah,
[01:41:46] Cameron: He’s ex-KGB and he is the leader of a country, like he’s capable of doing anything that he thinks is in the best
[01:41:52] Cameron: interest of his country. I’m sure.
[01:41:54] Tony: Yeah. But also it raises for me the bigger question of, um, of methods of government.
[01:41:58] Tony: And, and that could be behind some of the, you know, the slants of the media is like, you know, do, do, do. I do, I think do, do I think that Western democracy is the best form of government? Well, you just have to look at all the leaders we’ve had in the last 15, 20 years, or is a benevolent dictator
[01:42:16] Tony: a better form of government,
[01:42:18] Tony: um, even though that there are downsides to that if you are in, in opposition.
[01:42:22] Tony: Um, so I think that’s an interesting
[01:42:23] Tony: question to, to talk about as well.
[01:42:26] Cameron: The irony there is that the West loves Lee Kuan. Yew the West couldn’t get enough of Lee Kuan Yew and he was a benevolent dictator, as you say. And their system of government was very much like the Chinese system of government and who, you know, if you believe the books that I’ve been reading basically studied s Singapore’s form of government under Lee, Kuan, Yew and said, yeah, we want, we wanna have that, you know, we wanna be like that.
[01:42:53] Cameron: Let’s, let’s find the best and the brightest and give them positions of political power rather than just somebody who’s able to man manipulate the electorate to vote for them. That doesn’t make any sense.
[01:43:04] Cameron: Let’s find the best and the brightest.
[01:43:05] Tony: Yeah, well the best of the brightest do run power in the West. It’s just that they do it to line their pockets. It’s
[01:43:11] Tony: a little bit different.
[01:43:12] Cameron: You think Trump is
[01:43:13] Cameron: the best and the brightest
[01:43:15] Tony: No, I think Trump’s the mouthpiece. He’s the Ronald. Reagan.
[01:43:18] Cameron: Oh yeah. Right. Yeah.
[01:43:19] Tony: The best of the brightest are on Wall
[01:43:21] Cameron: Steve Bannon. Oh, wall Street. Okay.
[01:43:24] Cameron: All right. Well, that’s all I got. TK. Thanks for joining me. That was a good
[01:43:27] Cameron: chat.
[01:43:28] Tony: discussion. Yeah, thank you,
[01:43:30] Cameron: than we normally get to talk about these things at
[01:43:32] Cameron: the end of QAV.
[01:43:34] Tony: It is. Yeah. This could be the first of our after hours
[01:43:37] Cameron: Could be.
[01:43:38] Tony: podcast.
[01:43:39] Cameron: All right. Thank
[01:43:40] Cameron: you. TK. Cheers.
[01:43:42] Tony: Bye.

KungFused #1 – The Shaolin Story

We start our journey by exploring the history of martial arts in China, the creation of the Shaolin Temple, and the role played by the Indian monk Bodhidharma in introducing Chan Buddhism, kung fu and tea to China.

Transcript

Kungfused #1

[00:00:00] Cameron: Okay, are you ready? I’m ready.

[00:00:07] Cameron: KungFused. That’s what we are

[00:00:12] Chrissy: almost all the time.

[00:00:14] Cameron: KungFused about? Yes. Kung fu. Uh, my name’s Cameron.

[00:00:19] Chrissy: My name’s Chrissy

[00:00:21] Cameron: and our son is called Fox and he actually came up with that word. I dunno, some, something like sometime in the last year, um, all three of us are kung fu practitioners, wing Chung, kung Fu, and we were driving home Fox’s nine, um, might have been eight at this point, I can’t remember.

[00:00:43] Cameron: But we were driving home from Kung fu one day and he said, I wasn’t sure about something he was doing, and he said, I’m so KungFused. And we just thought that was hilarious. So we thought that was a good name for the podcast. So, uh, let’s talk about what this podcast series is going to be about, uh, or what it’s not gonna be about.

[00:01:06] Cameron: Let’s start with that. Okay. It’s not gonna be about Kung Fu techniques. Nope. Uh, because we dunno shit.

[00:01:21] Chrissy: The more we learn, the more we learn that we don’t know, so the less we

[00:01:25] Cameron: know. Yeah, yeah. Um, so Chrissy and I are very passionate students of Kung Fu, so is Fox. Uh, but we are not masters. We’re not even really good students.

[00:01:41] Chrissy: We try, we, we try, our best. People around us seem to think we’re a little bit crazed.

[00:01:47] Chrissy: Crazed.

[00:01:48] Cameron: Yeah. Yes. We are

[00:01:50] Chrissy: crazy people around us in our lives, but, um, yeah, I

[00:01:53] Cameron: mean, we’re obsessed with Kung. Fu. Yeah. We’ve been doing it, you and I, about coming up to three years. Fox, uh, coming up to two years. I, I did karate, Shotokan karate, uh, as a teenager for quite a few years and loved it. Reached a fairly high level, uh, then took a break only because I sort of moved interstate and never got around to getting back into it.

[00:02:21] Cameron: Did do some Wing Chung when I lived in Melbourne about 20 years ago, 18, 19 years ago for a while, but then I moved and didn’t get back into it. Always wanted to always loved martial arts since my dad took me to see Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris movies at the Drive-in growing up. Um, always been a, always been fascinated with, with martial arts and always wanted to get back into it.

[00:02:49] Cameron: And it was only a couple of years ago that we finally stumbled into doing martial arts together as a family. Um, but what I have been doing for nearly 20 years as history podcasts on all sorts of topics, ancient history, contemporary, 20th century history, um, I did podcasts on investing and I don’t know other things.

[00:03:12] Cameron: ai. So doing a podcast about the history of kung fu seems like a natural thing for me to do because I wanna know about the history. I know the high level stuff that we all know. We all know something, something Shaolin, but that’s about it. And I wanna know more about. How Kung Fu developed at Shaolin, why it developed at Shaolin and all the different styles and lineages that came out of it, and why, and when and where, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:03:46] Cameron: What about you?

[00:03:48] Chrissy: Why? Why did I, why am I doing Kung Fu? Why are you

[00:03:53] Cameron: doing a podcast about Kung Fu? Well, by the way, I should point out that I’ve been doing podcasts for nearly 20 years. You and I have been together for nearly 15 years. This is the first time that we’ve ever tried to do a podcast together.

[00:04:08] Cameron: Yeah.

[00:04:08] Chrissy: Well, yeah. Yeah.

[00:04:10] Cameron: And normally when I try and talk about anything history related. You can focus for about 10 seconds, and then you try and stab me in the throat. Um, and your eyes roll up in the back of your head. You start frothing at the mouth and sh and shaking like you’ve been, you either having an epileptic fit or you’ve been possessed by Beelzebub or something.

[00:04:30] Cameron: Is that what’s happening to me? Could be. Yeah. Or you think I’m possessed by Beelzebub and you need to exercise the demon by stabbing me. I

[00:04:39] Chrissy: think those thought, yeah. It was along the, that thought line maybe in the first year we were together.

[00:04:47] Chrissy: No. Um,

[00:04:52] Chrissy: yeah. I I mean we talk about kung fu so much already. Yeah. Um, and I think that we’re at the point in our training where we, I, I we’re, we’re kind of at a point in our training where at a bit of a ceiling, wouldn’t you say a Feeling? Yeah. And God, I hope

[00:05:15] Cameron: not. If this is as good as I’m ever gonna get. No,

[00:05:20] Chrissy: no, no, no, no.

[00:05:21] Chrissy: It’s like this is a skyscraper. Oh. We’re like,

[00:05:25] Cameron: we’re on the fir, we’re on the ceiling of the first floor. Yeah. And there’s a hundred stories. Yeah, I see what you mean. Yeah.

[00:05:31] Chrissy: Um, just for our path that have been set out for us by our seafoods and just like, I feel it, um, uh, and I just feel like we’re already talking about it so much.

[00:05:45] Chrissy: I’m very curious about it. Um, why not do a podcast and you and I, Yeah. We, I mean, we could honestly record some of our conversations and it would be entertaining. Well, that’s pretty much what, just about Kung Fu and why not learn and kind of, I feel like learning more about it and further deepening our knowledge about it.

[00:06:12] Chrissy: Might help us with our training and might help us with our mindset and might help us. Um, it might help me focus more, as you already like, explained. I don’t choose what I focus, what my brain

[00:06:30] Cameron: focuses on. Well, and I think part of it for me is I like going deep in stuff. Um, which is why I started podcasting in the first place.

[00:06:38] Cameron: ’cause I was reading books on stuff and I thought, well, I might as well talk about it. But you and I have already talked about the fact we’re gonna, we’re gonna do kung fu for the rest of our lives if our bodies allow us to. Yeah. You know, and for, for all of the health benefits that we get from it, not just.

[00:06:57] Cameron: Physical, but, uh, emotional, psychological, uh, the community, the friendships. Mm. Um, everything. It’s just been many levels of positive and, and for Fox as well. Mm-Hmm. And, and all of the benefits that he gets out of it in those areas as well. So it’s something we’re gonna do for decades. Mm-Hmm. We might as well learn as much as we can about it and the history of it and the philosophy of it and, Mm-Hmm.

[00:07:27] Cameron: And as I’ve already learned through preparing for this week’s episode, there’s a lot of overlaps between the philosophy of, uh, from where Kung Fu came from and our personal philosophies anyway, that we’ve been living by for, in my case, 30 odd years. Your case since you met me, uh, you know, 15 years ago.

[00:07:47] Cameron: Mm-Hmm. Um, yeah.

[00:07:50] Chrissy: I was gonna ask though, were you asking also why I wanna do Kung Fu? Well, or why am I into it? Is that

[00:07:57] Cameron: that’s coming up? Yes. Okay. Okay. Um, I was just gonna say that one of the things that I’ve learnt in preparing for this episode, I read, um, a couple of books on the history of Shaolin Temple.

[00:08:11] Cameron: Everyone of course associates, Kung Fu with Shaolin Temple. Neither of us have been to Shaolin Temple, but my mother was there a couple of months ago. Yeah. She was weirdly zero interest in Kung Fu, but happened to be on a tour of China with a friend of hers and spend a day at Shaolin and now just

[00:08:27] Chrissy: sends us random reels on Facebook and

[00:08:33] Cameron: Yeah.

[00:08:34] Cameron: Um, but hopefully, uh, as we progress with the series, we’ll get experts on different styles and the history and philosophy to come on, but. I’ve talked about my history with martial arts. It’s been something I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid in one way, shape or form. Either practicing it or watching martial arts movies.

[00:08:57] Cameron: Um, what about your relationship with martial arts? Where did that start?

[00:09:04] Chrissy: Well, well it started in 1980 with Karate Kid,

[00:09:10] Cameron: 1984, but Okay.

[00:09:11] Chrissy: 1984. Yeah. In the eighties. 1980s.

[00:09:13] Cameron: How old were you in, is what I meant? How old were you in 1984? I was five.

[00:09:21] Chrissy: Right. Um, yeah, like I saw it and, you know, I grew up in small town Utah.

[00:09:28] Chrissy: Um, and there was, I’d never seen anything like it, of course, but it was just like, whoa. And it was the coolest thing too. And I was, you know, I was into it and I kind of like dreamt of. Um, doing something like that, like allowed myself to have a daydream about it, I guess. Um, but I think in general I really enjoy physicality and I really enjoy kind of powerful sort of dynamic physicality.

[00:10:01] Chrissy: Um, so I always was doing gymnastics. Um, like I think maybe just a bit of lessons, but mainly just teaching myself, my sister and I, and doing lots of stuff like that with my body. Um,

[00:10:23] Chrissy: did lots of mountain climbing and stuff. Here. I don’t have the opportunity to do that kind of stuff, so I don’t know. It, it’s when you, when we when you said, I want to do Wing, Chun, Kung, Fu, and I was do, I was like. Yeah, I’ll try. I’ll try it. Yeah, for sure. Like, I don’t know, it was just a thing and then suddenly I realized that yeah, this is what I’m meant to be doing.

[00:10:48] Chrissy: It’s the exact way. It’s all the things about it is what I love. Yeah. You know, I just love moving my body. I love the flexibility. I love the powerful dynamic. I love, I love it all. And, and the soft dynamic and all of it.

[00:11:04] Cameron: You’ve always been sort of into running and the gym and, but never, you’ve never done any martial arts before?

[00:11:10] Cameron: We started Kung fu a couple of years ago. No, but

[00:11:13] Chrissy: I’ve been active my whole adult life. Yeah. Like doing lots of different stuff. Just, um, not a martial art. And I lived in Seattle for nine years. Like I should have become more curious about Bruce Lee while I was there. And I just, it, and Jimmy, it wasn’t really on my radar.

[00:11:33] Chrissy: Yeah. I was like in Bill Gates, I was in the Jeff Bezos School of Music Building and yeah,

[00:11:40] Cameron: UDub, just like you went to the same university as Bruce Lee, which we’ll talk about. So we go forward. Yeah, that’s true. So, um, yeah, martial arts is relatively new for you as a thing to do, but you became quickly obsessed with it.

[00:11:54] Chrissy: Yeah, even though I didn’t know how to, um, make a fist when I first went in for, for a while, I was still making a fist with my thumb on the

[00:12:04] Cameron: side. And we should say that I, I’m 53. You, you just turned 45 Mm-Hmm. So you were in your early forties when we started. I’d just turned 50 I think, when we started, um, or was about to turn 51 or the other.

[00:12:16] Cameron: Can’t remember. But, um, so we, we are like late in life. Students. Yeah. We’re not in our twenties. This is something that we are starting middle-aged. Mm-Hmm. And, um, it’s hard to start anything in middle-aged, let alone something that is as hard as learning Kung Fu is. Mm. But um, as I said at the beginning, we are totally obsessed with it and we love it.

[00:12:42] Cameron: We go, we train four or five times a week, sometimes for a couple of hours. Uh, we go to the Quune for a couple of hours. We are walking around the house, practicing our balancing and our stretching and our kicking and our everything. We’re just Yeah. Totally hooked and obsessed.

[00:13:00] Chrissy: You say it’s hard and it, yeah, it’s true.

[00:13:03] Chrissy: But like, what else are we gonna be doing with

[00:13:06] Cameron: our lives? Well, that’s, yeah, that’s right. Getting old and stiff

[00:13:10] Chrissy: and, well, I want to be doing something hard. Yes. I want to have a challenge That’s. Part of the allure for me, like it is challenging and that lights me up, you know?

[00:13:20] Cameron: And it’s not just physically challenging, it’s mentally challenging.

[00:13:24] Cameron: Yes. And you’re forced to think really hard about what you’re doing. And there’s a huge learning curve constantly. Mm-Hmm. A huge learning curve. And it’s just like, I’ve never really liked exercise. I’ve done it on and off. Never really liked it, did it because I knew I had to do

[00:13:40] Chrissy: something. You’ve always looked at it as like this huge chore.

[00:13:46] Chrissy: There was a never been joy No. In it for you ever. And I never

[00:13:49] Cameron: understood that you would, you know, people would talk about getting an endorphin hit when they went for a run or went to the gym. I never got that as an adult. I probably did when I did karate as a, as a kid. And I was

[00:14:00] Chrissy: doing, I was lifting weights and doing gym classes all throughout my pregnancy even.

[00:14:05] Chrissy: Yeah. Up until the day before Fox was born,

[00:14:08] Cameron: I think. But. I totally get it now. Yeah. Like I come out of every Kung Fu class, sore, tired, but ill and feeling terrific. Yeah. Elated, you know? Yes. Elated. Like, yes. Uh, you know, even if I felt like I sucked and I couldn’t do anything. Right. And, and, you know, I couldn’t process anything the Sifu was saying.

[00:14:33] Cameron: I still come out of it going, that was the greatest. Like, it’s just a huge bump if it’s early in the, sometimes we go to morning classes, sometimes it’s night classes, but either way we come out of it. Just pumped. That’s true. Exhausted but pumped. So anyway, um, I was gonna say, it could easily

[00:14:50] Chrissy: turn into an hour of us talk, talking just about this, and look

[00:14:53] Cameron: over the course of, uh, the course of the show.

[00:14:55] Cameron: We will probably talk about lots of different things about us and our lives and other things that we’re passionate about. But let’s start with Kung. Fu and see where it goes.

[00:15:05] Chrissy: Raven. Yeah.

[00:15:07] Cameron: So the history. Of Kung. Fu obviously needs to be a history of the Shaolin Temple, even though as I’ve learned Kung Fu or Wushu, or there’s a lot of different names for, it didn’t start in Shaolin.

[00:15:24] Cameron: It was quite common throughout China being studied in monasteries and other places for thousand years, 1500 years maybe before the Shaolin Temple was ever built. And one of the questions I had is, well, when we associate, when we think about martial arts today, we tend to think about Kung Fu or derivatives of Kung Fu.

[00:15:52] Cameron: Karate, judo, you know, jiu-jitsu, TaeKwonDo, et cetera. Eagle Fang. Eagle Fang. Yeah. Um, sorry. Yes, we’re huge Cobra Kai fans obviously. Um, I, I, you know, you were six when Karate Kid came out. I was 14 and doing, had been doing karate for four years and was kind of a little bit pissed A, that I wasn’t the kid doing karate, that I wasn’t the karate kid and B, that it was very obvious that the kid who was playing Daniel San.

[00:16:31] Cameron: Had no idea what he was doing. Like I’d been, you know, PR training for four years and he was just getting up there and waving his hands around. And, uh, that kind of, and not only him but Pat Merida, Mr. Miyagi had no idea what he was doing either. Uh, it was kind of annoying. Johnny Lawrence did though.

[00:16:51] Cameron: Johnny Lawrence had trained, I believe. Cool. Whatever the actor’s name is. I can’t remember. Anyway, enough about my ego blows as a teenager.

[00:17:01] Chrissy: Um, also it is one other, um, piece of evidence that we’re in my simulation. Yes. You were the karate kid. Yes. At that. Like, I was like, yes,

[00:17:13] Cameron: Chrissy saw Crocodile Dundee and ended up marrying an Australian and moving to Australia.

[00:17:17] Chrissy: No, but obsessed with that movie. Obsessed with Karate Kid is now doing Man from Snowy River. Yeah. Like what? Okay.

[00:17:25] Cameron: And what was the other one? Um, PeeWee’s. Big Adventure. Yeah. We, our son is a bit peewee.

[00:17:32] Chrissy: Yes, we did give birth to a peewee

[00:17:34] Cameron: adjacent. You, you’re basically child. We’re convinced. I’m living in Chrissy’s simulation.

[00:17:39] Cameron: Um, so the history of Chinese martial arts I read up on, um, as I said predates Shaolin by many, many centuries. There’s a document called the Shi Ji, or the records of the grand historian, written by a guy called Shma Qian who lived from 1 45 to 90 BCE. And he wrote a history of basically China going back thousands or more years.

[00:18:12] Cameron: His, he came from a, a family of imperial historians, like his father, his grandfather were imperial historians. So they had access to all of these imperial records. And he, he traveled around and met people and interviewed people to pull together these stories. And he’s considered quite, uh, a skeptical, uh, scientific kind of historian, which didn’t exist in the west really for another 1500 years after him.

[00:18:40] Cameron: But he talked about in the records of the grand historian, the presence of martial arts back some like a thousand BCE in China in different forms. So it had been around, uh, a very long time, something that Chinese had been practicing since, you know, the foundation of China pretty much. Um, and this book that he wrote, the records is astounding.

[00:19:08] Cameron: It’s, uh, four times longer than the history of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides and longer than the Old Testament. So it’s an incredible book, which I’d never even heard of before. Right. As I, I’ve been doing a lot of shows about China recently for some of my other podcasts, and getting a increasing appreciation for how old China is and how much China had done while the Greeks were still, you know, throwing rocks at each other.

[00:19:39] Cameron: Mm-Hmm. China had built, you know, ma mammoth empires and had thought about a lot of stuff. We, writing

[00:19:45] Chrissy: stuff, we don’t learn lot about that and we don’t learn a lot about, like you were saying the other day. Um. You know, things happening in Islamic

[00:19:55] Cameron: countries and Yeah. Yeah. One of my series we’re doing, uh, the Islamic Golden Age and, you know, the 800 CE, the stuff that these Islamic scholars were coming up with was astounding.

[00:20:06] Cameron: Yeah. And Leonardo da Vinci, guys like that, that lived 800 years later, seven, 800 years later, were building on the work that these Islamic scholars had done. Anyway, people

[00:20:16] Chrissy: learning about it are history

[00:20:17] Cameron: nerds like you Yeah. Just nerds. Mm-Hmm. Um, and look, and talking about martial arts, like boxing was around an ancient Greece.

[00:20:27] Cameron: Uh, the, the, the classic Indian Sanskrit epics, like the Mahabharata talk about fighting styles, hand-to-hand fighting styles that existed in India. Um, the ancient Parthians, the, the, the, the predecessor to the Persians had a, a style of grappling known as Kosh Tea, which people are still practicing apparently in Iran.

[00:20:51] Cameron: Hmm. But when, as I said before, when we think martial arts today, I think most of us in the West think Asian martial arts. And I wonder how much of that has to do with Bruce Lee.

[00:21:03] Chrissy: Oh yeah. I think everything has to do with Bruce Lee.

[00:21:07] Cameron: It all goes back. I mean, there were Kung Fu movies before Bruce. Uh, but you know, I think Bruce just had such a huge impact.

[00:21:18] Cameron: Mm-Hmm. On cinema and television in the West and our association with martial arts, it’s pretty much all goes back to his influence. Um, that’s my working hypothesis anyway, why we think martial arts equals, um, Asian martial arts and not these others. And, and you know, the proliferation of martial arts in the west.

[00:21:44] Cameron: Obviously because of Bruce and Jackie Chan and, and people like that who came after ’cause of

[00:21:50] Chrissy: Hollywood. It’s the first time I saw anything like that. Yeah. As this kid who grew up in, you know, white rural Utah

[00:21:58] Cameron: was Karate kid. Yeah. Before you saw a Bruce Lee movie.

[00:22:02] Chrissy: I think that my brothers had, they watched like Kung Fu, I

[00:22:07] Cameron: think David Carradine the

[00:22:10] Chrissy: TV show.

[00:22:10] Chrissy: Yeah. Yeah. I was really little though, and I don’t think that I was really paying attention when that was happening, but Yeah.

[00:22:18] Cameron: Well, and that was ripped off of Bruce Lee too. Bruce, um, pitched a TV show like that to the networks in the US and they said they weren’t interested and then came out with the exact same story.

[00:22:34] Cameron: But with David Carradine a white man in the role instead of Bruce. Before Bruce was famous. I think he, that, that happened probably around about the time he was doing the green Hornet. Anyway, so let’s talk about the Shaolin Monastery for a bit. Um, built in 4 95 ce, it’s a long time ago. Um, you know, at the same time Rome had fallen, Rome was sort of, uh, not in a good place.

[00:23:09] Cameron: Um, there wasn’t much going on in Europe in 4 95 ce. It was the, the beginning of the dark ages, but. Shaolin was built near a city which still exists today, called Luoyang in China, which at the time was one of the biggest cities in the world. Had about half a million people living in it, around four ninety-five, which would’ve been more, I think that was in Rome at that stage.

[00:23:34] Cameron: ’cause Rome had had collapsed and the, the, um, emperor had moved the primary residence down to Constantinople. And, you know, the, the Western Roman Empire was sort of in chaos. Shaolin Temple was built at the foot of a mountain called Songshan, which is in Dongfeng County, Henan Province, Northern China, along the Southern Bank of the Yellow River.

[00:24:02] Cameron: And, uh, it was, it, it was sort of, had been famous for a long time in China. It’s known as the Central Mountain of the five great mountains of China. And as far back as the first millennium BCE. Chinese, uh, mythology had positioned it as the center of heaven and earth, bit like, uh, it’s probably Missouri for Mormons.

[00:24:29] Cameron: Yeah. Yes. Or um, it’s where probably monkey was born. Oh, okay. Um, and so this Buddhist temple was built in 4 95, 4 96 ce and it was named for the peak that was next to it, Mount Shaoxi. So it was called Shaolin, which I believe is the forest of Shao Mountain is where it was built. So like in the bottom of the mountain.

[00:24:58] Cameron: Luoyang, by the way, had, was built around, uh, 700 BCE. There were earlier cities there, but the, what became the city of Luoyang had been around for, uh, know, 1200 years when Shaolin Temple was bought. Just, uh, built just outside of it. But then we have to talk about the history of Buddha and Buddhism. How much do you know about the history of Buddhism White girl from Utah?

[00:25:25] Chrissy: Yeah. That, not like as much as you would think.

[00:25:30] Cameron: Do you wanna take a guess When Buddha lived? No. Wow. Following in the tradition of my co-hosts,

[00:25:42] Chrissy: you told me I didn’t

[00:25:43] Cameron: have to prepare. No, I said, you just need to giggle a lot. So, Buddha Siddhartha, Gautama traditionally is said to have lived between the sixth and fifth centuries.

[00:25:56] Cameron: B.C.E born in Nepal, so basically India at the time. Um, and most scholars think he lived probably between five-sixty-three B.C.E, and 4 63, 4 83 BCE, you know, as you would expect, not a lot of real historical evidence for Buddha, but that’s, you know, the, what the, the basic assumption is. So he’d been dead for a thousand years before the Shaolin temple was built.

[00:26:30] Cameron: Buddhism had been around for a thousand years, but Buddhism was an Indian thing. How did it end up in China? Well. It started to trickle across. So the, the Silk Road, which was sort of the, you know much about the Silk Road. Yeah. The Trading Highway. Basically. Trading highway. Exactly. So there’s a lot of idea sharing that was going on, uh, between India and China during sort of the first century CE.

[00:27:02] Cameron: And it believed they, they believe that Buddhism sort of made its way from India to China. Around about, then there’s some early translations of Buddhist texts into Chinese around about the second century CE. And it, it sort of started to make its way into China. Slowly, China’s traditional religions were Confucianism and Taoism.

[00:27:26] Cameron: Buddhism slowly started to build up a following in there, and I. By around about the two hundreds CE, it started to develop a bit of a presence, but it was really sort of in the five hundreds and six hundreds that it really became quite strong and started to get a lot of imperial recognition. But it was, um, there, there’s this thing in 5 47, a history of the temples around Loy was written by a guy called Yang, and he mentions that the golden wind chimes that hung along one part, particular temple’s, eaves could be heard for three miles, and the spire of the temple’s pagoda could be seen over 30 miles away.

[00:28:12] Cameron: And then he says that there was a monk from the west named Bodhidharma, who called it the most imposing structure he’d ever seen. And I think that’s the earliest record that we have of Bodhidharma. Now, uh, I mentioned Bodhidharma to a couple of people in the last week, and they thought Bodhidharma was the Buddha different guy lived a thousand years after the Buddha.

[00:28:37] Cameron: You ever heard of Bodhidharma?

[00:28:40] Chrissy: Yes. Today when we were talking about the podcast,

[00:28:44] Cameron: before that, had you ever heard of Bodhidharma? No. I’ve known about so, and this blew my mind this week because like I’ve known about Bodhidharma since I started getting interested in Zen when I was like 12 or 13. Uh, because he’s traditionally considered the founder of Chan Buddhism, which when it went to Japan became known as Zen Buddhism.

[00:29:10] Cameron: But I never knew that he was connected to Shaolin Temple until the last couple of weeks when I started reading about the history of Shaolin, which just kind of blew my mind. So these two topics that I’ve been fascinated with my entire life. Zen Buddhism and Kung Fu, all connected Bodhidharma and the Shaolin temple.

[00:29:34] Cameron: Um, which is kind of mind-boggling, although if he actually existed, which seems to be there some evidence that he did from this history. The role that he played in either of those is really unknown. It’s mostly mythology, you know, there’s not a lot of evidence for him or what he did as you would expect.

[00:29:56] Cameron: Um, but he is known as the founder of Chan Buddhism, he’s called Bodhidharma, was his Indian name. He’s known as Dhammo in Chinese and Daruma in Japan. They think he traveled to China in around about the four seventies to seek enlightenment and to teach Buddhism. I. And eventually, you know, sort of sailed around The Indian coast got ended up in China in the four seventies, traveled around China for like 20 years and ended up at Shaolin not long after it was built.

[00:30:35] Cameron: He wasn’t the first Abbot. The first Abbot was a guy called Batuo who was, uh, teaching traditional Buddhism, um, studying the scriptures, all of that kind of stuff. And there’s a, there’s a, there’s actually a tradition that Ba was fascinated with Chinese martial arts and was picking his students based on their level of interest in martial arts.

[00:30:59] Cameron: So even the tr the, there’s like multiple traditions about how Shaolin became associated with martial arts. And one of them is that the first abbot was in martial arts. Another is that Bodhidharma introduced them to martial arts when he got there. Um, but. Bodhidharma arrives and he, he’s practicing this early form of Chan Buddhism according to tradition, which is kind of based around a Buddhist Sutra called the Lankavatara Sutra, which is all about the direct experience of enlightenment.

[00:31:39] Cameron: Now this brings us to the second topic that we’re interested in, which is Enlightenment. Yeah. Eastern Philosophy and Enlightenment. Um, I’ve been involved in that. As I said, like I, I started, I got into trouble at my high school when I was 12 or 13 ’cause we had to fill out a form for religious education and we had to write what religion we were.

[00:32:07] Cameron: And I wrote Zen Buddhist on the top of mine. This was like 1983. And did you know what that meant? I did. I’d been reading books outta the school library on Zen. Buddhism. I dunno why I think I saw a book on it and thought, oh, I’ve heard of that. I wonder what it is. Is that

[00:32:23] Chrissy: what mon like

[00:32:25] Cameron: monkey Monkey? Yeah.

[00:32:26] Cameron: Probably. It was probably because of monkey, which was huge in Australia in the early

[00:32:32] Chrissy: eighties. That was probably just that seed. Yes. Actually deep into that subconscious when you were a kid, you know?

[00:32:39] Cameron: And my entire life has been based on monkey as a result. Yeah. But anyway, so, um, your introduction to Eastern philosophy was really when you met me, I guess.

[00:32:52] Cameron: Mm-Hmm. 15 years ago. Well,

[00:32:55] Chrissy: that’s not exactly true. I mean, I, I’m not illiterate about, uh, Buddhism. I have read things throughout the years in. Knew the main tenets of, um, I think Zen Buddhism, I was familiar with that. Um, I can’t remember what it was that I read, but I read and listen to stuff all the time and Yeah.

[00:33:20] Chrissy: But I think really diving in and, um, studying, considering stretching my brain around it Yeah. Was with you.

[00:33:31] Cameron: Mm. And it’s had a big impact on both of our lives, you know? Definitely sort of, I, sort of, my introduction to it seriously was a few years, like, um, when I was, I dunno, 18 or 19, I was trying to get sober.

[00:33:49] Cameron: I’d, I’d been trying to kill myself with alcohol when I was 17, 18 ’cause I was miserable. And, uh, met a guy I. Um, Bob who’s still around, and he got me interested in philosophy. Not, didn’t call it Zen, called it sort of non-duality or Advaita, but Advaita is basically the Zen of Hinduism. Um, it’s called Chan in, in in China, Zen in Japan, and Advaita in India.

[00:34:27] Cameron: It’s got a different tradition, but you know, it’s the same sort of teaching Advaita translates as non-duality. And, and you know, pretty much, you know, I’m convinced that his intro, he’s introducing me to that at that age probably saved my life. I, I probably would’ve, uh, not lasted many years where my head was at, um, at that age.

[00:34:52] Cameron: So it’s, it’s played a huge role in my life. And

[00:34:56] Chrissy: that’s why I always say that you saved my life too because I came, I started really seriously, um, becoming curious and almost hungry for it when I was getting sober. ’cause I’ve been sober now. How many years has it

[00:35:16] Cameron: been coming up? 13 this year, I think 12 or 13.

[00:35:24] Cameron: 2012. So it’d be 12 years this year. Right?

[00:35:28] Chrissy: Yeah. Um, yeah. So that’s been part of my sober journey, I guess. Yeah. Is diving into that and it really, I think, fulfilled that spirituality. Part of the, I don’t know, the healing process that has to happen I think sometimes.

[00:35:54] Cameron: Yeah. The investigation into, I mean, asking the big questions, I guess.

[00:36:02] Cameron: Who, who am I, What am I, Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? How do I live my life? Mm-Hmm.

[00:36:10] Chrissy: Uh, you and I both should we, we can just say we’re part of AA, right? Is that something we can say?

[00:36:19] Cameron: I’m not sure I could say I am anymore. I haven’t been to a meeting 30 years, but I was, that’s how I got sober. Yeah.

[00:36:26] Cameron: Yeah. Well,

[00:36:27] Chrissy: I’m saying we were in that program.

[00:36:29] Cameron: We got sober through

[00:36:29] Chrissy: aa. Yeah. Yeah. So even getting over step one, Advaita came in to help me figure that out. Yeah. Because I am def, I was definitely not going to pretend that I believed in Christianity. Yeah. Or a God. Yeah. So, yeah, that helped me through that.

[00:36:51] Chrissy: Yeah.

[00:36:51] Cameron: Anyway. So, um, and we, I wanna talk about this in some detail because this is central to the story of Shaolin Temple. So well before it became known as the center of Kung Fu, which really didn’t happen until the 15 hundreds. For a thousand years. It was the major center, particularly in Northern China of Chan Buddhism.

[00:37:20] Cameron: And tradition says that that was introduced by Bodhidharma. So, I mean, for people that aren’t familiar with Zen or non-duality, teachings of any sort, hold on. Chrissie’s. Just gonna pour a more tea. Being Chinese Night, we have to drink tea even though it’s Indian. But Bodhidharma introduced tea to China.

[00:37:45] Cameron: We’ll get to that according to tradition later. Um. The Lanka Vatara. Sutra is really about using, uh, a direct concept of, of emptiness. Um, just using your mind to perceive the real nature of things as opposed to other forms of Buddhism, which taught certain practices or studying the scriptures living a good life, you know, the rightful path and all of that kind of stuff.

[00:38:29] Cameron: Chan, Buddhism, Zen, Buddhism and Advaita teach just a, a direct path to becoming aware of the illusory nature of things, and that is, you know what Bama. Uh, called into tradition, introduced into not just China, but into the world because he’s, I mean, he, he was basing it on the Lankavatara Sutra, but he became the, sort of the founder of the School of Buddhism, known as Chan.

[00:39:03] Cameron: Whether or not he was probably not, but that’s, you know, the, the what tradition ascribes to him. And I guess, uh, you know what, what all of these non-duality philosophies are teaching is that there’s just one thing. Not many things in my terminology, thanks. It’s just the universe. There is only one thing.

[00:39:26] Cameron: It is the universe and I, you, we are, that there’s no separation. Separation is illusion. I wrote a book about it some years ago. Um, and it’s fascinating to me that Kung Fu. It came out of Shaolin Temple, which was, had been for a thousand years, the main place, particularly in Northern China that was teaching this philosophy and what the connection is between non-duality philosophy and Kung Fu.

[00:40:06] Cameron: Like how does one influence the other and how do they work together? How does that philosophical understanding improve your practition, your practitioner, your practice? Mm-Hmm. Of Kung Fu. Right. Is what one of the things I wanna explore.

[00:40:25] Chrissy: Yeah. It’s a really interesting question. Um, go on.

[00:40:35] Cameron: Well, before I do that, talk about how non-duality has helped you in the last 10 years.

[00:40:47] Chrissy: I, I honestly feel like there could be an episode on that

[00:40:51] Cameron: and there will be probably over time, but high level. Well, like practically, how has it helped you

[00:41:00] Chrissy: practically except accepting that everything has to happen Exactly how it happens. I’m just along for the ride. Um, there’s, there’s just What does that do for you?

[00:41:17] Chrissy: It, it allows me to release the illusion of control in my life. Um, it allows me to accept reality for what it is. Um, it allows me in times that are bad to know you. Yeah, this is exactly what’s meant to be happening right now. I don’t know why it’s happening, but it’s ex, it’s supposed to be happening right now.

[00:41:51] Chrissy: I don’t know. There’s, um, it, I, I would say it just trickles into my whole mindset really. I’m less reactive usually. Um, my view of myself doesn’t have so much identity there, you know, anymore. It’s just, it, yeah, it’s all about this experience that I get to experience. So, I don’t know. I, I could talk a lot more, but, um, I guess I wasn’t prepared for sort of a nutshell answer to that.

[00:42:34] Chrissy: But yeah, I, I, I guess it helps me. With that pure, pure acceptance. And I feel like with pure acceptance, there is happiness and weirdly, a lot of freedom, which I think a lot of people don’t, are afraid of non-duality because then they think, well then I’m just trapped Mm. In this narrative and I don’t want to be in it.

[00:42:59] Chrissy: And really the opposite has been true in my experience. There’s such, such freedom you let go of so much that is just, um, bullshit. Yeah. That’s not helpful. Yeah, yeah.

[00:43:16] Cameron: Yeah. I mean, in my 30 odd years of being involved in non-duality philosophy, I believe it’s not only saved my life, but has enabled me to live.

[00:43:31] Cameron: I. With, uh, without anxiety, without fear, without guilt, without resentment, without anger, because none of those emotions really make sense. In a non-dualistic philosophy, there’s no, there’s no room for them. You don’t have to try and talk yourself out of them. There’s just no basis for them. When you accept that there is only one thing, and it’s just functioning as it has to function, and you are witnessing that as it unfolds, you can’t be angry at.

[00:44:06] Cameron: A cloud for blowing through the sky. It’s just what the cloud has to do based on what’s happening to, its, its atoms at that particular point in time. I mean, you might be angry, but you don’t get

[00:44:18] Chrissy: angry at Mother Nature No. For dumping

[00:44:21] Cameron: rain. Some people do, but it’s not a very productive exercise. Yeah. Like why?

[00:44:27] Cameron: Yeah. And when you realize that free will is an illusion and doesn’t exist and science is pretty much unified in its confirmation of that neuroscientists, etc. That when you, when you accept that free will has never existed, can’t possibly exist, uh, ’cause it sort of would break the laws of physics that actions are based on decisions.

[00:44:53] Cameron: There’s decisions of thoughts, thoughts of properties of the brain. The brain operates according to the laws of chemistry, and so every action is the result of just the laws of chemistry playing out. When you let go of the idea of free will, which I did 30 years ago, you can’t really be angry at other people for doing things because you know that they don’t have any control over what they do.

[00:45:13] Cameron: It’s just the laws of chemistry. It’s the state of their brain playing out as it is in the moment. You can’t be angry at yourself because you realize that things that you have done, uh, is exactly what had to happen, what you had to do based on the chemical state of your brain at the time. Mm-Hmm. Which you have no control over.

[00:45:30] Cameron: Mm-Hmm. Um, so guilt, anger, resentment against things that your parents have done or other people have done just disappears because it has no, it has no logical framework to reside in. It doesn’t make sense. Right. Like you said, being angry at the weather, uh, or being angry at a toddler, or being angry at a.

[00:45:54] Cameron: Cat a kitten for

[00:45:56] Chrissy: being cute. Being so cute,

[00:46:00] Cameron: you know? Yeah. Exploding my brain with cuteness,

[00:46:07] Cameron: being angry at TikTok videos of cute kittens, and you just needing to show them to me and just giggling while you do it. Oh dear. Yes. That makes no sense. Not to say that, you know, I don’t have moments of anger or anxiety, but they don’t last long because they don’t make any sense.

[00:46:28] Chrissy: Well, that’s just it.

[00:46:29] Chrissy: Like we’re still, um, we still appear to be humans living an emotional experience, actually. Um,

[00:46:41] Cameron: to varying degrees. Yeah. I still cry during Dr. Who episodes, you still

[00:46:45] Chrissy: cry like. Okay.

[00:46:50] Cameron: Bollywood films. Yes. You,

[00:46:53] Chrissy: you cry if you’re talking about anything. A little bit heroic.

[00:46:58] Cameron: Yes. That gets me, there’s a hero complex thing or a mother thing like Vincent Van Gogh dying before his art was truly appreciated.

[00:47:09] Cameron: Yeah, yeah. Gets me, yeah. Gets me in the feels. It does. And I dunno why. And you think it’s hilarious?

[00:47:19] Chrissy: It is. Because it’s a game for me now. Yes. And the game is, you can tell, I’ll be washing the dishes and you’re just talking to me and telling me a story. My brain already knows the quality of this story fits into that category of like heroic or like I know the quality of whatever.

[00:47:38] Chrissy: It could be a song. Yeah. It could. Like I just know this and then. There’s like this little tiny change in your voice. Yeah. That only I would detect. Yes. But I know it. And Fox now, and I’m like, are you

[00:47:49] Cameron: crying? Fox picks it up now too. Are you crying, dad? Yeah. Yes. No, shut up. Shut up. You’re crying. Yeah.

[00:48:01] Cameron: I’m not crying. You are

[00:48:01] Chrissy: crying. But that, that’s, you know, your philosophy spiel basically. Yes. Um, the way you understand it, the, what I’m sort of wanting to get into is what, what Chen Buddhism, how, how it’s kind of articulated, how it was understood. Hmm. Um, and how, yeah. I’m interested in the Y kung fu Mm-Hmm.

[00:48:34] Chrissy: Entwined with this philosophy. Or how the cultural aspect of that kind of seeped into it. Does

[00:48:46] Cameron: that make sense? Yeah. And, and I don’t know the answer to that yet. That’s one of the things I wanna explore by doing the research on it. And even if there is one, I mean, martial arts were being practiced right across China, as I said, from, you know, well before Bodhidharma arrived with Chan Buddhism and at various points in time with warring kingdoms going on, and, and, you know, warring, you know, um, factions, it was necessary for people to defend themselves.

[00:49:20] Cameron: And there were periods when weapons were outlawed by various emperors. Um, so they had to use hand-to-hand combat if they were going to. Protect their monastery from, you know, warring tribes or Raiders or whatever it was. And Shaolin got destroyed a couple of times, uh, uh, in different conflagrations that they were caught in the middle of.

[00:49:44] Cameron: So maybe it had nothing to do with Chan Buddhism and it was just about, um, uh, you know, the need to defend themselves. And they just happened to become really good at it. Although, you know, uh, Bruce Lee went to University of Washington to study philosophy primarily Chan and Taoism, which talk I, I’ve got some quotes from Bruce coming up.

[00:50:10] Cameron: Um, so even if the development of Kung Fu at Shaolin had nothing to do with Chan Buddhism, and that was just a coincidence. The question then is, does, uh, an understanding of non-duality help a pro, a practitioner of Kung Fu. Bruce, certainly thought so. I

[00:50:32] Chrissy: think so.

[00:50:35] Cameron: Bodhidharma, there’s a, there’s a number of traditions around Kung, Fu, and Bodhidharma.

[00:50:42] Cameron: One is the, there, there’s a 17th century story found in a manual called the Yi Jin Jing, which is a series of exercises, um, breathing exercises, stretching exercises, strengthening exercises that, um, according to tradition, Bodhidharma either introduced into Shaolin or left behind when he left Shaolin, or when he died.

[00:51:15] Cameron: There’s various versions of the story. One popular version is that when he went to Shaolin, he did, he found the monks were all sort of weak and unhealthy. So he introduced all of these strengthening exercises to them, and that became the foundation of Kung Fu. Another tradition is that he died and they found this book of stretching exercises, breathing, strengthening in his grave or amongst his uh, things.

[00:51:49] Cameron: Or another one is that he left and he left it behind and they found it in his room. And according to those traditions, it was written in Sanskrit, which none of the monks understood. And there is a story that one monk took. The book and traveled around China looking for someone to translate it. He eventually found a monk at another monastery who could translate the Sanskrit, but he said, it’s, it’s too complicated to just translate.

[00:52:20] Cameron: You need to stay here in the monastery and we will work through it together. And the monk did. And after 100 days of practicing, he became quite strong. In the next 100 days, his entire body had received the full benefit. And the third 100 days, his constitution became as hard as steel. And he felt he could be a Buddha.

[00:52:42] Cameron: He was ripped. He was, he was Shah, Rukh, Khan ripping his shirt off. Yeah. Arms stretched out. Yeah. Yeah. Um, but historians tend to doubt, uh, the story. Most modern historians seem to think that this Xi Jinping was. Composed by a Taoist priest called Xi Ning in the early 16 hundreds. Um, which is kinda surprising because it’s associated with a Buddhist monastery.

[00:53:12] Cameron: And he was a Taoist and he wrote one of the prefaces, I think, to one of the earliest known publications of this. And, and they think that even though he was attributing it to Bodhidharma that he may have actually written the whole thing himself. Um, there’s a, there was, uh, a Japanese martial arts scholar called Ryushu Matsuda who said that the earliest surviving edition of the Yixing Jing was 1827.

[00:53:41] Cameron: And in the course of his research, he couldn’t find any mention of it or of Bodhidharma before the 19th century. Bodhidharma’s association with it before the 19th century. So it seems like it may be mythology, but on the flip side, Bodhidharma came from India and these monks were not the healthiest. It’s possible that he introduced them to some form of yoga practice, stretching and breathing may have had nothing to do with, um, you know, martial arts as such, but the basis in yoga, which then suggests that maybe, you know, martial arts, as we think of it, kung fu comes from yoga practices originally.

[00:54:30] Chrissy: Don’t you remember though, we looked up yoga and what we know about yoga is like, it’s kind of new. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, yeah. Out of like California or something. Didn’t you read that? Yeah. So like, what is that, what, what is the historical basis of that? Yeah, it’s kind, I think it’s, it’s probably pretty shaky.

[00:54:48] Chrissy: Yeah. But, um, I think that. We have to look, we have to do a fact

[00:54:53] Cameron: check on that. Yeah. The history of, okay. I’ll make that a note for the next one. What’s the history of yoga? That’ll be another series. Yoga fused, not yogurt fused. Oh, but I’m Ching because you make your own yogurt every night pretty much. I do.

[00:55:10] Cameron: And you’re not confused about that. You do a bloody good job. Thanks. Bruce Lee was a student of China, as I said, and he studied at your old university, UW, university of Washington, a little bit before you got there. Um, I was reading earlier today an edition of Black Belt Magazine from November, 1967 when they were asking the question, this guy who plays Kato in the Green Hornet TV show.

[00:55:41] Cameron: Can he really do kung-fu or is he just faking it? Uh, because no one knew who Bruce Lee was in 1967, he was on this TV show, but that was it. And so they, they, they did, uh, two editions, I think October and November. They were, did some big sort of, a lot of coverage on Bruce and they were like, oh no, he’s the real deal.

[00:56:01] Cameron: And they went and watched him train and they talked about his Jeet Kune Do schools that he was running. And, uh, they talked about Yip man and Wing Chung and all this kind of stuff. But there’s a quote from Bruce in this In-six-si-seven magazine. He said, the best illustration is something I borrowed from Chan or Zen Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick, just like a kick.

[00:56:27] Cameron: After I learned the art, a punch is no longer a punch. A kick is no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch. A kick is just like a kick.

[00:56:40] Chrissy: How do you, what do you make out of that?

[00:56:44] Cameron: Well, um, a couple of things. So this is, uh, uh, sort of a reframing of an old Zen, uh, saying, which is before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water after enlightenment, chop wood carry water.

[00:57:01] Cameron: Mm-Hmm. And the way I’ve always understood that is, you know, when you know, okay, before enlightenment, before you study philosophy, you don’t think about it. You chop wood, you carry water. When you start. Studying philosophy, you start pulling concepts apart and constructs apart. And you start thinking, okay, well if it’s all the oneness, what is the wood and what is the water and how am I separate from the wood and the water?

[00:57:29] Cameron: And you start to sort of,

[00:57:32] Chrissy: you, you, you totally deconstruct it all.

[00:57:35] Cameron: Exactly. You have to. Yeah. That’s what, you know, the process of Zen is, or, or non-duality is all about. It’s about deconstructing the constructs, the mental constructs you have about the nature of identity and your place in the world and, and deeply thinking it through and trying to dispel yourself of the illusions that you’ve probably had since you were a child.

[00:57:58] Cameron: And then once you’ve been through that process. You’re just accepting the, the, the nature of the, the perception of reality as being the perception of reality. And so you just go back to chop wood, carry water. You’re in the moment, you’re doing what needs to be done. Mm-Hmm. You don’t have to analyze it anymore.

[00:58:19] Cameron: You don’t have to think about it. Like there’s, there’s this old zen, you know, heard of a koan, K-O-A-N.

[00:58:26] Chrissy: Yes. Because you’ve told me about it. Yeah. There’s, I was about to say there’s a word for that. Right, right. A minute ago.

[00:58:32] Cameron: Yeah. Well, it’s probably not a koan. Koans were, I think primarily a, a Japanese, um, riddle invention.

[00:58:42] Cameron: Yeah. Riddles designed to kind of break your brain and, uh, in different ways that might help lead to, uh, an enlightenment experience, break narratives. Yeah. So there was, I think one of the ones that comes to mind is there was, um. Uh, you know, two monks that were being interviewed by the Zen Master and in he said there was a, a flag waving in the wind.

[00:59:09] Cameron: He said, is that flag, uh, waving or not waving? And one, um, monk said, it’s not waving. There is no flag. There is no wind. It’s all the oneness. And the monk hit him on the head with a stick, and the other one said, uh, the flag is waving. It is in the wind. It’s all real. And he hit him on the head with a stick.

[00:59:29] Cameron: That’s the story.

[00:59:31] Chrissy: And you have to try to make sense of it somehow when it

[00:59:35] Cameron: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, my interpretation of that would be they’re both stuck in the concepts like in a classic Zen koan. The one who would get away with it would be the one that would just walk up and kick over the water bowl and walk a bowl of water and walk out the room.

[00:59:51] Cameron: Mm-Hmm. Refuses to engage in conceptual constructs. The famous story of the Buddha, um. Who he passed his, uh, um, mantle onto. He was sitting around before he died with a bunch of his disciples, and they’re asking questions. He was asking them questions about the nature of reality, and they were, they were all giving him different sort of answers.

[01:00:12] Cameron: And he gets to one disciple who just picks up a flower. And he was the guy that the Buddha passed his, um, mantle onto when he died, or the, the cloak of invisibility or whatever it was that he had Favorite student award. Yeah. Student of the month, yeah. Award. Yeah. Because he just, he cut through the bullshit.

[01:00:33] Cameron: He cut through the concepts and, you know, demonstrated that he wasn’t buying into any conceptual constructs by just picking up a flower

[01:00:41] Chrissy: and probably regurgitating language. Yes. You know, regurgitating language and Yeah.

[01:00:47] Cameron: And then in the Dao of Jeet Kune Do, which is a book I read a little while ago that.

[01:00:54] Cameron: Uh, came out after Bruce died, but it was sort of, um, based on all of his notes and his notebooks and things that he was compiling to write a book. He never got around to it before he died. He actually quotes, uh, the Xin Xin Ming, which has been a favorite of mine since Bob introduced me to it when I was 19 or 20, written by Xiong Shan, who was the third patriarch of Chan.

[01:01:22] Cameron: So Bodhidharma passed it on to Hui Ke and Hui Ke passed it on to Xiong Shan, and it’s this great sort of long. Um, prose poem about non-duality, but Bruce in the Dao of Jikendo quotes, the opening of it the perfect way is only difficult for those who pick and choose. Do not like, do not dislike. All then will be clear, make a hairbreadth difference, and heaven and earth are set apart.

[01:01:54] Cameron: If you want the truth to stand clear before you never be for or against the struggle between, for and against is the mind’s worst disease.

[01:02:05] Chrissy: Mm-Hmm. So I should say that, um, I was introduced to a lot of these ideas weirdly before, way before I started Kung Fu, probably like in, I don’t know, 2000. 13 or maybe when Fox was born.

[01:02:27] Chrissy: 14. Um, but I was listening to, um, Shannon Lee’s podcast. Bruce’s daughter. Yes. What was that podcast

[01:02:35] Cameron: called? Be Like Water? No, I don’t know. I can’t remember.

[01:02:43] Chrissy: I think it was just called the Bruce Lee Podcast. Maybe could have been.

[01:02:46] Cameron: Yeah. Um, it’s like 10 years ago, 11 years ago. But I listened to

[01:02:49] Chrissy: the whole thing because I had this natural in interest in this philosophy.

[01:02:57] Chrissy: Mm-Hmm. And I loved it. And you know, I was early years sobriety at that time, just eating it up. Really curious. But, um, yeah, it’s really interesting that that little tidbit is interesting to me. Yeah. I’d boned up a little bit on this philosophy years ago before I ever even thought, huh, I should do that.

[01:03:19] Cameron: Yeah. Yeah. And when I suggested we would do Wing Chung, um, you didn’t even know about the connection between Bruce and Wing. Chung and Yip Man or any of that

[01:03:30] Chrissy: kind of stuff. Yeah. Because I don’t catalogue little facts

[01:03:35] Cameron: like you do. No, you’re not a nerd about that kind of stuff. Yeah. If it was violin, classical music, yeah.

[01:03:43] Chrissy: I can, I know my stuff. That’s

[01:03:45] Cameron: my, Chris is a violin teacher, has been her whole life. Have

[01:03:49] Chrissy: I have you, you think My whole life has been the years I’ve been with you.

[01:03:56] Cameron: You were a violin teacher before you met me. Habit. Oh yeah. Yeah. Just joking. Yes. Well, I’m in your sim you’re not in mine, so That’s right. Yeah.

[01:04:06] Cameron: It is my sim I already know about evidence about in real life, what you tell me. So Bodhidharma is the subject of many legends as well, um, along with Zen and Kung Fu. He supposedly brought tea to China. So this is a great story. This is like

[01:04:23] Chrissy: a Bollywood film. It is. He he, he, he did it all. It’s like Triple R, like come on.

[01:04:27] Chrissy: Yeah. Yeah. He started kung-fu He invented

[01:04:31] Cameron: tea. Yeah. But the story is great. So he, um, when he got to Shaolin, no one was interested in his teachings of Chan Buddhism. ’cause they, they were traditional Mahayana, Buddhism, you know, studying the scriptures, that kind of stuff. He was like, you don’t need all, you don’t need all that.

[01:04:52] Cameron: You know, you just need to get straight to the truth. So he went and found a cave nearby where he decided to sit and meditate, searching for enlightenment himself. And the, the, the story is that he sat in this cave all day, every day for years. I. And then, uh, at one point during the summer, he started to get tired and he felt his eyes drooping.

[01:05:17] Cameron: So he took a knife and cut his eyelids off so he wouldn’t sleep as you do as you do. And he threw his eyelids on the ground and where they fell, tea trees grew from them. And the monks who drank the tea from the tea trees discovered that it kept them awake when they were meditating. So that’s where, that’s how tea came to China is the story.

[01:05:44] Chrissy: That would’ve been the coolest drug

[01:05:46] Cameron: since. Yeah. What were they on? They were super high. Um, but, uh, there’s this other great story about his, uh, which is by the way, sorry. So all of the depictions you see of Bodhidharma, he’s always got big bulging eyes, partly because he was from India. Um, and partly because he didn’t have any eyelids ’cause he cut them off according to tradition.

[01:06:12] Cameron: I’m just thinking of

[01:06:13] Chrissy: Kenan Thompson right now.

[01:06:17] Cameron: Kenan Thompson eyes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh. Uh, that’d be, it’d be funny if they made a film about Bodhi Dharma and they cast Kenan Thompson. Oh, he would be so good. Yeah. Yeah. He just does the eyes. Yeah. And they’re like, that guy has no eyelids. He must have cut them off.

[01:06:35] Cameron: Passed me another cup of tea. So this other great story, uh, one that I remember reading about when I was very young is eventually, um, a young guy approached Bodhi Dharma in his cave and said he wanted to be his student. His disciple, Bodhi Dharma taught him to go away. Um, apparently this kid had a background in either traditional Buddhism or Taoism and Bodhi Dharma didn’t think he was serious enough.

[01:07:00] Cameron: So, um, according to one tradition, Bodhi Dharma said he would only take him. When the heavens turned, the snow red and so the guy cut his arm off and the blood turned the snow red. So Bodhidharma figured he was serious and took him in. Um, and then when he was bandaging up his arm said, let’s not be so fucking dramatic next time.

[01:07:31] Cameron: I see. Like

[01:07:32] Chrissy: you actually, it, it really helps to have two arms. Yeah. When you do this kung

[01:07:38] Cameron: fu, you could have just like. Sliced your palm open or something. Yeah. He goes, dude, you cut your eyelids off. Like, who are you to talk? He goes, yeah, fair point, fair point. You got me here. All right. Let’s just say from now on, no one cuts anything off.

[01:07:52] Cameron: Yeah. Can we just agree on that? No more

[01:07:54] Chrissy: cutting. But we got tea from my eyelids. So what do you have? Yeah,

[01:07:57] Cameron: what do you bring to the table? Let’s just bury the knives. That’s what I’m saying. Let’s get rid of the knives. Yeah. I don’t think we can be trusted around sharp. No sharp objects. Sharp

[01:08:06] Chrissy: implements.

[01:08:07] Chrissy: That is why it’s hand-to-hand.

[01:08:10] Cameron: Hand to hand combat. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They couldn’t be trusted around sharp objects. Um, the other story about this young guy is he said to Bodhidharma, my mind is not at peace. Please pacify it for me. Bring your mind here and I’ll pacify it for you said Bodhidharma. I’ve searched for my mind.

[01:08:30] Cameron: The kid said, but I cannot find it anywhere. I have now completely pacified your mind for you said Bodhidharma. Perfect. Perfect. Yeah, that’s, that’s a good con non duality teaching in one hit, right? Mm-Hmm. If you can’t find the mind, ignore it. Yeah. You’ve, yeah. See through it or you’re crazy, or that you’ve lost your mind.

[01:08:55] Cameron: So this student, when Bodhidharma died in, um, 5 28, according to some sources, he was poisoned by a jealous monk. Uh, he passed, uh, his, his mantle as the Patriarch of Chan Buddhism onto this one armed monk, um, who became the second Patriarch of Chan Buddhism. He probably was a guy that just had one arm and somebody said to him one day, why do you only have one arm?

[01:09:29] Cameron: And he told him this story. Shit-faced drunk at the time.

[01:09:33] Chrissy: Yeah. Or like just total

[01:09:35] Cameron: bullshitting. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like, Hey, watch this. He said to this young guy. Yeah. So I cut my arm off and, you know, yeah. A thousand years later, people still believe the story. Yep. Um, there is, in, at Shaolin, there’s a stele, like a stone tablet thing with an inscription dated 7 28.

[01:10:00] Cameron: So about 200 years after Bodhidharma supposedly died. And it talks about Bodhidharma having lived at on the mountain. And there’s another dated 7 98 that has Huy Khe chopping his arm off. So two to 250 years after these things apparently happened, they’re being, uh, recorded at Shaolin. That’s the earliest evidence that we have of these stories.

[01:10:32] Cameron: Hmm. That’s a long time. 200, 250 years. Oh, yeah. Um, but the suggestion that these stories were at least around that Shaolin couple hundred years later, those stories are really old stories. One final story, legend has it, that after Bodhidharma’s death, uh, Chinese monk is travelling somewhere in, in middle Asia, and he meets Bodhidharma walking down the road with carrying a sandal in his hand.

[01:11:09] Cameron: No sandal on, no sandals on his feet. He’s carrying one sandal in his hand. The guy asks him where he’s going, and he says he’s returning to India. The guy rushes to Shaolin, they dig up Bodhidharma’s grave, and it’s empty except for one sandal.

[01:11:28] Chrissy: What

[01:11:37] Chrissy: I mean,

[01:11:37] Cameron: the relevance of that, I’m not quite sure. It

[01:11:42] Chrissy: really sounds like some weird Christian story that I would’ve heard growing up. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it

[01:11:50] Cameron: does. It just has all that. Well, it’s a good reason for that. The stories are stories. Humans make up stories and why that story? Maybe somebody robbed his body out of the grave and that was the story they came up with to explain it.

[01:12:02] Cameron: Mm-Hmm. Wouldn’t be the first example of grave robbery in history. Him and Jesus both disappeared from their graves. Yeah. People had to make up stories to explain it. Um, but I just wanna finish by saying that some scholars think that Chan Buddhism actually was a, an example of syncretism syncretism. Is what they call it when two cultures with two religions meet and sort of start swapping spit.

[01:12:33] Cameron: Mm-Hmm. French kissing Religions or philosophies. Yeah. Yeah.

[01:12:38] Chrissy: Um, Intertwining

[01:12:40] Cameron: ideas. Yes. Um, DT Suzuki very famous, uh, Japanese, uh, Scholar of Zen Buddhism said the Chan was a natural evolution of Buddhism under Taoist conditions. ’cause it has a lot of similarities with Taoism. The other examples, uh, uh, of syncretism that I always think about is stoicism.

[01:13:06] Cameron: And Epicureanism emerged in Athens in, you know, around about 300 CE after Alexander the Great had taken his armies to India. And then they went back to Greece and sort of took a little bit of Indian philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, and merged it with Greek philosophy. And then they had Stoicism and Epicureanism and vice versa.

[01:13:32] Cameron: Cross-pollination. Cross-pollination. Yeah. Or swapping. Spit. I like better, but sure. If you wanna be dry and boring about it, you can call it that. You’re

[01:13:40] Chrissy: like French kissing. Yeah. With the tongues.

[01:13:44] Cameron: Tongues or tongs instead of Chinese reference. Yeah. Um, Bruce Lee, at the end of this 19 sixty-seven article said seven 700 million Chinese can’t all be Wong.

[01:13:56] Cameron: No, we’re talking about Kung Fu. He did not. He did. Wow. Yeah. He made a Chinese joke. Would’ve got cancelled if he did that today. Anyway, um, the, uh. Where was I going with that? Oh, cross-pollination on the, on the other side of it, before Alexander went to China, uh, sorry. Before he went to India, they never had physical depictions of Buddha, you know, little fat man, uh, Buddha statues.

[01:14:25] Cameron: They didn’t do that. Buddha was only depicted as like footprints on the sand. There was no human character of Buddha in India before the Greeks. But then the Greeks came with all their statues of Apollo and Zeus, et cetera, et cetera. And, um, the Indians went, oh yeah, right? Statues, you can book, you can do statues.

[01:14:50] Cameron: Shit. How do we not figure that out for the last 2000 years? Let’s do that. Um, and of course, uh, Christianity, uh, I think is a syncretism between, um, agricultural mystery religions, uh, that, you know, sort of came out of ancient Greece and out of Egypt. And Judaism. This is this, I think, very strong evidence that, uh, the, the, the Eucharist tradition eat this bread.

[01:15:19] Cameron: It is my body drink this wine, it is my blood. Mm-Hmm. Which according to the writings of St. Paul is a tradition that he was given. So it goes back, makes no sense from the perspective of Judaism. Makes perfect sense from the perspective of agrarian mystery cults that were very popular in the Roman Empire around about the first century CE.

[01:15:42] Cameron: ’cause when you, the cults of Dionysus of Isis and Osiris, the gods of the grain, the gods of the grape, when you eat bread, you are literally eating the body of the grain. God, uh, Isis or Osiris. When you drink wine, you are literally drinking the body of the grape God Dionysus.

[01:16:03] Chrissy: Yeah. That thread is in there.

[01:16:05] Cameron: Yeah. It seems really obvious. From an agrarian mystery, cult perspective, and it just sort of syncretized Paul or somebody before Paul Syncretized it into this Judaic, uh, thing that he was doing. And, um, boom. Shaka like a boom. Christianity. You got it. Mm-Hmm. Let’s go with a little bit of a shake. The Yi Yeah.

[01:16:28] Cameron: Cup. Yes. Double sixes. Let’s go. Yeah. All right. That is the first episode of Confused. When we come back next time, we’re gonna be more confused. Well think we even more if you weren’t confused at the start of this.

[01:16:44] Chrissy: Yeah. We

[01:16:45] Cameron: were all over the place. No, we were. There was a lovely, logical progression there.

[01:16:50] Cameron: Okay. Don’t tell me how to Oh, I came up with a term from I’m a podcast story. Oh,

[01:16:57] Chrissy: that is good.

[01:16:58] Cameron: A Pod. I think I just invented that. Cool. I’m a podcast story. What am I? The wife of a pod Castorian. Oh wow. But after we finish this series, you can, you can put that on your business card as well. Podcast story.

[01:17:14] Cameron: It’s

[01:17:14] Chrissy: so bonkers to me that A, I do can food. Oh, it’s like, who? Who’s this? What? Yeah. And then b, that I’m doing a history podcast. What?

[01:17:28] Cameron: You’ve corrupted me by getting me to put chili on everything.

[01:17:32] Chrissy: Yeah. There there’s been a cross pollination with

[01:17:34] Cameron: us too. Yeah. And a lot of spit swapping. True Speaking of

[01:17:38] Chrissy: which, it’s almost 11

[01:17:41] Cameron: P.M.

[01:17:41] Cameron: Yeah. Thanks for listening. Bye.

World’s Faster Supercomputer

I just stumbled on this old post of mine from 2008 where I predicted that a supercomputer would be faster than a human brain by 2012.

This was based on Hans Moravec’s suggestion that the human brain has a processing capacity of 10 quadrillion instructions per second (10 PFLOPS).

At the time I said:

In comparison, it was announced today that the fastest supercomputer in the world, called Roadrunner and devised and built by engineers and scientists at I.B.M. and Los Alamos National Laboratory, is capable of handling 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second (1.026 PFLOPS).

As of 2012, the world’s fastest supercomputer was the “Titan,” a Cray XK7 system installed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Titan achieved a performance level of 17.59 petaFLOPS (quadrillions of calculations per second). So I was right – it was almost twice as fast as the estimate of the human brain.

But compare that to the fastest supercomputer in the world right now which is the Frontier system out of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) which can achieve 1.194 Eflop/s (Quintillions of FLOPS).

Both terms, PFLOPS and Eflop/s, refer to a unit of computing performance. The acronym FLOPS stands for “FLoating point Operations Per Second,” which is a measure of a computer’s performance, especially in fields of scientific calculations that make heavy use of floating-point calculations.

“P” in PFLOPS stands for peta, which is 10^15, and “E” in Eflop/s stands for exa, which is 10^18. Therefore, 1 PFLOPS equals 10^15 FLOPS, and 1 Eflop/s equals 10^18 FLOPS.

So, if we translate these units:

  • 10 PFLOPS = 10 * 10^15 FLOPS = 10^16 FLOPS
  • 1.194 Eflop/s = 1.194 * 10^18 FLOPS

Therefore, 1.194 Eflop/s is significantly larger than 10 PFLOPS, more precisely it is 1.194*10^2 or about 119.4 times faster than the human brain.

Of course, we’re talking about supercomputers here, but today a single Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 chip (retails for about AUD$3000) can achieve a performance of 69.7 teraflops (TFLOPS), which makes the human brain about 143 times faster than a single 4090 – in terms of pure processing speed. But string tens of thousands 4090’s together, and you get ChatGPT.

I went on in my old post to wonder why there wasn’t more talk about AI in the mainstream media and by world governments. Then I said

It reminds me of a chat I had with Australian SF author Damien Broderick over dinner about ten years ago. I asked him when he thought these subjects would be discussed by the general populace. He replied “when it’s way too late to do anything about it”.

And look at us now, running around like chickens with our head chopped off trying to work out how to regulate AI. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The Ten Things (I measure my success on)

Talking to my old mate and new co-host Steve Sammartino this morning on our Futuristic podcast, I mentioned the topic of a talk I’ve given a few times over the years and also of a book I’m working on. It’s “The Ten Things”. These are the ten things I have developed of the years that I measure my personal success on.

I realised a long, long time ago, that success, for me, isn’t about money or fame (although there’s nothing inherently wrong with those things). Personally I see success more in terms of the complete picture of my life.

I remember reading Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” when I was about 20, and he had a really impactful exercise about his principal / habit of “Start With The End In Mind”. He suggested you should think about your own funeral and what you wanted people – family, friends, colleagues, members of the community – to say about you when you’re gone. Start with that – the legacy you want to leave behind – and then work backwards to determine what kind of life you want to live in order to justify those funeral orations.

My ten things isn’t really about my funeral, but about how I feel when I wake up every day. I’ve had times in my life when I’ve had money, and times when I haven’t, and I know that money isn’t really a factor in how I feel about my contribution as a human. It’s nice to have some financial security, but I wouldn’t trade any of the other nine things for money. I remember working at Microsoft and feeling like I was wasting my life. Sure, I had a nice house and a nice car and got to do lots of travel, but I felt like I was just spinning my wheels. Then podcasting came along, something I could really sink my teeth into, and while it didn’t come with the same kind of financial security as a regular job (although, we all know, jobs aren’t very secure either), I got way more enjoyment and fulfilment out of it than I ever did out of an office job.

Here’s my list, in no particular order (although money is at the bottom). YMMV.

PEACE: Do I have good peace of mind?
JOY: Am I generally happy with my life?
HEALTH: Am I relatively healthy for my age?
LOVE: Am I in a loving, exciting, fulfilling relationship?
KIDS: Do I have a positive, loving relationship with my children?
FRIENDS: Do I have enough healthy friendships to fulfil my needs?
WORK: Is the work that I am doing fulfilling and leaving a positive impact on the world?
BALANCE: Am I happy with how I balance my time between work and family, friends and hobbies?
IMPACT: Am I contributing in some way to make society better?
MONEY: Do I earn enough money to have financial security?

When Retailers Suck

I recently had to buy some tech.

I tried to support my local Aussie retailer and my experience was terrible.

Umart sent me a follow up email and asked if I was happy with my customer support experience. Here’s my reply:

Well, since you asked… You guys really sucked. I bought a new MacBook recently and discovered my Wavlink HDD docking station didn’t work on the M2 chip. So I needed to buy a new one. After getting nowhere trying to find out that was guaranteed to work on Google, I reached out to you guys. 

Maria completely misunderstood my question and sent me a dud answer. So I sent her a second email, which she couldn’t answer until she checked with her “technical team”. Meanwhile, two days passed before I got a final answer from her, which was that she couldn’t help me, but she did point me to a unit on Scorptec’s site, which she said “should work”, but that’s not what I needed. 

In the meantime, I had gone to MSY in Brendale, where I’ve been a long-time customer, only to discover the original owners had sold out to you guys. I told the guys in the store about my problem. They basically told me they didn’t use Macs so they had no idea. I asked if I bought one of their docking stations, and it didn’t work, if I could return it. They said that was a hard no. 

So… I bought reached out to a couple of the manufacturers of other units being sold on Amazon. They both said their units would work. I bought a FIDECO unit, it was delivered within 24 hours, and did NOT work, so I returned it to Amazon for an immediate refund. Then I ordered a UNITEK unit from Amazon which DID work, so I’m happy. With Amazon. And Unitek. 

So I guess I’ll be ordering all of my tech from Amazon from now on and telling my friends and my audience about my experience, too. 

The End of Life Of Caesar

Nine years ago today, Ray Harris and I started our podcast about Julius Caesar. Every month since then (that’s 108 months and roughly 400 hour long episodes in case you’re wondering), we’ve told stories about the Julio-Claudians (aka the Caesars – Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero) in insane detail. And today – it ends. We have published the last episode of Nero and that’s the end of the line for this series. We’ve officially hung up our togas.

I didn’t know Ray from a bar of soap when we started nine years ago… and I still don’t. And don’t care to. Kidding. He’s been a joy to work with over nine years and we continue to work together on our series about the Cold War, the Renaissance, and the Bullshit Filter.

This series has been the hardest I’ve ever worked on anything. It taught me a whole new way of working. For many years, I would spend all day working on my ‘real’ job, and then at night, after dinner, I would sit down with my books and make notes for several hours a night (usually from about 8pm – midnight). I’d do that five nights a week, then record the next day, take a couple of nights off, and then start the process all over again. FOR YEARS and YEARS. It was only when I could afford to shut down my day job that I could work less in the evenings and do more of it during the daytime.

Fortunately, I loved the work, and Ray and I had a ton of fun doing it. We’ve learned a lot, we’ve laughed, we’ve loved… we’ve travelled across Europe and the USA, Ray’s been to Australia with his family… it’s been a wild ride. And it consumed up nearly a fifth of my life. It’s the longest “job” I’ve ever had…. sitting in my undies, making Ray wet his pants.

Thanks to everyone who has been on the journey with us, especially to those who have supported us financially. We couldn’t have kept it going without you. And thanks to our spouses, who don’t LISTEN to the show (thank god), but allowed us to do work on it, despite it seeming like the greatest waste of time and energy for many years.

And here it is.

RIP Mick Stanic

I’m coming up to the 18th anniversary of G’Day World in a couple of weeks. It was my first podcast, and the first Australian podcast ever. Blah blah blah. But I was shocked tonight to learn that the guy I started it with, and then started the world first podcast network with a few months later, Miroslav Mick Stanic, passed away in early 2020 at the age of 51. Apparently he had early onset dementia. 

Mick and I were introduced by my old Microsoft mate Frank Arrigo at some point after I left Microsoft in July 2004. We would catch up for breakfast from time to time. When I mentioned on my old Typepad blog that I was thinking about starting an Australian tech podcast, Mick put up his hand to help. And I couldn’t have done it without him. I knew nothing about how to host an mp3 on a website. And as he was living in Sydney at the time, the two of us had to figure out how to record a Skype call and edit it together. There wasn’t any software to record Skype calls in those days and nobody had done it before, so we had to kludge something together using sticky tape and string. 

Together we innovated and developed the podcasting medium. We were the first to record a podcast over Skype, the first to start a podcast network in February 2005, the first people to ever sell advertising on a podcast (I’m sorry) and the first people to record podcast interviews. It was a crazy, exciting time. 

Sadly the relationship didn’t last very long. We parted ways a year later and that was the last time I spoke to him or heard anything about him. So when I had the urge to look him up tonight, to see what he was up to, and maybe record a special reunion podcast, I was shocked to learn of his passing, and doubly shocked that nobody had told me about it. 

Old podcasting colleagues from the early days of TPN like Ewan Spence and Wayne Turmel might also want to make a toast to him. 

So… cheers, Mick. Thanks for everything. Our brief friendship really was a catalyst in my life. 

The Leaf

Once upon a time there was a leaf on a tree.

One fine day, the leaf became conscious and started to ask questions about itself and the meaning of life. It enjoyed the experience of being alive.

But here’s something you probably didn’t know about leaves – they can only see the colour green. So the leaf couldn’t see the branch it was attached to, or the main trunk of the tree. It thought it was just floating in the air, independent and free.

After a while, the novelty of being a leaf wore off and the leaf, who was on a lower branch of the tree, looked up and saw there were leaves that were higher up in the air, where they got more sunlight and had a better view of the world.

“I want to be where those leaves are”, the leaf thought to itself. It spoke to some other young leaves who told it that if it just wanted it badly enough, and was prepared to work for it, a leaf could move anywhere it wanted to. After all, those leaves somehow got up there, so why not us? We are just as deserving.

So the young leaf decided to work hard to improve its circumstances. It would focus all of its energy on moving higher up in the air. Now, sometimes, when it focused hard, the leaf could feel itself moving and thought it was succeeding. It didn’t understand that the movement was the result of the wind blowing. But other times when it focused hard, the wind didn’t blow, and the leaf was frustrated with its lack of progress. After a while, the leaf got depressed.

“Life’s not fair,” it would think. “I suck at being a leaf. I’m a bad, stupid, unworthy leaf. I don’t believe in myself enough. Nobody will ever love me.”

One day, it got talking to another, older, wiser leaf.

“You seem happy,” said the young leaf to the wise, old leaf. “What is your secret?”

“The secret, young leaf, is to know that you are connected to all other leaves by a tree,” said the wise leaf. “In fact, you ARE the tree.”

“What is this tree you speak of?” Asked the young leaf.

“It’s the invisible framework that connects us all and gives us life” said the wise leaf.

“But how do I get to be one of those higher leaves?” asked the young leaf.

“You are ALL of the leaves,” replied the wise leaf. “You are the entire tree. You are just one node of consciousness in the entire tree of life.”

“I understand that you are probably right in theory,” said the young leaf, “but how does that help me? How can I be happy?”

“Accept that you are the tree and enjoy the experience of also being a leaf,” said the wise leaf. “It won’t last forever.”

“But I can think fro myself,” said the young leaf. “Surely that means I am free to do whatever I choose.”

“Thinking and choosing are just chemical events generated by the tree,” said the wise leaf. “Like photosynthesis. Do you think you are free to photosynthesize?”

“No, but I’m not aware of the photosynthesis,” said the young leaf. “It just happens.”

“Exactly,” said the wise leaf. “You are aware of your thinking, so you think you are in control of it. But it’s really the same process as the photosynthesis. Both are just chemical events happening to the tree. Accept you are the tree, and everything will become clear and life will be simple, free from stress and anxiety.”

But the young leaf couldn’t see the tree, so it refused to accept what the wise leaf said. Leafs, like people, can only hear when they are ready to hear.

“If I accept what you’re saying, I would be miserable,” said the young leaf. “That would mean I’m stuck being a lower leaf. It seems like a defeatist, fatalist philosophy.”

“On the contrary,” replied the wise leaf. “Acceptance of the reality of things is the only path to permanent happiness and peace. Fighting against reality is a certain path to misery.”

But the young leaf was too caught up in its desire to be special, so instead of accepting the truth of the tree, it tried to escape its misery by drinking and binging Netflix, took up obsessively going to the gym, read a lot of books about having a positive mental attitude, eventually becoming angry at itself and bitter at the world, until it finally withered away and died and was replaced with a new leaf.

The tree smiled as the new leaf became conscious and started to ask questions of the other leaves.

Condemned To Repeat It – Chapter 2

ALEXANDER THE GREAT: WHO’S YOUR DADDY?

Everyone has to have someone to look up to for inspiration. Julius Caesar had Alexander The Great. Alexander had probably mythical (but that didn’t matter to the Ancient Greeks) Achilles, the hero of the Trojan War.

Alexander was born in 356 BCE to Philip, the king of Macedonia, a bit of a backwater in the collection of impressive city-states we know today as Greece. Until Philip came along, Macedonia had been a bit of a joke, getting sand kicked in its face by the larger, richer city-states of the day – Athens, Sparta, Thebes and even foreign invaders such as Persia. Philip changed all of that. Sent to Thebes, then the greatest city in Greece, as a VIP hostage (sons of lesser foreign kings were often taken as glorified hostages to make sure the lesser king kept his vow of loyalty, but they were raised in the royal court of their captors and general treated very well) as a young man, he studied under their greatest generals and learned the arts of war. When he finally ascended to the throne of Macedonia, he invested heavily in improving their military capability. He then used his new army to conquer other relatively weak city-states and take their natural resources, which, in turn, helped him further invest in building his military capability. And so on and so forth.

His biggest contribution to warfare was the introduction of his phalanx infantry corps wielding ridiculously long spears (some might even suggest he was compensating for something, like men who buy sports cars and throw a personalised number plate on them) known as the sarissa. The sarissa was about 4–6 metres (13–20 ft) in length and weighed approximately 5.5 kg (12 lb) to 6.5 kg (14 lb). They were made of wood, with a sharp iron head shaped like a leaf on the pointy end, and a bronze butt-spike on the other end, which could be jammed into the ground to stabilise the spear in the event of an enemy charge. To begin to imagine what fighting a Macedonian phalanx was like, imagine having a regular sword and trying to fight someone holding a broomstick 2-3 times the length of a very tall person with a sharp pointy bit on the end.

Now imagine fighting 256 men each holding a sarissa, in a densely packed formation of 16 files with 16 men in each file, who had been drilled over and over to be able to swing quickly and accurately in unison, front, back, left, right. The sarissa was so long that, when deployed, there were five rows of pointy bits protruding from the phalanx in front of the first row of men. So even if your horse managed, somehow, to avoid the first row of pointy bits, there was no freaking way it was going to get anywhere close to the troops.

Philip used this new phalanx to conquer or demand submission (just by giving them a hard stare with his one remaining eye, having lost the other to an arrow during a battle) of most of the Greek city-states, unifying them into a league with himself as the top dog, with the intention of taking a massive, unified Greek force to conquer Persia, as payback for a succession of earlier Persian invasions of Greece.

Unfortunately, before he could fulfil that ambition, he was assassinated at the age of 46, supposedly by a jilted homosexual lover, possibly planned by one of his many wives, Olympias, and his son to Olympias – Alexander. There’s no real evidence to confirm that ancient suspicion, but it’s quite possible, as both Olympias and Alexander had tension with Philip due to his taking of a new Macedonian wife (his seventh) who, it was said, would bear him a true heir to the Macedonian throne. Olympias, on the other hand, was from Epirus, so Alexander, of course, was only half-Macedonian.

After his demise, the fragile league of Greek city-states he had put together rebelled. It was up to his 20 year old son and heir, Alexander, to pull them back into line. Fortunately, he had two things going for him – his father’s impressive military machine, and his strategic brilliance as a military commander.

Alexander wasn’t wet behind the ears when he took over his father’s empire, either. At age 18 he had fought alongside his father at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BCE, in command of the left wing, accompanied by a group of Philip’s experienced generals, where he had exterminated the infamous Sacred Band of the Thebans, the elite force of 150 pairs of homosexual lovers. The theory of banding together homosexual lovers was that they would fight to the death to protect their mate. And it worked pretty well – until they faced Philip and Alexander and their phalanx of guys holding massive phallic spears.

He had also been tutored by the most famous philosopher-scientist of his day – the great Aristotle, student of Plato. From Aristotle, Alexander developed a taste for exploration and enquiry that would eventually lead him to explore and conquer two-thirds of the world known to the Greeks of his time.

What made Alexander such a memorable general is that he managed to combine brilliant strategic insight with a willingness to throw himself into the fray. I’ve often wondered what was going through his mind when he put his life on the line, over and over again. My guess is that he saw those situations as a win-win. If he won the battle, often taking on armies many times bigger than his own, and in strange lands with unusual weapons like battle elephants, he knew he would go down in history. If he died in the process, he would also go down in history as fearless warrior, like his personal hero, Achilles, who died during the siege of Troy. Alexander reportedly always kept his personal copy of Homer’s Iliad under his pillow at night – beside a long dagger.

It’s also possible that Alexander believed Philip wasn’t his real father – he was instead sired by a god. There’s a great story in Plutarch that, on the night of Philip’s marriage to Olympias, he found her in bed having some kind of sexual intercourse – with a snake. She was, according to Plutarch, part of a snake-worshiping cult of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility, and was having sexy times with the god Jupiter Ammon, aka Zeus, took the form of the snake to knock Olympias up and father a child who was half-god. This may sound ridiculous to modern ears – and yet there are around two billion Christians on the planet who believe Jesus’s mother, Mary, was impregnated by a god, so Alexander’s story should be given at least as much credence. He, at least, conquered two-thirds of the known world in his lifetime, which attests to his godly abilities. What did Jesus accomplish in his lifetime? To get arrested and executed? Coincidentally, they both are said to have died around the same age.

I have a few favourite stories about Alexander. The first one that comes to mind is the Siege of Malli, which took place at the end of 326 BCE at the location of the city of Multan in modern Pakistan. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for at least 5,000 years.

Getting frustrated at how slowly the siege of the Malliian citadel was proceeding, Alexander, completely ignoring the enemy archers, threw a ladder up agains the wall of the citadel and quickly climbed over it, disappearing from the view of his troops, who were all still on the outside. He was quickly followed only by three of his men, including Peaucestas, who always carried the “Shield of Achilles” (supposedly the actual shield from Troy) for Alexander. We can only imagine how excited the Maliians must have been to have such a stupid enemy! The mighty king Alexander, feared across the world, had thrown himself over the wall, practically alone, making himself an easy target for their arrows!

One of the men who went with him, Abreas, was immediately killed by an arrow to the head. Alexander was also shot by a three-foot long arrow – it somehow entered his chest and protruded out of his fucking neck! He fell to his knees and the Mallian who had shot him ran up to deliver the final blow – but Alexander thrust his sword into the man’s chest, killing him, and then pulled himself upright by holding on to a branch and defied the rest of the Maliians to come and fight him. I like to think of him standing there like Bruce Lee – silent, hand stretched out, just wiggling his fingers at them with the “come here” signal.

Peaucestas wasn’t having any of that shit, and quickly threw the Shield of Achilles over him and turned to face the enemy, ready to protect his general and king for as long as possible.

Of course, Alexander’s men on the outside of the wall were nearly hysterical when their king had done what they had not been brave (or foolish) enough to do, and then quickly followed. Certainly, many died in the process, although I suspect most of the Mallian arches had turned their focus on trying to cut the head off the snake (little did they know who his true father was!).

They catapulted over the wall and saw Alexander lying in a pool of his own blood with a big bloody arrow sticking out of his neck – and they went completely batshit crazy. They slaughtered everyone in the citadel – old men, women and children. It was a complete bloodbath, a mass slaughter.

Now let’s ignore the brutality of that for a moment and think about Alexander. Why would he put his life on the line that that? Was it an act of bravery or stupidity?

Maybe both. Or maybe it was that thing I talked about earlier. Maybe he didn’t care what happened to him in battle, as long as it was glorious. This was a very Macedonian mindset. Alexander wanted to live up to the standard of Achilles (who died by an arrow shot by Paris). He wanted epic poems to be written about him and memorised by Macedonian children for centuries to come. That, perhaps, is what success looked like for Alexander. It wasn’t about money or power. It was about glory. Achieving as much of it as possible during your lifetime – and by glory I mean taking on incredible challenges, rushing headfirst into battle, laughing in the face of your enemies and danger – and dying in the middle of trying to achieve it. Living a glorious life and dying a glorious death.

As it turned out, his death was anything but glorious. He died a few years after the Mallian siege, either from some kind of rapid disease like malaria or from being poisoned by his enemies. We don’t really know. Taking a big fucking arrow through his chest couldn’t have helped, either.

The other story about Alexander that comes to mind is one of his most epic battles – Gaugamela. This took place in 331 BCE close to the modern city of Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan against the “king of kings” of the Persian empire – Darius III. The Persians had the largest and richest empire the world had ever seen and the army to go with it. They had previous invaded Greece a number of times, and now Alexander brought the fight to them. Many thought it was an act of suicide. Having the sarissa was one thing – having to face the full might of the Persian army was another. For a start, they had fucking WAR ELEPHANTS. This was the first time most Greeks had ever seen an elephant, let alone a war elephant. It must have been like facing an enemy who turned up with a battalion of mecha-Godzillas with frikkin’ lasers on their frikkin’ heads.

Not only did they have war elephants, the Persians also had more men – way more men. Alexander brought about 47,000 troops into battle. According to the ancient sources, Darius had somewhere between 250,000 and one million. Modern estimates are more in the range of 90,000 – 120,000, but that’s still a huge advantage. And the Persians had the home ground advantage. They knew the terrain and were more used to the climate. Oh and did I mention they had fucking war elephants?!?

Okay, they only had fifteen war elephants, but still, that’s like fifteen mecha-Godzillas. They also had two hundred chariots with razor-sharp scythes on the wheels, chassis and yoke poles. The idea being you would ram your chariot through the enemy’s infantry, chopping off the legs of anyone who got too close.

Darius, by the way, tried to prevent the battle from even happening. He had already been defeated by Alexander a couple of years earlier at the earlier Battle of Issus, and knew what he was facing. So this time he chose a battlefield that had the two mighty rivers of Mesopotamia, the Euphrates and the Tigris, running between it and the direction that Alexander was approaching from. He sent a force of 5000 men to the first river that had to be crossed, the Euphrates, hoping to prevent Alexander from crossing or, if some of his men did manage to successfully cross while being attack from the opposing bank, weed out his numbers even further. Crossing a deep, wide and torrential river isn’t easy at the best of times and even less so for an ancient army with horses, shields, swords, 8 meter long spears, baggage and who have just marched across a desert to get there, so they have no boats or rafts, except those they can build on the spot, and who are exhausted – from weeks of marching across fucking desert.

Unfortunately for Darius, the roughly 5,000 men he sent to stop Alexander were too smart and they scattered as soon as he approached.

Eventually the two armies lines up on opposite sides of the battlefield, preparing to meet on the following day. On the morning of the battle, Alexander’s soldiers were alarmed that he wasn’t up before dawn, summoning them to his tent to review the day’s battle plans, as he usually did. There had been no sound at all from the king’s tent. Was he dead? Murdered in his sleep? Poisoned? Taken early by the gods? Snake bite? Scorpion?

None of these things – he was fine – in fact, he was dandy. When he was finally roused from his fitful sleep, and informed that Darius’ troops, all one million of them, were already in battle formation, while Alexander’s were still in their pyjamas, he laughed and told his generals that it was all going to be okay. Relax, guys! I’ve got this!

He told them he’d been up late the night before, stressing out over the following day’s battle plan, when, finally, it came to him in a brilliant flash – and then he fell straight to sleep, a deep, deep sleep. Now he was up and confident that his plan was going to work.

“What’s the plan?” they asked?

“Don’t worry about it,” he replied. “You’ll see soon enough.”

Now imagine you’re Darius for a second. You are the king of kings of the mighty Persian empire. This puny young rascal, whose empire is five minutes old, and consists of puny Greeks, but has already somehow, incredibly, defeated your troops once, is now having a nice, old sleep in, while you’ve got your one million troops lined up in neat battle formation – on the first day of October, in Iraq. It’s Autumnal weather, probably getting up around 31-38 degrees Celsius (89 – 100 degrees F) in the middle of the day, so it’s pretty warm. And your men are just standing there, waiting, waiting – for the guy who is sleeping in. Should you attack while your opponent isn’t ready? Or is this some kind of cunning ruse, a trap to lure you in? Surely this Alexander must have something up his sleeve? So you stay in position – and your men are getting hot and restless and tired from standing in formation. No to mention your freaking war elephants.

Eventually Alexander’s puny army of 47,000 appears on the field of Gaugamela. But his formation is all wrong. Instead of putting them in a straight line, Alexander’s forces are in a diamond pattern. In those days, generals would typically put their infantry in the middle of the line, and their cavalry on the wings. Alexander has followed that basic plan, but his cavalry are angled away from the Persian line, like the top of a diamond. Highly unusual. Alexander himself was in the centre, with his sarissa phalanx and his own cavalry division made up of his best and brightest, the Companion Cavalry.

Finally, the battle commences, and the two lines run towards each other. The battle takes places in a flat piece of desert, so there’s dust rising up from the feet of hundreds of thousands of men, horses, chariots and fucking war elephants, making it nearly impossible to see more than a few metres in front of your face.

Suddenly Darius sees Alexander and his right wing, dash to the right away from the battle field! It’s over! The young punk has chickened out! Ahura Mazda, the chief god of the Zarathustran religion, had prevailed and brought his people victory at last over these barbarian Greeks!

Which is exactly what Alexander wanted him to think.

When Darius gave the order to his own left flank to pursue Alexander and make sure he is captured and killed, it opens up a gap in Darius’ line, which Alexander’s phalanx drives open even further with their 8 metre long spears. And as soon as that gap is wide enough, Alexander turns his cavalry sharply ninety degrees and plunges through the gap, straight at Darius. Behind him, his archers hold down Darius’ left wing and prevent them from rushing back in to fill the gap.

Meanwhile, thinking Alexander had abandoned the field, Darius had launched the main body of his forces against Alexander’s left wing, believing his scythed chariots would cut them to pieces. But Alexander had a plan for that, as well. Just before the chariots crashed into Alexander’s infantry line, they parted, like the Red Sea before Moses, creating a gap that allowed the chariots to pass right through. Then, once the chariots had passed through them, the infantry swarmed around them, firing arrows at the backs of the drivers, and they were cut down. Of course this manoeuvre didn’t work in every instance, and, according to the ancient author Diodorus Siculus, the results were horrifying: Such was the keenness and the force of the scythes ingeniously contrived to do harm that they severed the arms of many, shields and all, and in no small number of cases they cut through necks and sent heads tumbling to the ground with the eyes still open and the expression of the countenance unchanged, and in other cases they sliced through ribs with mortal gashes and inflicted a quick death.

Darius, realising almost too late that Alexander was not running away but instead was coming directly towards him, hurriedly ordered his cavalry to block Alexander’s path. When Alexander couldn’t reach Darius to personally kill him with his sword, he is said to have thrown a spear which barely missed Darius, and instead killed the charioteer beside him. Some of the Persians, unable to see clearly thanks to the dust and commotion, thought the king had actually been killed and they panicked, fleeing the field. Others followed in their footsteps and gradually Darius’ guard evaporated. Alexander meanwhile tried to force his way through to the king, using his sarissa phalanx and cavalry to bludgeon what remained of the king’s defences. The king, realising that all was lost, turned and scarpered away from the battle. Alexander chased after him for a while, but eventually turned back to make sure the battle was concluded successfully.

According to one first century author, Curtius, the Persians lost 40,000 men to the Macedonian’s 100 – 1200. Another ancient author, Appian, claims 300,000 Persians were killed. Regardless of the accuracy of those estimates, the result was the same. The Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great over 200 years earlier, was now effectively over. Alexander now ruled Greece and the Persian Empire, which included modern Egypt, Libya, Turkey, and all of the Middle East.

Darius III was captured by one of his own governors, executed, and left in the middle of the road to distract Alexander from pursuit. Alexander took the corpse back to Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire, for an honourable funeral.

So what can we learn from Alexander?

Fortune Favours The Bold

Alexander may have inherited a terrific military machine from Philip, but a lot of his success, especially after he left Greece, had more to do with his bold strategies than the strength of his phalanx alone. His strategy at Gaugalema is my favourite example of that. Facing overwhelmingly larger forces, he did what nobody expected him to do. He thought outside of the box and came up with a plan so crazy it worked. He applied his brains to the situation, rather than rely solely on brawn, or, in this case, the size of his army. All of us find ourselves in situations where we are facing massive odds and it’s tempting to take the path of least resistance, just lie down in front of the steam roller and let it flatten you like a pancake. But maybe we can all try to find a little bit of Alexander in us, and come up with a plan, think our way out of disaster by being bold. Sure – it might not work. But I don’t think Alexander really cared if it worked or not. In his mind, he was either going to live or die like a hero. Of course, statistically speaking, there are probably more people who try bold things, fail, and we never hear about them. We only hear about the ones where the boldness pays off. As Napoleon, someone who admired Alexander and Caesar, said: “Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.” Speaking of Napoleon…

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