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BAXTER PROTEST March 30, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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Illustration: Cathy Wilcox (Sydney Morning Herald – 29/03/2005) Posted by Hello

I have now being weaned off my addiction to television news, but I did see some footage of the struggle between the SA riot police and the protesters on television. I am reliant for my information on the published letter writers to the Sydney Morning, who at least seem opposed to the police action, which included taking action to remove the protesters kites and red balloons.

It is bizarre. The protesters have done an enormous public service to remind us to our shame that we are incarcerating mostly genuine refugees and their children in what effectively are concentration camps. I try to be charitable to people, yet behavior such as this, and its political calculation is both unacceptable and shameful.

Ruddock, as the pretend Attorney-General, and morally emaciated stand-up guy, always seems to get into the act of Howard Government infamy.

BAXTER PROTEST March 29, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights.
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Illustration: Cathy Wilcox (Sydney Morning Herald – 29/03/2005) Posted by Hello

I have now being weaned off my addiction to television news, but I did see some footage of the struggle between the SA riot police and the protesters on television. I am reliant for my information on the published letter writers to the Sydney Morning, who at least seem opposed to the police action, which included taking action to remove the protesters kites and red balloons.

It is bizarre. The protesters have done an enormous public service to remind us to our shame that we are incarcerating mostly genuine refugees and their children in what effectively are concentration camps. I try to be charitable to people, yet behavior such as this, and its political calculation is both unacceptable and shameful.

Ruddock, as the pretend Attorney-General, and morally emaciated stand-up guy, always seems to get into the act of Howard Government infamy.

HUMANIST NIHILISM March 28, 2005

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Here is John Carroll, giving people such as myself a serve. The value of this article is that he has thought a lot about this subject, including at least one book (I have not read). Here it is neatly and tightly summarized providing a challenge to my cloudy precepts as you see in my previous post. I do not have to agree to appreciate his interest and his study.

I do not see myself as a nihilist, nor somebody in particular despair about existence. Nor do I see for example the questions nominated as the great important questions. Nor do I think that modern life is despair blinded by bloated consumption. Mostly my life is pretty crap, especially work, designed as must be by some vicious fool, but there are some sublime moments. Our fellow humans do that to us sometimes. Otherwise there is a case for detachment, and the final solace of death, the view from beyond the grave, to the future and to the past. Then there is the internet, and the freedom it provides from the tyranny of opinion manufacture and it opinionated chatterers. Then again I take these matters pretty superficially.

Except I would say the method of science is fundamental to our world. What I believe, if I can remember exactly what that is, probably do not count because I am not Shakespeare, much less Hamlet. I regard fundamentalism as a disease, on the understanding their is a broad spectrum of possible human behavior. We have to live in the human condition, as the human condition both changes and remains the same.

There are many things I do not understand, and you know how irritating that can be, especially when it comes to specifics. I do not understand the relationship between the genetic component, our psychological selves and our sociological and historical determination. All I know is that the handmill is long way from the computer, and the breakthrough point from the industrial age is a long and tortuous transition, that must be driven by imagination.

HUMANIST NIHILISM March 28, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Philosophy.
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Here is John Carroll, giving people such as myself a serve. The value of this article is that he has thought a lot about this subject, including at least one book (I have not read). Here it is neatly and tightly summarized providing a challenge to my cloudy precepts as you see in my previous post. I do not have to agree to appreciate his interest and his study.

I do not see myself as a nihilist, nor somebody in particular despair about existence. Nor do I see for example the questions nominated as the great important questions. Nor do I think that modern life is despair blinded by bloated consumption. Mostly my life is pretty crap, especially work, designed as must be by some vicious fool, but there are some sublime moments. Our fellow humans do that to us sometimes. Otherwise there is a case for detachment, and the final solace of death, the view from beyond the grave, to the future and to the past. Then there is the internet, and the freedom it provides from the tyranny of opinion manufacture and it opinionated chatterers. Then again I take these matters pretty superficially.

Except I would say the method of science is fundamental to our world. What I believe, if I can remember exactly what that is, probably do not count because I am not Shakespeare, much less Hamlet. I regard fundamentalism as a disease, on the understanding their is a broad spectrum of possible human behavior. We have to live in the human condition, as the human condition both changes and remains the same.

There are many things I do not understand, and you know how irritating that can be, especially when it comes to specifics. I do not understand the relationship between the genetic component, our psychological selves and our sociological and historical determination. All I know is that the handmill is long way from the computer, and the breakthrough point from the industrial age is a long and tortuous transition, that must be driven by imagination.

SURPRISED, BUT PERHAPS I SHOULD NOT BE March 28, 2005

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The question might be who will die first? There is the Pope being kept alive by the best medicine available, or Terri Schiavo who has been disconnected from her life support system.

The Pope should not worry about dying, because he is the Pope, and ipso facto a good guy, and the gates of heaven will be swung open, with the heavenly choir and the flourish of trumpets and so forth. Yet he still wants to live, and suffer the agony of Christ, for the greater glory of the church. I am not confident about the theology here. However, if I believed heaven was a dead cert, however boring it might get, I would take it. But death in this context is an issue of theology, while the politics of the succession get underway in the Curia.

We had a bit of a discussion about the Terri Schiavo case in the house. To which it was suggested: “You would cut me off my life support system why I was listening to Beethoven.” The critical point is that people in this situation cannot express an opinion. Reliance has to be placed on medical science, and the law to determine whether a person remains in effect a living human being.

What surprises me, given that he is always quoted as among the foremost public intellectuals, I have not heard from Peter Singer. Surely, one of the media should be seeking his views. It is the type of problem that he has sought to promote. (I take a public intellectual to be someone with an acknowledged degree of expertise in an area, and who then takes up these matters through various media, not excluding the internet, in a manner that makes them accessible to public at large.) Peter Singers view is suggested by this report.

As you must observe, I am neither very construct theologically or philosophically, or for that matter, clever at coming up with a quick answer. Then again, I could be the next human being for whom the decision is made to remove the life support system, and unfortunately, perhaps I am either an agnostic (not believing that God can be known), or an atheist (not believing in the existence of God), depending on whether it is overcast or sunny. In my view belief in God is irrelevant to morality and ethics.

God is not even a good working hypothesis for most peoples actions. There are usually better explanations for cause and effect, now moreso than during and before the Middle Ages. To rephrase myself: God and Good are independent. To do good in the belief that is desired by God is not sufficient. It precludes any notion of freedom and responsiblity. To be fully human is to conceive the consequences of actions, and hence to be entailed in uncertainty.

Then there may be argument for the existence of God, but not an objective proof. Maybe God is inherently subjective, but I do know the Good cannot be. The Good must be objective. It must like the laws of science being capable of discovery by most people, be replicable and be testable. Maybe the case for God is right, but they are too complicated for the humble, and hence they have a only a deluded sense of God, which is no sense of God. ( I am not at all sure about this line of argument.)

Postscript:

This opinion should not be taken as being disrespectful of anyone’s religious views, and I freely acknowledge the possibility that they might have better grounds than I have for mine. Please do not be offended. The opportunity exists for you to arque your case.

UPDATE: 28/03/2005

(Sorry Sydney Morning Herald, I promise to buy your paper tomorrow). Here is a real philosopher, from Charles Sturt University, discussing the case in philosophical terms. I am greatly impressed on those two grounds. Especially the second. Even if a university does not have a philosophy department, at least it has philosophers, as you might think be a prerequisite for awarding doctors of philosophy. That’s me a real conservative, stuck as I am in the Middle Ages.

SURPRISED, BUT PERHAPS I SHOULD NOT BE March 27, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Social Environment.
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The question might be who will die first? There is the Pope being kept alive by the best medicine available, or Terri Schiavo who has been disconnected from her life support system.

The Pope should not worry about dying, because he is the Pope, and ipso facto a good guy, and the gates of heaven will be swung open, with the heavenly choir and the flourish of trumpets and so forth. Yet he still wants to live, and suffer the agony of Christ, for the greater glory of the church. I am not confident about the theology here. However, if I believed heaven was a dead cert, however boring it might get, I would take it. But death in this context is an issue of theology, while the politics of the succession get underway in the Curia.

We had a bit of a discussion about the Terri Schiavo case in the house. To which it was suggested: “You would cut me off my life support system why I was listening to Beethoven.” The critical point is that people in this situation cannot express an opinion. Reliance has to be placed on medical science, and the law to determine whether a person remains in effect a living human being.

What surprises me, given that he is always quoted as among the foremost public intellectuals, I have not heard from Peter Singer. Surely, one of the media should be seeking his views. It is the type of problem that he has sought to promote. (I take a public intellectual to be someone with an acknowledged degree of expertise in an area, and who then takes up these matters through various media, not excluding the internet, in a manner that makes them accessible to public at large.) Peter Singers view is suggested by this report.

As you must observe, I am neither very construct theologically or philosophically, or for that matter, clever at coming up with a quick answer. Then again, I could be the next human being for whom the decision is made to remove the life support system, and unfortunately, perhaps I am either an agnostic (not believing that God can be known), or an atheist (not believing in the existence of God), depending on whether it is overcast or sunny. In my view belief in God is irrelevant to morality and ethics.

God is not even a good working hypothesis for most peoples actions. There are usually better explanations for cause and effect, now moreso than during and before the Middle Ages. To rephrase myself: God and Good are independent. To do good in the belief that is desired by God is not sufficient. It precludes any notion of freedom and responsiblity. To be fully human is to conceive the consequences of actions, and hence to be entailed in uncertainty.

Then there may be argument for the existence of God, but not an objective proof. Maybe God is inherently subjective, but I do know the Good cannot be. The Good must be objective. It must like the laws of science being capable of discovery by most people, be replicable and be testable. Maybe the case for God is right, but they are too complicated for the humble, and hence they have a only a deluded sense of God, which is no sense of God. ( I am not at all sure about this line of argument.)

Postscript:

This opinion should not be taken as being disrespectful of anyone’s religious views, and I freely acknowledge the possibility that they might have better grounds than I have for mine. Please do not be offended. The opportunity exists for you to arque your case.

UPDATE: 28/03/2005

(Sorry Sydney Morning Herald, I promise to buy your paper tomorrow). Here is a real philosopher, from Charles Sturt University, discussing the case in philosophical terms. I am greatly impressed on those two grounds. Especially the second. Even if a university does not have a philosophy department, at least it has philosophers, as you might think be a prerequisite for awarding doctors of philosophy. That’s me a real conservative, stuck as I am in the Middle Ages.

IRAQI INSURGENCY FALLING APART? March 27, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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According to this report in The Guardian, the Iraqi Sunni insurgency is falling apart. Two major reasons are given. The election has apparently given the Government legitimacy. Secondly direct negotiations with the Sunni tribal leaders are driving a wedge between Islamic extremists and the nationalists.

At this point, I am sceptical. No government has being formed from the elections. Not a good look. The Sunnis had good reason for not participating in the election. Furthermore, a major reason for Shia to participate was the promise of the removal of the invaders. I suspect the logic is simple: as long as the invaders remain, there will be resistance of one form or another.

And, it would be a good tactic for the Americans to desist from their haphazard murder and incarceration of Iraqi citizens. What legal basis do they have for doing what they do? If unilateralism is taken literally they have none. Oops they make it up as they go.

Such is the nature of media management and propaganda that this “story” has been created. But then it may be accurate. I can believe that car bombing, with callous disregard for murder of innocent people would cause a backlash. I doubt provided a capability for resistance to an invasion exists it will whither.

Supposing the insurgency did fold. When would the Americans remove themselves, and would they do so completely. Scepticism is appropriate to this outcome as well.

UPDATE: MONDAY 28/03/2005

Juan Cole collects information suggesting the article quoted above was not based on the same reported reality. The question to my mind is: What is the best outcome, and how is it to be accomplished? What are the win/win possiblities?

IRAQI INSURGENCY FALLING APART? March 27, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq.
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According to this report in The Guardian, the Iraqi Sunni insurgency is falling apart. Two major reasons are given. The election has apparently given the Government legitimacy. Secondly direct negotiations with the Sunni tribal leaders are driving a wedge between Islamic extremists and the nationalists.

At this point, I am sceptical. No government has being formed from the elections. Not a good look. The Sunnis had good reason for not participating in the election. Furthermore, a major reason for Shia to participate was the promise of the removal of the invaders. I suspect the logic is simple: as long as the invaders remain, there will be resistance of one form or another.

And, it would be a good tactic for the Americans to desist from their haphazard murder and incarceration of Iraqi citizens. What legal basis do they have for doing what they do? If unilateralism is taken literally they have none. Oops they make it up as they go.

Such is the nature of media management and propaganda that this “story” has been created. But then it may be accurate. I can believe that car bombing, with callous disregard for murder of innocent people would cause a backlash. I doubt provided a capability for resistance to an invasion exists it will whither.

Supposing the insurgency did fold. When would the Americans remove themselves, and would they do so completely. Scepticism is appropriate to this outcome as well.

UPDATE: MONDAY 28/03/2005

Juan Cole collects information suggesting the article quoted above was not based on the same reported reality. The question to my mind is: What is the best outcome, and how is it to be accomplished? What are the win/win possiblities?

THE CONSOLATION OF HISTORY March 26, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights, Philosophy.
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What happened in the past cannot change what is happening now. However, it can provide a comparison, so we see clearly the gang that is running things now does not represent the best of the American mind and heart.

In his column in the New York Times, Thomas L Friedman reviews “Washington’s Crossing” by David Hackett Fischer. To quote at length:

What is particularly moving is one of Mr. Fischer’s concluding sections, “An American Way of War,” in which he contrasts how Washington dealt with prisoners of war with how the British and Hessian forces did: “According to the ‘the laws’ of European war, quarter was the privilege of being allowed to surrender and to become a prisoner. By custom and tradition, soldiers in Europe believed that they had a right to extend quarter or deny it. … In these ‘laws of war,’ no captive had an inalienable right to be taken prisoner, or even to life itself.”

American attitudes were very different. “With some exceptions, American leaders believed that quarter should be extended to all combatants as a matter of right. … Americans were outraged when quarter was denied to their soldiers.” In one egregious incident, at the battle at Drake’s Farm, British troops murdered all seven of Washington’s soldiers who had surrendered, crushing their brains with muskets.

“The Americans recovered the mutilated corpses and were shocked,” wrote Mr. Fischer. The British commander simply denied responsibility. “The words of the British commander, as much as the acts of his men,” wrote Mr. Fischer, “reinforced the American resolve to run their own war in a different spirit. … Washington ordered that Hessian captives would be treated as human beings with the same rights of humanity for which Americans were striving. The Hessians … were amazed to be treated with decency and even kindness. At first they could not understand it.” The same policy was extended to British prisoners.

In concluding his book, Mr. Fischer wrote lines that President Bush would do well to ponder: George Washington and the American soldiers and civilians fighting alongside him in the New Jersey campaign not only reversed the momentum of a bitter war, but they did so by choosing “a policy of humanity that aligned the conduct of the war with the values of the Revolution. They set a high example, and we have much to learn from them.”

Power is seen by some, as the supreme object in itself, but that never is the case. What matters and what lasts is what is done with the opportunity and the responsibility it entails. Mediocre people remain so, regardless of how much power they might appear to exercise. One suspects there will come a time to clear out the stables.

Postscript::

This title was not simply seized out of the ether. The reference, perhaps oblique, is to Boethius, who wrote Consolation of Philosphy while awaiting sentence for treason. At this time, the sixth century, the Roman Empire is visiblly vanishing before people’s eyes, although the idea lives on for centures. You know how it is. What may be an obvious reference for me, may not be for others. And we can link, which means I get to know how suferficial my knowledge is.

EASTER FRIDAY DOG BLOG March 25, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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Sasha and Taff posing. Posted by Hello

I have commented before that the dogs merely tolerate some human behavior. I suspect they find it silly. He will get over it, so let’s think about what we are going to do next. The time they are off their leads is about half the time they are out on their walk. So much for the dogs of freedom.

As for their names. Taffy is no mystery. He is a New South Welshman. Sasha I am not so sure. There may be an influence from Russian literature.

Sasha was picked up walking along the Picton road, in November 2000, near the dams that supply the Sydney area water supply. She had bleeding feet and was not in a good state. The person who picked her up advertised in the local paper, and we said we would take her. She arrived in a van with mentally disabled children. They were prodding her and doing other inappropriate things, which is why I have always sought to give her as much free reign as I could. She has a good temperament.


Sasha checking out the view from the backstep. Posted by Hello

Sash seeking the highest spot to check out what may be happening. The general messiness is my responsibility.


Taffy taking a foot bath Posted by Hello

After their walk, the dogs take a foot bath. Sasha gets very overheated so she is more ethusiastic. Taffo on this occasion is not looking very interested at all. “Maybe I will just do this to keep him happy.”


Sometimes a horse is interested, otherwise they have better things to do Posted by Hello

Sometimes the horses are interested in the dogs. They sniff them, and in thier turn the dogs lick them. I think this horse has a very expressive look.

RECORD – ONE PASSER-BY March 25, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
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Pacific Black Duck. Photo: © K and P
Rowland Posted by Hello

I have just checked out the Site Meter to discover that one person passed by this blog today. That is to say, they hit the site, but they did not read anything. And the apples are rocking on. The disparity between them and Site Meter 31. I have not bothered to be careful about my observations, but I have observed it is not a consistent difference.

There are advantages in having no visitors, the chief of which is that there is no ground for concern for what is said. I dislike those visitors that troll from one blogger blog to another. I am not directing my comments to that readership, so I am happy if they do not turn up. Nor do I think that the mainstream Aussie blogdom readers will be interested in my blog. I have not defined my audience/market.

Of course, there are things wrong here. The lack of editing is one of the most important. With this blog, it seems to me, I can both publish and edit. And if anybody wants to point out any mechanical faults, grammatical or otherwise, I can fix them. Sometimes content is difficult as it was today. There was not much to comment on from the newspaper.

As far as I am concerned as a private/public writing exercise it still works, and I like to think that it is getting better.

Postscript:

Should you be interested, you can find more about the Pacific Black Duck at the Australian Museum site.

BRITSPEAK March 23, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Social Environment.
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I am not always sure here expressions come from, whether from Britain or the US, nor do I care. Acording to Kevin Drum, one American has taken the trouble to study the matter, finding words and phrases of British origin being used to replace good American ones.

However, I do not think that the explanation should be attributed to globalization. That is too general. I think there is a cross movement of people and the interpenetration of media, for example films, newspapers and no doubt the internet. People picking up expressions happens all the time.

What is interesting, and not in itself original, is that there is resistance to what Kevin takes to call “Britspeak”. Usuage comes and goes. World wide English is infused with Yankspeak, and Britspeak, although often I am one who was not aware of its origin. My view is that once a phrase has gained common currency in World English it ceases to be merely an Americanism, or a Britishism, or for that matter, an Australianism.

RUMSFELD BLAMES TURKEY March 22, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq Policy.
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After a quick check through the usual places, I can only find mention of this story in The Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently, US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, blames Turkey for the success of the largely Sunni insurgency, since that country’s government denied access for the US military through its southern border. To check the chronology here, it is fair to suppose this was prior to the invasion was launched, and secondly, as reported, 90% of Turks were opposed to the invasion. Did he really say that?

Kevin Drum observes that the establishment of US military bases in Iraq has always be a aim of the Whitehouse. Rumsfeld implies in the article mentioned above that any actions of the government arising from the elections will be prescibed by US interests.

So much for the triumph of democracy and the march of freedom. Imperialism, may not be in a good shape, but neither is it dead.

UPDATE: 23/03/2005

Tim Dunlop at The Road to Surfdom has more to say about these matters. He commented on Rummy blaming the Turks at this post. He takes up Kevin Drum point about the military bases here.

HOLLOW MAN – IT’S JUST A FEW DEGREES OF SEPARATION March 21, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Life Experience.
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Margo Kingston invites us to answer these questions: What are your core values? What is your life’s purpose? Where do you look for inspiration? Sounds like a job interview to me. In fact, it was a job interview. Geraldine Doogue interviewed all the leaders of the political parties for the ABC television program, Compass.

I blabber when faced with these questions. I have not a clue. Evidence of being the classic hollow man. Of course, as a job interview, I would have practiced the answers designed to my best information to provide whatever the interviewer was looking for, or failing that try to avoid saying anything that might be damning, and hence credentialling myself as a conservative. Therefore, I am always very impressed with any of those quizzes that suggest I might have some values.

Anyway, let me try. If I associate values with ends, it is clearer to me what I am talking about. In this sense my values would be truth and justice. It seems to me, however provisional, truth is way to solve problems, illustrated by scientific inquiry. As for justice, I think that Aristotle was right. It was he said: The bond that held people together in society.

I do not think my life has a purpose. I think that proposition is defensible. Ones purpose ought to be doing what you are best at. A blank gives rise to blank.

I sometimes look for inspiration from books, otherwise I am not inspired.

Of course, as is the nature of philosophical inquiry, we could always ask another question: What does it mean to be a human being?

Margo does not lose the opportunity to attack John Howard:

Electing a leader is about trusting them, yet we never seem to get to the nub of the relationship of trust between Australians and their elected political leadership. Instead we get lost in presentation, word and blame games, jousting, self-interest and colour. And increasingly we switch allegiances on mood, or in reaction to day-to-day events and impressions. This trend was reinforced this week when a Sydney Morning Herald poll showed plummeting support for Howard and his government, recently comfortably re-elected on a ‘trust us, distrust the other lot’ pitch. Now Labor leads!

So who is the man we decided to trust with our collective future for another three years? Comparing the interviews, John Howard’s was the least open, yet perhaps the most revealing. Doogue asked: “What values have you sought to hand onto your children?” The values of his parents, he replied, “honesty, loyalty to one’s family, hard work, aspiration, a commitment to the community.”

The glaring omission was compassion, a core value cited by all the others in one form or another. Compassion is “awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it”; synonyms include pity, sympathy and empathy. Compassion is not a partisan value. In the words of US statesman Hubert Humphrey, “Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.”

Margo seems to have lost sight of the fact that we have a parliamentary system and not an American-style Presidential system. The lack of compassion could be seen as a considerable political strength. Nevertheless, our prospective political leaders should be subject to job interview type questions. We are in a sense employing them.

DUCKS AND NECROPHILIA March 21, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Duckspeak.
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This is the Duckpond right. Now this story about animal behavior appeared in The Guardian appearing as among their most popular articles for the week. It involves the sort of subjects I would personally like to steer clear of – rape, homosexuality, necrophilia – but the murder of human beings is OK. The Guardian has no particular idea as to why this story was apparently so interesting.

I suppose in general that animal behavior is interesting. We try to decode the behavior of those animals with which we have the most contact. We develop close emotional bonds with our pets, exploring the boundaries between mammalian species. As I observed yesterday at the vets, our grief is genuine when they die, which I think on a practical level prepares us for dealing with the death of those closest to us, without the ritualistic aspects. We will put dogs down rather than leave them comatose or in pain, but not humans.

Then, I suppose, there is the issue of the boundaries of moral codes. The apparent ease in which they might sometimes transmute, so that young people from country towns placed in a military organization can become torturers. We ( the presumptive “we” again) would like to believe that some behavioral prohibitions were deeply encoded in our nature. The behavior of ducks, without a full consideration of circumstances, might be seen as completely separate from human behavior.

Since we overconsume in this household, now might be the time, for me to read what Peter Singer has to say about these matters of animals and ethics.

POSTSCRIPT: “OVERCONSUMPTION”

This topic is discussed by John Quiggin ,who thinks we should spend on the alleviation of human poverty, and Jason Soon that capitalism requires innovation and risk (while Brad DeLong wonders what is results from Microsoft’s billions spent on research and development program). Me, I am concerned to get my drains fixed, get well, and go back to work, if I still have a job.

However, I particularly like the comment made by Francis Xavier Holden in response to Jason’s post:

The waste is even worsererer than Clive Hamilton mentions. Each day there are hundreds of thousands of blogs on the net NOT used or read.

Ducks require rivers, dams and duckponds, although the ability and competence to think ecologically is not something that can be taken for granted in the decision making processes, as we see evidenced around us. In the meantime, I am proposing computers for ducks, failing that a continuing march through a non-echoing corridor. It is an analogy for life, or not.

HINDI AND WELSH March 20, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Multiculturalism, Social Environment.
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I remember being told that the notion of a Indo-European language was a myth. Practical experience would suggest otherwise. A Hindi speaking women reports that at first, when on the phone speaking English, she is often mistaken as Welsh. A Hindi-speaking doctor in North Wales often has his patients revert to Welsh. In both languages it seems the enunciation of the vowels is very specific. There are common vocabularies, for example for counting.

Something for the linguists to followup. It is plausible on its face. Hindi and Welsh are outliers of the Indo-European geographical spread. Presumably, Hindi and Welsh have not undergone the different cross currents of influences, so typical, for example, of English. Although, I would expect that Hindi may have been affected by Arabic, Persian, other languages, and more latterly English

NATIONAL DIGNITY March 19, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq Policy.
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Silvio Berlusconi coped flake from the Italian press and the opposition regarding his 24 hour change of mind after talking with George Bush. That Bush must be a very persausive fellow. Berlusconi change his mind from starting the withdrawal in September to saying he had not a fixed date. This was sufficient for a Italian newspaper to say that he “was playing with Italy’s national dignity”. The decision to withdraw has gained a political momentum, which I expect will be difficult to stop.

In a parallel case, the death of a soldier by friendly fire and massive public rejection of the Iraqi venture, Bulgaria has also annouced plans to begin to withdraw its 500 soldiers. Moreover, the US has announced that it will reduce its forces to below 138,000. And it turns out, at least as measured by one poll, the Iraqi adventure is not as popular with Americans as previoulsy.

Imperial wars are perhaps always difficult to sustain for obvious reasons among which are included their cost, casualties, and the hostility of the captive population, especially if you act like drunken and murderous cowboys and smash their cities. Then there is the issue of overselling success and underselling difficulties. It is complete nonsense to claim that the Iraqi election was a success when effectively 25% of the population did not vote, representing a key group, and therefore is not participating the Government Such discrimiation is antithetical to democracy. It is a priactical problem by itself. Even at this length of time after the election, a national government has not been formed. Then there is widespread civil insecurity, most particularly in Baghdad. Iraq is the exception to the general rule. Most invasions at least secure the capital city.

Iraq is now a snafu, a major problem, created by Bush and his rabid advisers, and one that will not be easy to solve. Meanwhile, if the reports are true, it is good to see Haliburton in the long tradition going back at least to the Civil War, of profiteering from the supply of military supplies and services.

We have to send 450 soldiers and their equipment to hide away in the remote, we would like to believe, fastness of southern Iraq for what have become very confused reasons. National dignity was never one of them. Since the reasons given by the Prime Minister do not make sense, we are lest to intuit or otherwise speculate what the real reasons might be. We were told our commitment will last at least a year and cost $300 million dollars. I would like to know who the beneficiaries of this money will be. Talk about tipping points and Iraqi democracy is just foolish. He also said that “coalition withdrawal and defeat is unimaginable”. In fact , this is the most imaginable outcome.

As you might quess not everybody shares my opinion. Accorrding to Michael Gawenda, in the Sydney Morning Herald’s weekend edition, the “Jury’s Out”

Despite the blunders and miscalculations on Iraq, George Bush can say his decision to invade has been vinciated.

A impressive statement, devoid of supporting evidence.

Gawenda concludes his piece of junk food journalism, with Bush’s remarks to one of his rare press conferences:

. . . Bush was asked this week about a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. “Our troops will come home when Iraq is capable of defending herself”.[no irony intended - this is serious] He praised Iraq for its bravery and determination to vote, calling the first meeting of the Iraqi national assembly “a bright moment in history”.

This is a President with a sense of parody – he is genuinely a funny guy. However, I have the sense that this is not intended. Gawenda continues his marvellous piece.

He did not talk about the second anniverary of the start of the war. He didn’t talk about the mistakes and miscalculations. He didn’t talk about them because he wasn’t asked.

Here is the real story. He should have started with this, and rewritten his article, following Brad DeLong’s advice

The Sun Herald carries this opinion by Frank Walker and agencies, “No time for rejoicing as Iraq toll keeps climbing.”

The country is far more dangerous than 12 months ago, say security experts, and reconstruction has slowed to a crawl.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 US military personnel are in Iraq despite serious medical conditions that should have ruled them out of combat, according to the National Gulf War Resource Centre. The GI Rights Hotline, which counsels troops, says it fielded 32,000 calls last year from soldiers seeking an exit from the military, or suffering from post-combat stress.

Others vote with their feet. Last year the Pentagon admitted that 5500 of its forces had gone AWL, although it claims many returned to their units after resolving personal crises.

The number of Iraqi dead is not commented upon. There are figures suggesting that more Iraqis have been killed by the Occupation forces than by the Insurgency. Whatever the case, again this is hardly evidence of the success of the invasion and occupation. Increasingly, expect to see countries such as Italy and Bulgaria retire from the scene, leaving countiries with a strange special bond with the US, who will leave in shock when the Ameicans go.

Maybe in retrospect, the failure to hold the elections earlier, might be seen as a lost opportunity, since it might have resulted in an accommodation between the Shia and the Sunni.

Postscript:

In making these comments its possible to engage in duckspeak, to become ideologically blinked. The evidence, in my view, about the situation in Iraq is no secret.

IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT – MUST BE DOG BLOGGING March 18, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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Camouflage can be effective Posted by Hello

You may have noticed that the photography is a little uncertain. I am just familiarizing myself with my camera after a hiatus. The photo illustrates just how effective their dog markings can be as a camouflage. I try to keep an eye on them all the time. Of course, this is impossible, early in the morning. I was using a dog whistle, to keep things a little quiet and not disturb people who may be sleeping. The problem was I could never tell whether they heard me or not – the classic problem of message without feedback. This is not an inconsiderable observation. Those politicians who use dog whistling, must also have the propaganda apparatus to check that they are hitting the mark.


Sasha caught ready to act Posted by Hello

When the dogs are out, I am watching them all the time, and trying to anticipate what they will do next. Something has caught Sasha’s attention. But nothing came out of this situation. Whether Sasha is too self determined, as befits a dog of freedom, is a judgment others make. With these dogs people who understand dogs generally have no problem.


Taffy walking determinedly along Posted by Hello

While sometimes he surprises me with his alacrity, Taffy must now be over twelve, so he is slowing down a bit. Each of the dogs have their own stories as to how they came into our household. Coming home late at night in 1994, I saw a dog that looked as if he could be one of the other dogs we had at the time. He was under the street light down on the corner. He had a tick, and was generally unkempt. One of the young vets suggested he could be put to sleep. There was a very firm denial of that suggestion.

Taffy is a kelpie, and we are still open to suggestions as to what breed Sasha might be.

ROCKING APPLES March 17, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
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The reliability of the traffic measures to this site are in question. The apples, starting at the handicap post of the Federal Election, last November, are about to overtake the Site Meter, which would have began no more than two months after establishing the site.

In these matters, it is better to stick to the less faltering result as the more accurate measure.

Anyhow, my affection for the apples remains undiminished. They keep on spinning.

UPDATE: 16:05 18/03/2005

Since at least 11:21 this morning the apples and Site Meter have been coming stride for stride. I should have checked this issue out earlier. As people are so happy to do in medicine perhaps I can observe this phenomenon is ideographic (although I am sure it is not.)

MAYBE NOT NOW March 17, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq Policy.
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It seems that John Howard was right. Perhaps the Italians will not be withdrawing their troops from Iraq in September, despite public opinion and the forthcoming regional elections. Nor is it absolutely clear that they will not.
We know the Poles, the Ukrainians and the Dutch will be. The COW seems to have a weak bladder. At this psychological moment, at this tipping point, now six weeks after the Iraqi elections, and before a national government has been formed, the decision was made to send Australians.

The report of Silvio Berlosconi’s change of policy frame was carried by the NZ Herald, picking up a Reuters story.

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