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NEW YEAR REFLECTION December 31, 2005

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On the macro-level things will tend to continue much as they have been doing.

It is on the personal level that things get interesting. Our circumstances could take a turn decidedly for the worst.

It will be interesting to look back in twelve months time.

PREDICTIONS 2006 December 30, 2005

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This has become a regular thing to do for me, over the past couple of years at least. I made my first predictions on John Quiggin’s blog.

These are largely rash judgments. Although predictions can be straight forward. For example last year, I predicted that the situation in Iraq would get worst, and that Bush would not have the capacity to turn. I also thought that Blair and Clark would be returned in the general elections respectively in Britain and New Zealand.

1. Australian Federal Politics.

I suggest that John Howard will stay on as prime minister, denying Peter Costello his opportunity. I have been hoping that Howard would go for the last three or four years, but it has not happened. The government is tired and arrogant with their one seat parliamentary majority and their rushed legislation. I think the reason that Howard and Blair want to hang on is the feeling of irrelevance they will have when the political caravan moves on, as it surely will, without them in the spotlight. I suppose this response is understandable if it is understand occupying the centre of the political stage has addictive qualities. Blair is under pressure to step aside, and has promised to do so. Howard is not under that pressure, if anything the contrary, although that may happen.

I at least think that legislation, especially the Work Choices legislation can unravel, and it would not surprise to see the High Court rule it invalid, although it was passed on the basis, I understand of s51.20, but I would expect the federal nature of the constitution, and the means of transferring powers from the States to the Commonwealth will weigh heavily in the Court’s decision.

I do not like to think what may happen with the terror legislation. However, I think that the persistent pattern of appalling behavior and poor administration must sooner or later strike against the government, given that it has allowed the situation to fester, and has refused to take strong and effective action against it. In my view, this is one area that will go down as a black mark against the Howard Administration.

I predicted, somewhat wistfully, that Howard would have a Cabinet reshuffle bringing more of the talent from the backbench. The political timing would be right for this year. Turnbull and Robb come to mind, as they did last year.

Will the ALP replace Kim Beazley? The area that Beazley has failed has been in redesigning and repositioning the Labor Party to be attractive to a wider range of participants. That seems to me a significant failure of leadership. On the other hand he has the Industrial Relations issue, which will bring back memories of meeting wharfies on cold Fremantle mornings with his Dad. The Liberals will attempt to paint him as outdated, although it is, I suspect, a turning issue for the Howard battlers – it is their dose of political reality.

There will be a number of State Elections in 2006, for example South Australia, and I expect the incumbents to be returned.

2. American Politics and Iraq.

Ignoring the political genius of Karl Christian Rove, a very rash thing to do, I expect that the Democrats will perform strongly in the Congressional mid-term elections, even allowing for the entrenched gerrymander electorates, which is rasher than ignoring Rove’s hidden hand.

The reason I make that prediction, is that withdrawal of US forces from Iraq must start to happen in a substantial way. The victory option is mere hot air.

Bush’s image and reputation will continue to be tarnished and to fall. He could replace all his immediate advisors, and so revive his presidency to some extent, but I judge that he does not have the executive ability, experience and political judgment to take that step. The result will be that the United States will continue with its leaderless drift.

The longer term outcome, as the seriousness of the situation becomes apparent to more people, there will be a determined demand for political change, including electoral change.

And while Canada is not the United States, I expect the existing government to be returned in their General Election as a minority government, perhaps forming a government with the New Democrats and “Parti Quebecois”(or whatever the correct spelling might be).

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – FINAL FLING 2005 December 30, 2005

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The weather has been consistently hot or warm – opinions differ – and the bush fire season is in full swing. There has been talk of walk bans, but at least they have been delayed. Sasha has been lapping up the water, while Taffy does not have the same thirst.

As you may be aware, you can click onto these photos to englarge them.

Taffy alert ( but not alarmed).Posted by Picasa

Taffy stepping out with intent.Posted by Picasa
Sasha and Taffy – contrast in style.Posted by Picasa
Sasha and Taffy – Nothing to say. Posted by Picasa
“Eyes right.” Posted by Picasa
For a change Taffy sits. Posted by Picasa
Sasha – sizing the situation.Posted by Picasa
“I can look that way – if you want.” Posted by Picasa
“We’ve done this before”. Posted by Picasa
Taffy in the pool. Posted by Picasa
“Hey, if this isn’t nice, we do not know what is”. Posted by Picasa
Taffy reposes. Posted by Picasa
“Ah yes, you are there.” Posted by Picasa
Sasha appears amidst the trees.Posted by Picasa
Time to take it easy. Posted by Picasa
“I may be ready to go home.” Posted by Picasa
“But then again . . .” Posted by Picasa
“I might sit down.”Posted by Picasa
For more dog photos go to Carnival of the Dogs at Mickey’s Musings, and for more dog and other animals go to Friday Ark#67 at Modulators.
Next week, I may, select my favourite photos of the year.

GALILEO – A PORTENT December 29, 2005

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The American supremacy in space is under constant challenge. The Chinese launched manned space flights, and the Japanese and Indians, among others, have launched satellites.

Now the Europeans have launched the first satellite of what is intended to a civilian controlled and superior version of the GPS as reported by The Independent. The project, which is intended for operation in 2008 is not without critics, but that is the nature of such endeavours. The significant effect will be a lessening of dependence on US technology, and by implication greater independence, and perhaps greater global political influence for the Europeans, who collectively can marshall and operate projects far greater than any one country could sustain.

Furthermore, the fact that the American military machine is stuck in the sands of Iraq, not to mention the mind boggling waste of money, has no only reduced their prestige, but reduced their capacity to act. While Iraq bleeds, other parts may be left free to breathe, free from the threats of the insane bully.

THE NATURE OF GROWTH December 28, 2005

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I am putting some notes on this blog about growth. This information is over 20 years old, and at this point I have not given the source, since I cannot find sufficient information about him – not online anyway. The context is these were lectures on psychology built around the proposition that, “Growth involves changes of relationship within the organism and the organism and its environment.” I happened today to be transporting a frog from my backyard to the front, using my special dustpan frog transporter, and I was struck by how extraordinarily aware it was of my presence.

Lex Grey actually gave us some suggestions we might use to answer the question, What is Growth? Consider these views:

1. A series of inter-related processes leading the organism to maturity.
2. A series of waves of activity, a form of activity, a form of movement.
3. An indicator of energy flow, absorption, release.
4. One direction of change – of relation, of form.
5. Evidence of being.
6 The (series of inter-related) processes by means of which we release/decipher our potential/purpose(s)/intentionality.
7. (An) inductive process(es) that represents a plan common to species of space/time of behavioral action of each and all organisms.
8. A continuous, interactive, rechargeable, reproducible time component in energy flow.
9. Being ourselves as we live our nature and our history.

Then there was the question: Do these help you arrive at your own (composite) view on the same first question? No was my answer.

It was a lot easier to agree with what was proposed as the nature of growth, that growth is:

1. Universal to life, and particular to each species.

That statement gives a definition of what a species is, and I suppose the more similar a species is to another, the more similar their growth patterns. However I am not sure how this accounts for the long period of maturation in humans. In turn this raises the question: What is going on in evolution?

2. Built-in to the organism.

It is inherently part of each organism, representing the individuality of the person. Growth emerges from relationships, not interactions. The difference here can be illustrated by considering two football(generic sense) teams. You might relate to those on your side by passing the ball, and interact with your opponents, by tackling for example. The notion of relating implies a challenge to all outside authority. Our responsibility, it argued, is to relate rather than oversee growth.

3. Has own pulse(beat).

Here again regulation is misguided.

4. Growth has constancy.

5. Growth is positive.

6. Growth is, and enables function.

No wonder then if you were to ask me, Do you understand what growth is? I would reply, Yes I think I know what it is to experience, and I could observe it in children learning to walk and play and to talk, but when you ask me to define it, all I can say is that there are a lot of things of on, and in general it is how we manage to do and become, who and what we are. And then I would like to add the observation (untested) that environments seem to shape outcomes in significant ways.

Or, perhaps in saying that I am merely identifying myself with my culture and my circumstances. In other words, I am stupid, not because I am inherently stupid, but somehow my environment, at critical growth phases, created that result through labelling and expectations and so worth, and otherwise I would be less stupid. Of course, special pleading, but on the other hand, what is the purpose of education and learning? How could we ever learn, even if to do so was to learn poorly, or very slowly?

Furthermore, perhaps obviously, but I believe significantly, culture is internalized. The internalization of language as specific language codes and characteristic expressions and syntax, might be judged to be intelligence, or at least be dependent of other forms of intelligence, other than verbal reasoning. The immediate family environment is reflective of a social and cultural situation. As linguists observe, children from working class environments, for example, might have effectively to learn a new language when they go to school, which in turn may have implications and ramifications in the frame of their growth and development.

SABOUTEUR December 27, 2005

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We think of sabotage as lighting a fire in a aircraft factory, or as blowing up the Statue of Liberty, as indeed depicted in Hitchcock’s 1942 movie, Saboteur.

And being a early forties movie, this film does not resist anti-fascist propaganda. Charles Tobin, the conceited anti-hero seers at the ignorance and complacency of the general population. He says:

You’re one of the ardent believers – a good American. Oh, there are millions like you. People who play along, without asking questions. I hate to use the word stupid, but it seems to be the only one that applies. The great masses, the moron millions. Well, there are a few of us unwilling to troop along… a few of us who are clever enough to see that there’s much more to be done than just live small complacent lives, a few of us in America who desire a more profitable type of government. When you think about it, Mr. Kane, the competence of totalitarian nations is much higher than ours. They get things done.

Who would have thought that those elected to political office, and those they appointed, would so shamelessly sabotage the principles and practices of American constitutional government? James Carroll is not an extremist, but this is the case he makes in his Boston Globe column, via Common Dreams. He provides an number of examples to support his argument, including the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, the black sites for torture, and most recently the illegal use of spying on the domestic population. We are not hearing these charges for the first time. The right might have held the same view about the measures of Franklin Roosevelt, but they had recourse to the Supreme Court.

Bush’s immunity, more than shamelessness, is the most remarkable thing for me. It is extraordinary that the Administration could prevail on The New York Times for a year or more not to publish the story of the domestic spying. But James Carroll’s caution is not to underestimate George Walker Bush, as if he were not smart enough to know what he is doing. Carroll concludes by observing:

Perhaps Bush’s savviest achievement has been to make the public think that Rumsfeld and Cheney are the dark geniuses behind the administration’s malevolence. If Bush is taken as too shallow to have a fascist ideology; as too weak to stick with hard policies that undermine democracy; as a religious nutcase whose apocalyptic fantasies don’t matter; as a man, in sum, the average citizen can regard as slightly less than average — then what he is pulling off will not be called by its proper name until it is too late. 2005? Oh yes, that was the year of the coup.

Of course, I suspect that you do not kick through the door, unless the door is already rotten, and sooner, or later, somebody is motivated to come along and do the job. And finally, well in almost the words of the song, “What has trust got to do with it?”

CHRISTMAS NEGOTIATED December 26, 2005

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The Christmas season was very successfully navigated again this year.

I did not send anybody a Christmas Card, which sounds mean, and probably is, since I did receive one from my sister. I spoke to her by phone, and that was the totality of my Christmas commitment.

Other than that I got an email from a Christian Indian, which I replied to, and a sms from a Hindu Indian, to which I have not responded, but which will be something sacrilegious along the lines which God, and in which form. What is nice about Hinduism is that it takes you out of the monotheistic straight jacket.

In matters theological there is a need for care, especially because I cannot get biblical references right. Sill Rashmi seems to have got the nuances right. And score that as win-loss for multiculturalism, which is obliquely to make the point that our entrenched Christian society has tended to make few allowances for the religious observations of others. And Christianity remains a proselytizing religion, which can sometimes be a problem for plurality.

I did not hear one Christmas song this year, with the exception of “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas”, but by another singer. I must have heard some Christmas songs in the supermarket, but I managed to ignore them if I did.

And we did not go down to Cronulla so far, or alternatively they did not come down to us, so we avoided one of those political discussions where the participants talk past each other, so that the divide in attitudes gets wider, and the people wonder what has happened.

And I had the perfect excuse this year, my specialist advised me to avoid crowds.

Still, other than that there is something to be said for drinking too much, eating too much, and engaging in family political discussions. The process might be called unconsciousness raising.

“THIS LAND IS MINE” December 25, 2005

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I got to see this 1943 film staring Charles Loughton and Maureen O’Hara one morning on the ABC. The reviews are, it seems, all critical. For example, consider this Variety.com review.

It occurs to me that many of us live our lives as collaborators. But there were two aspects of the film that stood out for me.

The first was the reference to how the Nazis had made the labor unions impotent in Germany as part of the new world order, which I cannot see any reference to in any of the reviews. This struck me in the context of the new Workplace Relations Laws. But aside to what relevance, I may draw, it is part of the films political message that remain, if ignored.

At the close of the film we see first Charles Loughton, and then Maureen O’Hara reciting the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. And this too is part of the film’s political message, but one that appear to have any resonance in the Australian political framework. Article 16 might be of special interest now and in the future.

PEACE ON EARTH December 24, 2005

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This sounds like a good idea to me, now or anytime. It seems to be particularly associated with this time of the year. Time, perhaps then, for a Christmas thought.

Apparently, this phrase comes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, writing after the Civil War and the death of his wife:

“‘There is not peace on earth,’ I said
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men”
. . .
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep,
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.’”

Pope John XXIII issued a papal encyclical in 1963, which makes the point, I think, that peace is difficult, but given what we have witnessed in Iraq for example, it is a challenge that is well worth undertaking.

At each point along the way our political leaders make decisions. Ours typically follow wherever the Americans lead. You might find some value in listening to James Carroll, former priest and columnist for The Boston Globe, describing the American proclivity for war over peace.

So happy and safe Christmas, holidays – or whatever – and let us continue to work for peace in the time we have yet to live, and “to be the change we wish to see in the world”.

25 December 2005 – I think I just failed biblical class, as you might expect of a athetist. Brad DeLong, a far more learned person than I, has a relevant quote. I should have quessed. Failure on two counts.

“OH YEA!” December 23, 2005

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No sort whatsoever, I suspect. But take the quiz, and check your result. Naturally, I picked this up at Mickey’s Musings.

ScientificIntellectual
You’re a scientific intellectual.

What Sort of Intellectual Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

“. . . oh yea”.

Note: The word “intellectual” is used somewhat loosely here. My view, while I recognize that we have brains and capacity for abstract thought, projecting our thoughts and potential actions into the future, and weighing them one against another as a system of values, to quote in part Jacob Bronowski, these capabilities, I might suggest, are evidence of our potential “humanness” encoded in our nature since conception, and not especial “giftedness”, or the competence in subjects that comes from extensive study. But then, here is a quote just found, from Jacob Bronowski:

To me, being an intellectual doesn’t mean knowing about intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them.

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – ANOTHER WEEK OF SUMMER. December 23, 2005

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Another week of summer, and I am feeling lethargic, if not Sasha and Taffy, who has taken to barking at me when he thinks it is time to go for a walk. I tell him he is old for a dog and has a broken leg, but it makes no difference.
(You have an option to enlarge the photos by clicking onto them. )

Taffy enjoys the moment.Posted by Picasa
Another Moment.Posted by Picasa
Sasha makes her appearance. Posted by Picasa
Mixed Reactions.Posted by Picasa
A gumtree pose. Posted by Picasa
A Sasha stance. Posted by Picasa
Sasha poses. Posted by Picasa
Sasha posits.Posted by Picasa
. . . in a new position.Posted by Picasa
. . . then pauses. Posted by Picasa
. . . and decides it is time to go. Posted by Picasa
Sasha rests again. Posted by Picasa
“There is a dog over there.” Posted by Picasa
Evening Light.Posted by Picasa
Taffy disappearing leg trick.Posted by Picasa
I will just stand here (disappearing lead trick). Posted by Picasa
Disappearing dog trick – almost. Posted by Picasa
Sasha approaches.Posted by Picasa
. . . and passes. Posted by Picasa
. . . and keeps going.Posted by Picasa

On the way home, I almost stepped over this small animal.

Could be a stick . . . Posted by Picasa
But on a closer look not so. Posted by Picasa

For more dogs go to Mickey’s Musings – The Carnival of the Dogs – and for more dogs and other creatures go to Friday Ark#66 at Modulator’s place.

OUTCOMES OF THE IRAQI ELECTION December 22, 2005

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John Simpson, at the BBC, answers seven questions in relation to the Iraqi general election.

The voter turnout across the major ethnic groups appears to be high overall. On this basis the election can be judged to be a success, especially compared to say Egypt. John Simpson reports that while there was low level chicanery the overall process was reasonably fair. To the extent this is true, given the prevailing circumstances, this outcome is quite an achievement for the Iraqis.

Then there are a series of related questions. John Simpson thinks the election will not necessarily solve the political problems of the country, since this will depend on the quality of the politicians elected, nor he suggests will the election end the insurgency, agreeing with Juan Cole. John Simpson observes that the Iraqi state has so far been resilient and having a national parliament, without effective power, nevertheless creates a institutional basis for national unity.

The last two questions relate to the United States. Simpson states that the US will have to withdraw its troops before the mid-term Congressional elections. He says that only two cases come to mind where the interventions of First World countries has proven not to be electoral liabilities – The Falklands and The First Gulf War. And they proved to be short and successful. I can think of two others – Granada and Panama. John Simpson says that once the tide of public opinion turns it never again supports the war party.

According to this report in The New Zealand Herald, the losers, including the Sunnis, are not happy with the result, and are proposing to not show up in the new parliament. They accuse the electoral commission of massive fraud. Fair enough. Where do we go from here?

And Patrick Cockburn in The Independent, via Common Dreams, believes the Iraqi state is disintegrating.

INTELLIGENT DESIGN December 22, 2005

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A US Federal District Court judge has ruled that Intelligent Design is an interesting theological argument, but not science, according to the LA Times. The judge therefore concluded that the decision by members of the Dover School Board to have Intelligent Design taught in biology classes was a form of introducing religious teaching into schools and therefore unconstitutional.

Implicit in the judgment is the question, What is Science? I take it this means something like we form hypotheses, we see what happens, form theories as why or what is happening, abandon them if they do not work out, and systematically seek to expand our understanding. Really, what the proponents of Intelligent Design are saying is that we should abandon the theory of evolution for a theologically inspired idea. Science does not presume to know everything, unlike its opponents, but what is does suggest is true, provisional but testable, which means that understanding may be less than complete. What can be explained and understood in great detail to take one example of DNA, is pretty amazing.

On a personal level, I tend to rely on science. My haematologist rang me yesterday to advise that my neurophil count was low, and that I should avoid crowds this Christmas because I am susceptible to inflection. As I have subsequently, found out the neurophils are those white cells that destroy bacteria. I feel confident that I should follow the advice of my doctor, who is a medical scientist. I would be foolish to take any other course. Intelligent designers want to believe anything they choose to believe, while undermining the provisional reliability of science which provides the basis for informed action, and development of new understanding, such as causes of diseases.

Still I think this extract from The LA Times account is worthy of repetition:

Supporters of intelligent design argue that biological systems are so complex that they could not have arisen by a series of random changes. The complexity of life implies an intelligent designer, they say. Most of the movement’s spokesmen take care not to publicly say whether the designer they have in mind is equivalent to the God in the Bible. On that basis, they argue that their concept is scientific, not religious. But Jones said the concept was inescapably religious. “Although proponents of the [intelligent design movement] occasionally suggest that the designer could be a space alien or a time-traveling cell biologist, no serious alternative to God as the designer has been proposed by members” of the movement, including expert witnesses who testified, Jones wrote.

A space alien, or a time travelling cell biologist? Wow! The apparent purpose of religion, or at least some religious practitioners, it sems to me, is an intention to confound what little intelligence I possess. Actually, this conspiratorial view of ID was supported by the observations of the Judge. The Guardian, via Common Dreams, reported:

But in his verdict yesterday, Judge Jones was categorical that “intelligent design” was not science, and that its attacks on evolution should not be admitted into the classroom. “This tactic is at best disingenuous and at worst a canard. The goal of the [movement] is not to encourage critical thought but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID.”

The idea of keeping theology and science as distinct fields of inquiry, explanation and reasoning seems to me still one of the those good ideas of the Enlightenment. Wikipedia appears as well to have a worthwhile account of the Enlightenment.

Judge Jones, as reported in the LA Times, made further specific comments in his judgment including the following:

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the board who voted for the intelligent design policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the intelligent design policy.”

“Both defendants and many of the leading proponents of intelligent design make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general.”

“Defendants’ asserted secular purpose of improving science education is belied by the fact that most if not all of the board members who voted in favor of the biology curriculum change conceded that they still do not know, nor have they ever known, precisely what intelligent design is.”

Ah, that is a problem. My designer(s), for reasons unknown, left me with the same difficulty, still I will take up the Kantian proposition, Sapere Audi.

And let us pray, in the wake of this judgment, there might still be hope for America.

There are discusssions and comments at Catallaxy and Lavatus Prodeo.

Postscript: I bags multiple designers – the time travelling cell biologist and the space alien for starters, and perhaps there may be other suggestions.

NEW PRESIDENT IN BOLIVIA December 21, 2005

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The Independent quotes Jorge Quiroga, his chief opponent as saying: “I publicly and openly congratulate Don Evo Morales.”

Mr Morales will be the first native American to be elected president of Bolivia. It seems, to the chargin of Washington, that the left is moving from strenght to strenght in South America.

I suspect that the burden of expectation of his jubilant supporters, combined with the intriques of a meddlesome northern neighbour using the full gamut of tools, techniques and tricks, may make this a difficult initiation to political power.

For now, good on you Bolivia, and my very best wishes for your success.

IRAQ ELECTION RETURNS December 21, 2005

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Baghdad cab removed from scene of suicide bombing (via New York Times, Khalid Mohammed/Associated Press

It seems that Juan Cole was accurate. Iyadi Allawi and Chabli, the American candidates, have not done well, although Edward Wong in The New York Times considers that Allawi may yet be a political player. As predicted, Iraqis voted according to religious and ethnic identities. Iraqis in general, not just Sunnis in particular seem to have voted to end the American occupation, and while Bush may praise the election, he is unlikely to begin the process of disengagement, without first securing control over the oil and the establishment of military bases. Meanwhile, the national resistance is likely to continue.

VERBAL ABILITY December 20, 2005

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Maybe you do not follow this blog so I should mention that I am on a “growth kick”, that is trying to understand this on first sight straightforward, but on closer examination more nebulous, demanding idea, and in the full flight of madness, not constrained by any reasoned restraint, I am attempting to apply this concept to psychometric testing.

For those of us who have normal intelligence, psychometric just been the fancy name for IQ testing, concentrating on numerical, verbal and spatial ability, these tests are pretty reliable. They have been standardized against relevant groups, such as populations in universities, and perhaps sets of employees carrying tasks that the test attempt to measure. They may not wholly predict performance, because it seem that personality and interpersonal relations seem to be a significant factor, but they indicate the level of difficulty a person will experience and the progress they will make. I am told they become unreliable beyond about the 140 score, because that is the intelligence measure of the people who design them. There are controversies associated with them following the different results achieved by different racial group classifications. Some have argued that these difference are reflective of cultural and social class influences. This explanation sound plausible to me. Nevertheless, in a human resource management context when selecting people to carry out tasks where these abilities are relevant, I think they are a very good tool to employ.

Such are the wonders of the internet, that any of us can undertake a verbal ability test. I did. I was shocked by the result. Deep dungeon. While this is not a full introspective report, I am sure you get the idea. The growth orientation to the understanding and study of psychology admits and values such introspection. Then I thought about it, and concluded that my reading of text is sometimes so slack, that my answers were little better than random responses to the standard questions of confirming the text says that, it does not, and cannot tell. It was a painful experience, but I learnt something from it.

CHANGE OF PICTURE December 20, 2005

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Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.

Rolf Harris has just painted a portrait of some British iron-handed commoner at age 80, as reported at the BBC site.

I find, I like this old one better, and for reasons for which I am not clear about. Despite my republican prejudice, Rolf Harris’s portrait of the British Monarch is not bad.

Just so you know, I have never engaged in art criticism of any kind in my life before.

ALL CLEAR December 19, 2005

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Photograph via ABC News Online (Getty Images)

Now it seems it is alright for people to go back to the beaches. We have this assertion on the authority of the premier.

All of the instances of terrorism were home grown it seems, and the new Federal terror laws were in these circumstances superfluous. The new laws regarding incitement were left in the drawer. The situation is somewhat ludicrous. Now we are to believe the beaches are safe.

The alienation of some sections of our society reflects failures in our mechanisms of social intelligence, our democratic system and processes, and most acutely in our political leadership, at State and Federal levels.

Just an opinion, because I am not close enough to processes, it seems to me the passage of the terror laws and the industrial relations laws, leaving aside the political control exercised over the supposed representatives of the people, and through their submission the House of Representatives and the Senate, suggests fundamental shortcomings in the legislative process.

It seems to me, the reform we need is the reform of parliament. Perhaps the legislation can be pushed through in each chamber in under three hours, reflecting its urgency.

Anyway, I hope the cops and the horses get to go for a swim.

THE ASSUMPTIONS WE MAKE December 18, 2005

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The more I think about it, the more I tend to the conclusion that it is cultural or experiential differences that are more important that racial distinctions. For some people these group differences are racial in character, and it is easy to build stereotypes around that distinction.

Differences in language, for example, are cultural in nature, and I have observed service people talking louder on the assumption presumably that the person cannot hear what is said, rather than does not understand the message. And, of course, when racial distinctions are drawn, on the assumption that we are all part of the same tribe, it ignores differences, especially class differences within that group. Our family is our first social environment, and under the forms of industrial capitalism, it is likely to reflect the social experience of the parents.

The aspirant working class home is common in Australia (for reasons I do not fully understand, possibly because the perception, or belief, that barriers to social mobility are not entrenched. (Given Howard’s social experimentation with IR legislation, this social understanding will change over time.) So the more authentic working class environment would be less familiarity with written, formal variations of English that dependent on the visualization of the written word, but an environment where meaning is governed by what is said and what is heard.

So we hear on the ABC “nilly” meaning “nearly”, and I am inclined to say from time to time, “somethink”, not something, and some New Zealanders do not distinguish be “chair” and “cheer”. Think that odd, well explain to me how using my variation of English, why it is that I do not distinguish in speech between: poor, pour, paw and pore. Linguists believe that by the time these usages become noticeable, they are so entrenched they do not readily change. With progressive years of schooling, some of the rough patches of verbal enunciation are squashed and people are progressively, introudced to formal English, often in effect learning a new language, and thereby become, in a sense, multi-lingual.

In a migration influenced culture such as Australia, I suspect in many cases it is the mother tongue may be first learnt, at least for the first born. When I was in hospital, I noted that the Australian born children spoke to their parents in Greek, but the grandchildren spoke in English. In this situation, this was unfortunate for me because in the same room beyond the curtain, I could not help listening to what was said. I much preferred when the visitors spoke in Greek.

Other than language, people with the same general ethnicity, for example descendent from people who settled from the British Isles, or at least NW Europe, there can be cultural differences. So that when we consider Australians with a common ancestry to people southern states of the US, we might have some difficulty because we are not attuned to each others accents, and in some instances, I think this person came from Kentucky, no hope whatsoever in understanding what was said. And to compound matter more matters, he was talking about going to Chicago to see either an American football or baseball game. Now when I turn on the cricket, or watch the football (usually Rugby Union, or sometimes Rugby League) my significant other has an understanding, if not interest, in these matters of deep and transient moment.

I am thinking about this question in the context of the London Bombers and more recent, and ongoing events in Sydney, which seemingly have radiated to the wider metropolitan area to include Wollongong and Newcastle. ABC News reports today confirmed that stupidity crosses the cultural and ethnic divides in our society.

NUMERICAL ABILITY December 18, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Just recently I have become interested in psychometrics – the comparitive measurement of numerical, verbal and spacial ability, along with the assessment of personality. You may, or may not know, that I am on a growth kick, so in my aspiration, which is in my experience a long way short of execution, I want to take a look at growth and psychometrics.

So, I have been looking examples that supposedly test numerical ability in relation to a standardized norm. I always think it is a good idea to cheat in these matters, so I can see how they work. There is one example that has stumped me, even though I supposedly have the answer. Just so you start on equal terms, I give you some examples and show how they work.

4—3—10
3—4—11
2—2—?

In this example, you (mathematical genius, I hope) are supposed to recognize that if you double the fiqure in the middle column and add it to the first column, you get the answer in the last column. Easy Ok.

A slight variation follows:

16—2—12
11—4—3
14—3—?

You are supposed to recognize immediately(even if not a mathematical genius) that if you double the middle number and subtract it from the first number you will get the last number. Easy Ok.

I will leave out the examples with simple multiplications, or subtractions, of two numbers on the basis that they are too easy, but here are slight variations:

4—4—2
6—3—4
8—2—?

Multiply the last two numbers and divide by two to get the first numbers.
And another variation is:

16—2—7
18—3—5
20—4—?

Here you are supposed to notice if you multiply the second and last number and add the second number the result is the first number. Simple and elegant.

Now consider this variation:

-6—-5—-3
-4—-3—-4
24—19—-?

Dunno. The answer is recorded as 18. In this instance (-) is not a operator. Here the dash is simply acting as a spacer.

Looking at the possibilites, considering all the middle column of numbers are prime numbers, there may be no relationship between them, then how could that be proved? I also keep looking at 6, 4 and 24, but all the examples above are lateral equations.

Oh I suppose, it is good to keep in mind my limits.

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