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NY MARCH AGAINST THE IRAQ WAR April 30, 2006

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There was a small march in New York, the police estimated 300,000 participants, but it seems not to have made the news here, but it was reported by The Boston Globe.

So what is news anyway?

WEALTH OF NATIONS April 29, 2006

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Melvyn Bragg identified “Twelve Books that Changed the World”. It strikes me as an odd list, although I have no idea what ten or twenty books I would suggest. The Independent lists Bragg’s selections, which with one exception excludes any book written in the twentieth century. Bragg’s list is:

1.Charles Darwin, The Origin of the Species (1859). 2. Marie Stopes, Married Love (1918). 3. William Wilberforce, Speech to the House of Commons (1789). 4. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). 5. Magna Carta (1215). 6. The King James Bible (1611). 7. Michael Faraday, Experimental Research in Electricity (1855). 8. The First Rulebook of the Football Association (1863). 9. Patent Specifications for Arkwright’s Spinning Machine (1769). 10. William Shakespeare, First Folio (1623). 11. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776). 12. Issac Newton, Principia Mathmatica (1687).

I have to say I have read none of the above, but the world changed anyway, or part of it did. Obviously it is a very English list, and somewhat eccentric. It ignores the Ancient World (Plato) and the Medieval World (St Augustine). Some books listed are stand outs. For example those written by Charles Darwin and Adam Smith.

To show how very influenced I am in these matters, on Friday, I bought Wealth of Nations, and I hope to read it. This may be another mistake based on a good intention. It is not the type of book that I will be given to read obsessively because of the basis of a quick scan I find very quickly I have not followed what is written.

Postscript:
Of course, Adam Smith was part of the Scottish Enligthenment.

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – DEXTER IS BORED April 28, 2006

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Dexter from the beginning has challenged our assumptions as dog owners.He is very tractable when he goes out. He is happy to sniff and tag along. He worried us when he took to jumping over the side gate and over the back fence. So some of the fence and one side gate have been replaced. Now it is evident that he is not getting enough exercise, which is to say that once we have succeeded in keeping him in, we still have problems to address.

Sasha pauses.Posted by Picasa

The Ducks are evident. Posted by Picasa

A prim Dexter. Posted by Picasa
Homeward bound. Posted by Picasa
Dexter resolute. Posted by Picasa
Sasha and Dexter out in the morning air.Posted by Picasa
Morning survey. Posted by Picasa
Selection and satisfaction. Posted by Picasa
In the frame.Posted by Picasa
A ruminative nature? Posted by Picasa
Cool and comfortable. Posted by Picasa
Taking the strain. Posted by Picasa
“Not more than I can chew!” Posted by Picasa
“So there!” Posted by Picasa
So let’s begone.” Posted by Picasa

These photos can be enlarged by clicking on them. I hope you like at least one or two of these photos.

For further photos check out Friday Ark#84 at Modulator and The Carnival of the Dogs at Mickey’s Place.

SO YOU ARE AN INTELLECTUAL? April 27, 2006

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So therefore you can define things, elucidate, distinguish, what is what, and what is not. Luckily, I am hopeless at this type of thing. I cannot tell the difference between a spaceship and a saucer.

But I wonder why the English were, as it seems, inclined to empirical philosophy? In doing so they set the frame for the Americans and the other colonials. I suspect it has something to do with the rationalism of Locke and Hume gained over the Eighteenth Century verbal and literate class which the romantic reaction never quite overthrew, because the stature of its primary advocates were not diminished.

Still, I am happy to report there are a set of definitions describe the intellectual in their various guises. Timothy Garton Ash, writing in The Guardian, quotes the definitions of Stehan Collini:

Collini distinguishes three different senses. First, there’s the subjective, personal sense: someone who reads a lot, is interested in ideas, pursues the life of the mind. That’s what people often mean when they say of a friend or relative that he or she is “a bit of an intellectual”. (Usually this is not unkindly meant, as if talking of a harmless hobby or foible.) Then there’s the sociological usage: the intelligentsia as a class, which may be said, for example, to comprise everyone with a university degree. But this sociological usage has never really caught on in Britain, unlike in central and eastern Europe, where it’s part of the standard descriptive apparatus.

Last, and most important, is the characterisation of a cultural role. Collini attempts to pin this down in a careful definition. An intellectual, in this sense, is someone who first attains a level of creative, analytical or scholarly achievement and then uses available media or channels of expression to engage with the broader concerns of wider publics, for some of which he or she then becomes a recognised authority – or at least a recognised figure and voice.

The last, I suggest, is the determining case, in distinction from intellectual training and competence – especially useful among our leaders (thinking of a certain president), who might as a measure of personal integrity forswear a total reliance on spin (thinking of certain prime ministers), if only to avoid the accuracy of the endearment, “charlatan”.

Postscript:

I do not think it true, or even generally true that Australians, as was suggested at work today, are inclined to an antipathy to intellectuals. Definition three represents the closest description, although intellectuals do not need to be public intellectuals. And it seems to me there is no shortage of public intellectuals. Some people may attain the status under definition one. Definition two is less than plausible, if accomplishment is a criteria. The problem with the concept and the definitions is that it leaves those of us non-intellectuals as a grey area. Jacok Bronowski once said that most people are not intellectuals, they are spiritual, which I doubt is true for all people in the category.

“WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE . . .” April 26, 2006

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War it is perhaps true always represent a terrible tragedy of lives destroyed. In modern war there is no sensible distinction between combatant and non-combatant, between the military and the civilians.

Juan Cole notes:

With regard to American casualties, the Pentagon does not even announce the wounded each day unless a soldier is killed. If you had 7 wounded, we’d never hear abour it. And, they are being badly wounded, often. Spinal damage, limbs blown off, and, MSNBC says, brain damage.

As could be foreseen at the time of the invasion of Iraq, not only would the civilian Iraqis suffer terrible casualties and injuries, but the same would apply to American military personnel, and what makes their situation worst is that as a matter of policy, their injuries are not widely reported. The rationale seems from Vietnam, and is wholly to do with spin. Of course, it quite clear that this is an American engagement, and that the other contingents, including the British, are largely onlookers.

One wonders how well the people who have been damaged by this war, as well as brain damage there is an emotional cost, will fare in twenty years time. I fear there will be little sympathy, since by then it will seen not to have been a heroic endeavour, and that those injured and crippled will be cast aside, more particularly because the cause of their suffering were ignored for cynical political reasons.

Perhaps the Americans on balance will fare better than the Iraqis, but that will be just a matter of degree.

ANZAC DAY April 25, 2006

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It is a great pity that we do not celebrate peace and not war.

The invasion of ANZAC Cove was the first time, I believe, the Australian Army had acquitted themselves to the rigours of combat, and various myths arose.

Various myths arose, but the question is whether those myths serve a useful purpose, and whether they have any connection with reality.

It is quite obvious from Howard’s decision to joint the American assault on Iraq, that war is not the last resort. It was quite obvious at the time that the invasion of Iraq to steal their oil and to desecrate their and humankind’s cultural heritage would result in the countless deaths and suffering of Iraqis.

The time is long since past when the criminals who conspired in this murder should be brought before an international court.

INDIA AND CHINA LEAVE A LARGER FOOTPRINT April 24, 2006

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One trend is quite evident that India and China are emerging as significant global political and economic players. To the extent that power is relative, The West is in decline.

DW has the story of India participation at the Hanover Trade Fair. The article mentions that India has middle class of 350 million people, and I assume that middle class in this context means people with a discretionary income willing and able to buy consumer goods. It is interesting to note that Indian companies are looking to invest in Germany.

I get the impression that the US is in a relationship of co-dependency with China, which sooner or later, if not now, has limited the possible actions it can take against China, and so for example it has to pick on Iran. George Bush grabbing at the suite of the Chinese President will live long in the memory. Haroon Siddiqui originally in The Toronto Star but picked up at Common Dreams suggests the George Bush is a lame duck, but I would suggest that the US has become enfeebled by Current Account deficit and the Iraq imbroglio.

Now as The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Chinese President is doing business with Saudi Arabia to secure oil supplies.

While I am not sure of the timeframe, I would think these developments represent the first challenge to western hegemony for three hundred years at least. Thus they represent a significant turning point in world history.

Postscript:

Japan challenged the West’s economic hegemony, and prior to World War II did challenge wstern hegemony, but in some respects since then it has remained a client state, whereas China and India are growing economic, political and military powers. The Soviet Union mets the requirements since it was never part of the West, yet it remained a largely European power. Thus Russia aspired and could realistically become part of the West.

BLOGGING A CAREER MOVE April 23, 2006

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The Boston Globe, somewhat counter-intuitively, claims that “Blogging is essential to a good career.”

The article claims that blogging does the following:

1. Blogging creates a network. 2. Blogging can get you a job. 3. Blogging is great training. 4. Blogging helps you move up quickly. 5. Blogging makes self-employment easier. 6. Blogging creates opportunities. 7. Blogging could be your big break. 8. Blogging makes the world a better place.

There is some truth in all of this, I would guess, but the blogs they quote are not political blogs. Still, I accept the point that blogs display skills, and lack of skills.

STILL REFUSING TO CONCEDE April 23, 2006

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To a casual observer the Italian Electoral System looks anything but straightforward, and some of the level of complication may have been added to by changes made by the Berlusconi government.

Senor Prodi seems to have done a John Howard and secured a one seat majority in the Senate, which seems to have the same recipe for constitutional crisis with both a bicameral system of nominal equal powers.

In the meantime the Centre-Left coalition cannot assume government until a new president is elected, and Berlusconi is still refusing to concede defeat despite court decisions.

It seems to me, no doubt for several reasons, the Italians have made the settlement of government unnecessarily difficult.

The BBC has an update.

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – CONTRAST April 21, 2006

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Dogs always never do what you want them to do – somewhat similar to human beings. What I have decided, probably in contradistinction to traditional photographing, yet making use of the ability to take multiple shots, is to try and set up the screen and capture what happens.

I am conscious of the expression “give a dog a bad name”, but Sasha and Dexter do often appear to exhibit different attitudes to events. It is my selection and so perhaps it is my stereotype. (As usual, these photos can be enlarged by clicking on to them.)

Sasha and Dexter – following their inclinations. Posted by Picasa
Typical Dexter pose – serious and alert. Posted by Picasa
Dexter gets ready; Sasha pays attention. Posted by Picasa
A pleasant disposition? Posted by Picasa
Contrasting attitude? Posted by Picasa
Contrast in outlook. Posted by Picasa
“We’re just a couple of dogs . . .” Posted by Picasa
Just before: Dexter acts, Sasha posits.Posted by Picasa
Passing horses and a dog are of interest to both.Posted by Picasa
Sasha sits; Dexter finds a stick. Posted by Picasa
Lighten up Dexter! Posted by Picasa

More photos are available at Friday Ark# 83 and Carnival of the Dogs.

INTELLIGENCE AND RACE April 21, 2006

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Ken Parish has set a good reference resource on the subject of intelligence testing in general and on the issue of intelligence and race in particular. If I had sufficient smartness or application, no doubt I could remedy one obvious deficiency in this blog by having a subject list, which would hopefully add to its usefulness to others and not least myself.

Shish, do not tell anybody I did not do the set reading before contributing to the tutorial. Perhaps it was noticed but overlooked. My implicit point was that brain scanning technology is a new tool, seen in a beneficial light, with potential for the study of intelligence.

ADSL OUTAGE April 21, 2006

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My service provider advises that they are experiencing an ADSL outage, which means that I have not been able to connect yesterday and at least this morning.

Perhaps of no interest, but I thought I would mark the occasion. Last evening, I had to retreat to old technology and read a book. Of course, I knew television would be a waste of space and time.

Ah! Such are the travails of my baneful existence.

THE IDEA OF PEACE. April 19, 2006

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Appearance and reality, as we know, are often estranged, and sometimes deliberately so. But the idea of peace, may well often be a better way of providing for our most important, if different, needs.

So it is that I note via Juan Cole that Joost Hiltermann, Middle East project director of the International Crisis Group, suggests:

Iran’s recent decision to begin discussion with the US concerning Iraq may well be chiefly informed by its wish to deflect pressure stemming from the nuclear crisis, but both countries also share an interest in finding ways to stabilize Iraq. Both sides have much to gain and even more to lose in the current standoff. There couldn’t be a better time for both to sit down together and put their cards on the table in an all-out effort to save Iraq and, thereby, their own vital interests in the Gulf.

As was said some time ago I believe, and in the Bible, “Blessed are the peacemakers”. I make these biblical quotes because I understand they are especially persuasive with some people.

Still the real question remains whether the respective governments in Tehran and Washington are sane enough to choose peace. I mean this in all seriousness.

Postscript.

Phillip Adams got there first, and took his satire to the next step.

WHY DON’T THEY GO? April 18, 2006

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John Howard and Anthony Blair are two cases who want to stay onto their jobs at prime minister regardless. The repulsive Howard and the insufferable Blair.

Why, why, why do they stay?

At least Blair these days, according to this BBC story, is getting into a sweat.

As we know, Americans took leave of their senses, or those that voted and were able to vote the irresponsible Bush in for a second term, even when a first term was inconceivable. All of which would have been a great joke on their foolishness, except that he damage has been of the planet and global society.

None of them seems conscious, Howard in particular, of the social damage they are causing.

Postscript:

In every case, it may depend on the electoral cycle, the public perception of the opposition, and aspirants from within the respective parties. Sooner or later, the tide of public perception will catch up with the turn of events. It is just not happening soon enough. Meantime, whinging might be my best and only option.

BNP SUPPORT April 18, 2006

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It seems, the BBC reports, that up to 25% of British voters might vote for the British National Party. This response is overtly a reaction against multi-culturalism, but covertly a reaction to relative economic deprivation.

What are the Howard “battlers” except racists? Voting for Howard gives them legitimacy, provides an electoral rationale for regressive and vicious refugee actions, but which does not advance the economic well being of the “battlers”, nor would the Labor Party, here or in Britain. Core voters, in two party electoral systems and marginal seat campaigns, are frequently marginalized by being taken for granted, and silenced, so much easier to do if people have not the confidence or opportunity to express their views.

The problem, I think, is that we do not recognize when a democracy has become dysfunctional, or appreciate, despite historical evidence, what a dangerous state that represents.

1916 EASTER UPRISING April 16, 2006

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It is now the 90th anniversary of the Easter Uprising in Dublin.

I understand it was for Irish independence what the storming of the Bastille was the French Revolution, largely a symbolic event. Murder of Irish patriots did not stop then. The excuse was that Britain was fighting the First World War, and they saw the uprising as treachery.

The BBC has a retrospective analysis of these events.

LATIN RETURNS(Subject to review to confirm suggested evidence) April 15, 2006

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DW reports that the study of Latin is increasingly popular among German students.

The reason, it seems, is at least twofold. Firstly, Latin is seen as the common European language, and it appeal has been strengthened by the reunification of Europe. No doubt it helps with the learning of other European language who are either modern variants, or like English have drawn on Latin. The second reason appears to be that the learning of Latin has been made more fun, and less onerous and particularistic, so I suppose that students are encouraged to be interested in it.

I still maintain that English is the great European hybrid between its German/Anglo-Saxon base and its Latin variant- derived super structure. When following his death Charlemagne’s empire broke up, the greatest divide was between West Francia and German-speaking East Francia. One might have suspected that the amalgamation of the two would have occurred in the middle kingdoms, whereas it took place on the European off shore island, influenced by the invasion and conquest of the French-speaking Normans, and the subsequent revival of English as the language of expression and political power.

Still it was never quite correct to call latin a dead language, since it is the official language of the Vatican City State.

“THE FAILURE TO ACT . . . April 14, 2006

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. . . is to condone evil.” Yes, but all the brave actions of those with ethical commitments often seem futile, resulting in their own deaths often in what seems circumstances of wasted deaths, even as sometimes, as in the case of Dietrich Bonhoeffer they inspire others. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s case, as described by the BBC, he could have waited a matter of weeks for the Americans to put boots on the ground, so why get killed before then?

Moral issues do not go away. Consider the death of Rachel Corry, who bravely stood before the Israeli Caterpillar bulldozer, driven by an Israeli soldier that roller over her and demolished the Palestinian houses she sought to defend. Her case is hardly reported, and hardly known. It is not as though she was standing before tanks in Tiananmen Square in advocacy of Democracy. Norman Solomon has this story at Common Dreams, including as well an account of The Israel Lobby, whose power to shape policy and to brand miscreants, even among Jews, is such that lobby seems a misnomer.

Then consider, as reported by The Independent, the brave action of the RAF doctor who refused to serve a third term in Iraq arguing to the military tribunal that the war was illegal, who tend dismissed him from the Air Force and put him in prison for five months. Perhaps his will be seen as another futile gesture, while the insufferable Anthony Blair smiles on.

Now consider the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, who supposedly has no moral scruples, and may be in the grip of some form of insanity, who will surely be condemned to death, and therefore acquire in the eyes of some one supposes, the status of a martyr.

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – ENJOY THE MOMENT April 14, 2006

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Even the routine can change, and change dramatically or significantly. The days roll by, and mostly the dogs go out. There is always that chance encounter. As the dogs were tired up soon after the last photo of this sequence was taken, they were attacked by two other dogs who should have been on leads. Dexter has some skin missing on his nose, but otherwise both of he and Sasha survived the ordeal. An easy mistake to make, I suppose, letting dogs walk free. I just stepped in, and pulled the doberman with a muzzle away.

Sasha and Dexter expressing themselves.Posted by Picasa
The short way is best?Posted by Picasa
“Look, we did not want to stop here.” Posted by Picasa
As usual Dexter is serious.Posted by Picasa
Patience takes many forms.Posted by Picasa
Sasha: from out of the shadows.Posted by Picasa
Are those sticks over the fence, too big Dexter?Posted by Picasa
Another morning, another tangle of leads. Posted by Picasa
“I suppose this is not too bad.”Posted by Picasa
Some context: a post, and the park.” Posted by Picasa
Sasha on alert.Posted by Picasa
Sasha takes it easy. Posted by Picasa
Stick or shade. Posted by Picasa
Dexter looks down.Posted by Picasa

I did not expect such a event to happen. Specifically, I do not want Dexter exposed to dog fights. As it was he half got out of his harness. I did not get angry or abusive – always good. I hope that the other dog owners will realize they should keep their dogs on leads.

The usual reminders apply. Any of these photos can be enlarged by clicking on them. Friday Ark#82 continues at Modulator and Mickey’s Musings continues to host the Carnival of the “Canines”.

HOWARD TO FRONT April 12, 2006

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The ABC reports that Prime Minister has been asked to appear before the Cole Inquiry.

There is a certain conceit here. I am guessing that he will not be saying he could not remember or words to that effect. Without underestimating Howard, he could lose credibility big time. He does not have, for example, Hawke’s court room experience.

Howard, I imagine, will claim he did not know, and was not told. The question will be put that he should have known, and should have been told.

As I understand it the general consensus in the commentariate is that the electorate does not care, nor comprehends this matter, but as with all generalizations it represents a partial truth.

Sometimes there are turning points, not recognized at the time, but from that point forward everything seems to go wrong.

For example, I get the impression the IR legislation is a continuing disaster, and I do not have any idea how the Government can salvage it. I am inclined to think that is based on an incomplete analysis and understanding of the labor market. The problem maybe as much that the market is reducing skills (as suggested via the NYT in their article on retaining displace workers), as much as low skilled employment.

We shall see if Howard’s self opinion is confirmed, and what happens to WorkChoices – if that is not arrogance, I do not know what arrogance could be. Oh, he did not unlease the “shock and awe” terrorist invasion of another country.

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