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MYTHOS ON LOGOS September 30, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Multiculturalism.
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I made reference to the “Mythos on Logos” argument on Andrew Bartlett’s blog which is apparently well known to people who study Ancient Greece. Needless to observe, I do not know much about it, but I was reminded when I read Karen Armstrong’s Wikipedia entry of reading about it in Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance.

Isn’t Google a marvel? Matt Kundert covers the issue in a way that makes sense to me, and in doing so points to much I simply did not get, as per the Glasses Analogy in Pirsig’s other novel, Lila. There is also an interview between Robert Pirsig and an interlocutor, via email, called Julian Baggini.

I am delighted to keep on stumpling across things, that I unconsciously knew must be there. For example, Gerald Hall writes:

If the task of philosophy is to understand reality, and reality is something other than myself or my specific culture or worldview, then philosophy needs to become an intercultural activity. This has not always been the case. If I assume that my culture is singularly gifted with access to truth, the philosophical task is primarily pedagogical and dialectical. However, once it is admitted that the other who does not share my cultural worldview is an original source of human understanding, traditional philosophy is called upon to unmask its pretensions of universal understanding. The same is true for theology.

I stumbled over these propositions arisign from what the Pope said. I suspect that the mythos and logos understanding is important to an endeavour to pursue reconciliation from which to construct peace with justice.

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – SPRING IS SPRUNG September 29, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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September is sprung rather than spring, as we get used to the warmer weather. Sasha is happy to get back and soak in her dog pool, and Dexter is pleased to have the opportunity for a drink.

Dexter posing. 23 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

Sasha and Dexter: Alerted. 24 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

Who’s there? 24 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

Against the Sky. 26 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

We meet. 27 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

Along the path. 27 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

Tip of the tongue. 27 september 2006. Posted by Picasa

Close support. 28 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

Waiting for you. 29 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

Just a moment. 29 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

There are now some technical problems with the size of the photos, but as with all such problems time will tell whether solutions exist or have to be conjured out of the air.

I am sure that Carnival of the Dogs will be running and that Friday Ark#106 will be boarding. We hope to catch them both.

COST OF SUICIDE September 28, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.
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There are times when I am just reading in a general way when what is read in a figuative sense hits you in the face. As it happened I was looking at the Nelson Mail - New Zealand – when I happened to read:

Nelson-Marlborough had the fifth-highest suicide rate in New Zealand in 2001-03, with 14.3 suicides per 100,000 people.

About 500 people kill themselves in New Zealand each year. The economic cost of suicide is estimated to be $1.4 billion each year.

How do you figure suicide costs over a billion dollars per year? Now Australia is about five times the population of New Zealand, so the cost here might be five times, allowing for the exchange rate and even different marginal social circumstances.

Social attitudes to mental illness are important. The forecast is that drought will make things tougher for farmers, and it seems for this recent ABC report that people in the bush are less understanding of people who suffer clinical depression, thus compounding problems faced by country people.

BLOGGER’S BEWARE September 28, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
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I know that Ken Parish warned us about the watching what we write, but now we have evidence from The Boston Globe that blogs are being used in court.

Here is the case cited in the article”

By maintaining a blog, “it’s like you have your own private newspaper or TV network where you can put your thoughts out there for the world, and that’s the appeal of it,” Barzilay added. “But your statements can come back and be used against you.”

That was the case for Prisby, 31, a civil litigator who started his blog in March 2005 as an outlet to muse on a range of topics, including football, movies, books, and politics. In December he and two friends were rear-ended about 2 a.m. by Galluccio in the Financial District. He assumed that the Boston police would investigate the accident. When there had been no action by February, he wrote what he later described as a “pretty angry entry” on his blog in which he described Galluccio as “really drunk.” Galluccio later denied the allegations to Channel 5.

His lawyer did not return calls for comment.

“It looks like just another politician with connections,” Prisby wrote Feb. 22 , noting that Galluccio was running for state Senate. He expressed hope that publicity about the accident would “somehow hinder his political career.”

Eventually, however, media reports of the accident surfaced and Boston police launched an investigation, and in April Prisby was a witness at a probable cause hearing. There, one of Galluccio’s lawyers, David G. Eisenstadt, produced copies of Prizblog entries and asked Prisby if he had been politically motivated to testify against Galluccio.

Prisby — who notes that he doesn’t live in Galluccio’s city and that he, like Galluccio, is a Democrat — said in the interview that he came forward “because I was just a guy who was rear-ended and was mad that the other guy seemed to be getting away with it.”

But Prisby believes his blog entries damaged his reputation as a witness. Ultimately, a Boston court official ruled that there was insufficient evidence to charge Galluccio. That left Prisby wondering whether his blogging had weakened the case.

``Of course I know my blog will be read by other people — that’s the point,” Prisby said. “But what I didn’t take into account was that a certain tone could be read into my words, and I think when my words were parsed and taken apart and put back together, I came off in the hearing sounding like a mean and vindictive person.”

The experience, which Prisby described as surprising and frightening, prompted him to stop blogging for more than two months. In June, he returned as a more thoughtful blogger, he said.

“I think my writing has become a little bit less frivolous and a little bit more careful, and I feel like I’m coming back to it a little wiser,” he said.

“You want to consider before you post anything whether you’re willing to stand by it. Admittedly, in this particular instance I did something I would not advise a client to do, which is make a statement about an accident or ongoing investigation. You’ve got to be very, very careful about that. And the cardinal rule is that if it seems like a bad idea, it probably is.”

The newspaper/television comparison is going a little over the top, but however understandable Mr Prisby’s response might be considered, I suppose as a lawyer he might have known better.

The temptation for me, as it might be for others, is to suppose that few people will read my posts, and so what I say will not matter. My experience is contrary, and on rare occasions I have been surprised my supposed private whimsy taken up elsewhere.

I try to maintain what I believe are appropriate public standards. The way I see it, in a democracy, we are accountable for our views, their implications and ramifications, to our fellow citizens, and while our words may not be bullets, such as those used by the pope proved to be, we should be mindful of what we say.

On the other hand, I think it should be sufficient to hold to a policy of good faith. That stuff about parsing, constructing and deconstructing a certain tone is far too clever for me.

The point to democratic debate, as expressed by A D Lindsay, is not to be deliberately engage in illogical argument or belittling those with whom, for the moment and on a particular matter we disagree, but it is to discover more of the truth, in so far as it can be known, about a subject.

The alternative view is to let it rip, but then that path may be to court.

Postscript:

But then a blog could work for the its writer, as illustrated in this US case, referred by Andrew Leigh.

COMMON HUMANITY September 27, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.
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Once upon a time, there was an American President who was both reflective and worth listening to. If it can happen, it might happen again, and the world might breath easier. Bill Clinton seems to have hit the television screens in the last week, including this interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press (NBC).

The immediate problem that faced America he said was terrorism, but the long term problem that faces us all is climate change. There is room for disagreement about this analysis. For example, some might say it is the economic deficit that is the more significant short term problem. Clinton is able to frame the issues without appeals to fear.

The take away quote, according to Tom Peters was:

“The biggest problem confronting the world today is the illusion that our differences matter more than our common humanity. That’s what’s driving the terrorism.”

I am not sure about the motivation of terrorism, and whether it is due to our seemingly intractable differences, including for example religion, but the recognition of our common humanity is starting point, the bedrock. As well, I am inclined to a scepticism about “humanistic capitalism”, principally through my personal experience of casual employment.

JAMES CARROLL ON THE POPE September 26, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Multiculturalism.
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While it must be clear that I do not know enough about which I express opinions, as I did at Senator Andrew Bartlett’s blog, there are those who can speak with the necessary authority, and whose opinions merit more careful evaluation. James Carroll, a columnist for the Boston Globe and an ex-Catholic priest, is I believe one such person.

Here is part of what he said, via Common Dreams:

Even abstracting from the offending citation, the pope’s lecture reveals a deeper and insulting problem. Benedict properly affirms the rationality of faith, and the corollary that faith should be spread by reasoned argument and not by violent coercion. But he does so as a way of positing Christian superiority to other faiths.

That was the point of the passing comparison with Islam — which, supposedly, is irrational and therefore intrinsically violent, unlike Christianity which is rational and intrinsically eschews coercion.

But this ignores history: Christianity, beginning with Constantine and continuing through the Crusades up until the Enlightenment, routinely “spread by the sword the faith” it preached; Islam sponsored rare religious amity among Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the very period from which the insulting quote comes.

More significant, though, for any discussion of reason and faith is the fact that Christian theology’s breakthrough embrace of the rational method, typified by St. Thomas Aquinas’s appropriation of Aristotle, and summarized by Benedict as “this inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry,” was made possible by such Islamic scholars as Averroes, whose translations of Aristotle rescued that precious tradition for the Latin West.

Benedict makes no mention of this Islamic provenance of European and Christian culture. Indeed, he cannot, because his main purpose in this lecture is to emphasize the exclusively Christian character of that culture. The “convergence” of Greek philosophy and Biblical faith, “with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can be rightly called Europe.” Europe remains Christian. That is why the pope, as Cardinal Ratzinger, opposed the admission of Muslim Turkey to the European Union.

Benedict seems to have forgotten that the European rejection of violent coercion in religion came about not through religion but through the secular impulses of the Enlightenment.

The separation of church and state, in defense of the primacy of individual conscience, was the sine qua non of that rejection of religious coercion — an idea that the Catholic Church fought into the 20th century. Even now, Benedict campaigns against basic tenets of Enlightenment politics, condemning pluralism, for example, and what he calls the “dictatorship of relativism.”

It was my recollection that Europe also tired on the waste and bloodshed of the years of religious wars, in which religious tolerance was a small price to pay. Despite the historical evidence, it would seem that Benedict is “not for turning” with the intransigence of the “true” conservative.

Postscript:

I mentioned Karen Armstrong on Andrew Bartlett, as referred to above. She has an interesting background and set of beliefs as given in her Wikipedia reference.

Then there is another persceptive, a Jewish one, given by Uri Avnery at Counterpoint that gives a summary of the history, who reminds us that followers of Judaism fared somewhat better in Islamic lands than they did in Christian ones.

Juan Cole’s comments on the Pope’s Regensburg address, which I referenced some days ago, ought to be here as well.

SECOND RATE EDUCATION September 25, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Life Experience.
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Harry Messel has decided to have a rant yesterday in The Sydney Morning Herald. The problem with increased numbers he argues is reductions in standards. He suggests that secondary schools do not provide the educational foundation for students to move on to universities, so that the tertiary institutions have to make up for the shortcomings.

Harry Messel says:

It is accepted generally that mass education and quality are a contradiction in terms, especially in the tertiary field, and normally mass education and mediocrity appear to be natural bedfellows. Yet we see many educational practitioners arguing vehemently to the contrary, extolling the virtues of almost free mass tertiary education for all, with its lower standards and paying lip-service to excellence. Their motto seems to be equal opportunity for all to be mediocre rather than equal opportunity for all to strive for excellence.

There is nothing new here. It appears true that mediocrity and numbers go together, which might be suggested by normal distributions of ability, but surely it does not follow that excellence is somehow made impossible.

I take a small interest in such matters because the qualifications I gained have never been of the slightest benefit to me leaving me with the belittling suggestion that I wasted my time in acquiring them.

Having established my bias, I note the education debate is often cast in terms of how individuals have failed institutions, rather than how schooling and tertiary study fails individuals. Education might be about about drawing out potentials that individuals might possess, or at the very least provide for a richer life.It is still true that for most people in this society, I think, their individuality is judged to be of little value and their potential of no importance. It is all about elite players, rather than players, as if life is a game.

There is more to it than suggested at the debate at Putney on 25 October 1647 between Cromwell and Ireton on one side, and various representatives of the army on the other, who history has called for easy generalization, the Levellers. A D Lindsay quotes Colonel Rainboro for the army and the Levellers on the question of who should vote:

Really, I think the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the richest he.

AD Lindsay provides commentary:

That seems to me the authentic note of democracy. The poorest he has his own life to live, not to be managed or drilled or used by other people. His life is his and he has to live it. None can divest him of that responsibility. However men may be in wealth or ability or learning, whether clever or stupid, good or bad, living their life is their concern and their responsibility. That is for those puritans as for all true democrats the real meaning of human equality. Responsibility for one’s own life is something possessed or enjoined on us all. Our equality in that responsibility is of such preponderating importance that beside it all other differences, manifest and undeniable as they may be, are neither here or there. That is not a scientific or common-sense doctrine. It is a religious and moral principle. It is a translation into non-theological language of the spiritual priesthood of all believers.

No doubt the Pope either disagrees or has an alternative view. And yet I cannot but think that the person blinded to their best possibilities or not given an opportunity to discover them is destined to lead a diminished life.

SPECIALIST BLOGS September 24, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
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I understand there are less Politicians Blogs in Australia than in the United States and Britain. As the lead in on Grods Corp, would lists the currently known Politician Blogs, says blogs would appear to an ideal way for politicians to contact their electorate.

My explanation that I made in comment at John Quiggin seems to me to explain this phenomenon.

I suspect the reason that Andrew Bartlett is the most prominent politician blogger is that he is a Democrat, and not held to the same party control as other politicians.

Party control is easier to exercise in relatively small parliaments. Our small parliaments are part of our colonial legacy, which means that the size of electorates in the “representative” assemblies are steadily getting larger in electoral populations. Catch 22, if we were to enlarge them we would have to have a constitutional amendment at the federal level, and increase their running costs, something that would be an electoral anathema.

In this case let us not just condemn politicians. On my blogroll, at least, most of the specialist blogrolls are economists. Where are the other specialists, who might have something to say to a wider educated and interested audience? Ken Parish, we are lead to believe has given up, has given up regular blogging, and there is the collective at Larvatus Prodeo. And of course, I should not overlook Tim Dunlop, Gary Sauer-Thompson, or Tim Lambett.

Clearly, there are more exceptions than I first thought. And now I have realized that I have overlooked David Tiley.

So what is the point of a non-specialist blog?

Postscript: 29 September 2006.

An interesting set of opinions about political blogs at The Road to Surfdom. Bottom line: they do not and cannot amount to a hill of beans.

MEDICATION FOR SWOLLEN THUMB September 24, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Life Experience.
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Last Wednesday my thumb became swollen with a severe ache. I went early the next morning to our local hospital outpatients – which we are very lucky to have available to us.

The diagnosis was my swollen thumb was more likely be to inflection than from a physical cause. I was then put on a course of anti-biotics. When asked if I had an allergic reaction I said I did not. Of course, it turned out I did have an allegric reaction to Cephalosporin. The allegric reaction showed us as a red rash on my ankles and my left knee, with a line of redness at the point of insertion of the cannula.

Originally I was on a drip, direct access to the vien, and then the cannula was abandoned. Then I was given three tablets – they made me groggy and sent me to sleep. Now I am experiencing a sore throat.

I take other tablets for hypertension – high blood pressure – and I was concerned by the possibility of interactions. I am advised by my local chemist, more qualified than the average local businessman, that anti-inflammatory tablets should work. It was also the advice of the second doctor I saw at the hospital.

A small thing I know but it has thrown me off balance.

Postscript: 28 September 2006

A week later the medication leaves me still with a dry throat and a sore tongue, which is getting better but taking time. My thumb is now much better but it is not 100%.

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – DOG NATURE September 22, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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Americans, much like Australians, I read somewhere this week treat their dogs like people. I am not sure whether the qualification “some” or “most” should apply. I know the comments here, which need to be succinct, tend to be anthropomorphic, but my ideal would be to respect their “dog nature”. I adopted this idea from Taoism.

Dexter pauses for a puff. 16 Sept 2006 Posted by Picasa

More relaxing. 16 Sept 2006. Posted by Picasa


Ah! there’s Sasha. 16 Sept. 2006 Posted by Picasa

“Here’s looking at you.” 17 Sept 2006. Posted by Picasa

“What’s up Doc?” 18 Sept. 2006. Posted by Picasa

“Let’s go for a drive?”. 19 Sept. 2006. Posted by Picasa

Enjoy the moment. 21 Sept. 2006 Posted by Picasa

“Let’s enjoy the view”. 21 Sept. 2006 Posted by Picasa

House guest – a Diamond Python? 22 Sept.2006. Posted by Picasa

We and dogs share a common mammalian nature, which does not apply to snakes. I don’t know much about snakes, but this one may be a benign, slow-moving(which I observed) green Diamond Python. It may be of interest to report that Dexter’s barking alerted me to the snake’s prescence. He was standing down the yard. Sasha by contrast went strainght into the grass looking for our visitor.

Postscript:

For some reason, if you wish to enlarge the snake photo, you can click onto it to do so.

ON THE PATH TO GOVERNMENT? September 21, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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I am surprised that this scoop by The Sydney Morning Herald political correspondent has not received more coverage in the blogs I visit.

The report observed:

LABOR would not regain power federally while its factions continued to churn out a production line of “soulless apparatchiks” and the perception existed that the Liberals had a “more credible leadership”, the veteran ALP senator Robert Ray says.

In a scathing critique to the Fabian Society in Sydney last night, Senator Ray – a right-wing factional warlord from Victoria and a former minister – also said the Liberals had better economic management credentials and “much more credibility” on national security.

“It does not matter whether these perceptions are fair, accurate or induced by propaganda,” he said. “They exist and are currently preventing Labor from achieving office federally.”

Pointing the blowtorch at the belly of the Federal Labor Party, Senator Ray observed:

Success at a federal level needed “a caucus brimming with talent” but that was being held back by what he called “the Stasi element”.

“A whole production line of soulless apparatchiks has emerged, highly proficient and professional but with no Labor soul,” he said. “Control freaks with tunnel vision, ruthless leakers in their self-interest, individuals who would rather the party lose an election than that they lose their place in the pecking order.”

He singled out fellow Victorian senators Stephen Conroy – Senator Ray’s own factional creation – and left-wing powerbroker Kim Carr. He called them “factional Daleks” – robots from Doctor Who who screeched “EX-TER-MIN-ATE” and were hell-bent on world domination.

But it seems to be Senator Ray’s view that a Labor Party without factions would be a “Social Democrat Disneyland”.

Then again, the ALP might become like the Liberal Party,in Government and “brimming with talent”, much of it consigned to the backbenchers with little prospect of advancement, and subject to the preferment of the dear leader. The ALP factions might be seen in a better light after government has been achieved, and that will depend in large measure of the upfront leadership.

Postscript: 24 September 2006

Perhaps I was too hasty. There were posts at Public Opinion and The Road to Surfdom, where Tim kindly mentioned my new blog.

 

DIALOGUE OF CIVILIZATIONS September 21, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Multiculturalism.
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The question arises with respect to the Pope’s reference to Islam by way of his quoting the “erudite” Byzantium Emperor Manual II Paleologus as to whether he was misunderstood, or understood too well. I am not quite sure how, to my eyes, the arcane theory of papal infallibility applies here, but it seems to make an admission of error out of place, and so Muslims, however offended might take that into account. Still the Pope has claimed, according to the BBC, he has “a deep respect for Islam”, and that the quote of Manual II did not “reflect his own convictions”.

During his regular speech this week, the Pope said:

I included a quotation on the relationship between the religion and violence. This quotation unfortunately was misunderstood. In no way did I wish to make my own the words of some medieval emperor,” he told thousands of faithful.

I wish to explain that not religion and violence, but that religion and reason, go together. I hope that my profound respect for world religions and for Muslims who worship the one God and which help to promote peace, liberties, justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity is clear.

I trust that after the initial reaction, my words at the university of Regensburg can constitute an impulse and encouragement toward positive, even self-critical dialogue both among religions and between modern reason and Christian faith.”

In any context to say that some of the teachings of the Phophet Mohammed are “evil and inhuman” is very provocative.

It seems to me that the dialogue of civilizations is inestimably preferable to the clash of civilizations, and I had thought it would be comparatively straightforward for the enlightened leaders of the world’s religions to get together and to establish an ongoing meeting of minds with mutual respect. This incident serves to highlight that religious leaders, much as secular political leaders, have issues that delimit the possibilities of negotiation. In the case of Benedict, he has an issue with secular modernism, with which he may find common cause with many leaders within Islam.

That the dialogue of civilizations must occur on multiple levels, and that national conversations may have global significance, may be a source of hope, provided perhaps that preconceived “values” do not preempt any productive meeting between the “I” and the “thou”.

ARMY TAKES OVER IN THAILAND September 19, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.
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The Guardian and the BBC are reporting that the army has overthrown the Thai government. Here is an extract from BBC news:

A faction of the Thai military led by the army chief says it has overthrown Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Soldiers have entered the prime minister’s offices in Government House and tanks have surrounded the building.

Mr Thaksin, who is at the UN in New York, has declared a state of emergency and said he had removed the army chief.

A government spokesman insisted the coup “could not succeed”, and told the Reuters news agency that the government was still in control.

The spokesman said it had not been decided when the prime minister would return home from the UN.

However, in a television broadcast the leadership of the armed forces said it had taken control of Bangkok, declared a nationwide martial law and ordered all troops to return to their bases.

Thailand map

The so-called “Council of Political Reform” they announced is apparently loyal to sacked military commander Lt Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin and has declared its loyalty to the king.

International reaction, and domestic responses, should be interesting.

Postscript: 21/09/2006

John Quiggin via a guest blogger provides some background. Regardless of the circumstances, military coups are not the best method to resolve constitutional or political issues, in my view.

ACCEPTANCE OF MODERNITY September 19, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Multiculturalism.
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We live in a multicultural world ridden with injustice and inequality. The West in the immediate past was the standard bearers of modernity, imperialism and Christianity. The past leaves a shadow on the present, and sometimes from out the historical shadows the ghosts of the past make themselves felt on the present.

I do not know enough about philosophy, yet alone theology, to comment authoritatively. I am not in the same league as the Pope, for example. But it is fun, even stimulating, to speculate. I do not care about religion, although I have more respect for the consistency of spiritual practice, something that Mohammed suggests, than for the apparent consistency of theological dogma. Apparently in his earlier impersonation as Cardinal Ratzinger, the current pope described Buddism as “masturbation of the mind.” As well as being gratuitously insulting to Islam, the Pope in his Regensburg University, in which among other things he spoke of universitas, affirming a catholic religious dogma. Pope Benedix XVI sees it as his role to make a stand against moral, I suspect cultural, relativism. These ideas probably arise from Einstein’s paper on relativity published one hundred years ago in 1905.

Catholicism as an institution and a theology were a medieval creation. The same might be said for Islamic theology. While Plato was not unknown, Aristotle was considered the pre-eminent pagan philosopher. And here Benedix is somewhat disingenuous in not attributing the debt that Christendom owed to Islam for its knowledge of Aristotle. Thus began a process of assimilation and integration, described by Maruice Keen in his A History of the Middle Ages:

The commentaries on Aristotle of Arabic philosophers, such as Avicenna and Averroes, raised further disturbing issues. It was from Arabic translations that scholars Sicily and Spain, and especially at Toledo, first made available to the west Latin versions of Aristotle’s works on natural philosphy.
Aristotle’s teachings were often as difficult to square with the Koran as with the Bible.

With this indebtedness and common history is confronting to see Karen Armstrong write in The Guardian:

. . .The Vatican seemed bemused by the Muslim outrage occasioned by the Pope’s words, claiming that the Holy Father had simply intended “to cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue toward the other religions and cultures, and obviously also towards Islam”.But the Pope’s good intentions seem far from obvious. Hatred of Islam is so ubiquitous and so deeply rooted in western culture that it brings together people who are usually at daggers drawn.
. . .
Our Islamophobia dates back to the time of the Crusades, and is entwined with our chronic anti-semitism. Some of the first Crusaders began their journey to the Holy Land by massacring the Jewish communities along the Rhine valley; the Crusaders ended their campaign in 1099 by slaughtering some 30,000 Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem. It is always difficult to forgive people we know we have wronged. Thenceforth Jews and Muslims became the shadow-self of Christendom, the mirror image of everything that we hoped we were not – or feared that we were.

The fearful fantasies created by Europeans at this time endured for centuries and reveal a buried anxiety about Christian identity and behaviour. When the popes called for a Crusade to the Holy Land, Christians often persecuted the local Jewish communities . . .

Elsewhere the conversation continues. Despite Mark’s best efforts dialogue proves difficult. Just a reminder that the Clash of Civilizations is easier to arrange. Ken Parish introduces Immanuel Kant, whom I suspect has not had much influence on Catholic Theology, more specifically the Pope’s theology.

Because they are medieval, I suspect that both Catholicism and Islam have a problem with modernity, but that may be more true of Catholicism than Islam.

SWEDEN TURNS RIGHT September 18, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Global Electoral Politics.
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There has been another close election. This time in Sweden with the Moderate Party coalition winning by 1% over the Social Democrats.

BBC News reports:

The leader of the Moderate Party declared victory as near-complete results gave him a 1% lead. Mr Reinfeldt, 41, has pledged to trim welfare spending and cut taxes.

His coalition’s victory ended 12 years of Social Democrat rule. Prime Minister Goran Persson accepted defeat, saying his government would resign. His centre-left party has led Sweden for all but 10 of the past 89 years.

Mr Reinfeldt, who promised to reform Sweden’s cradle-to-grave welfare state, took to the stage in Stockholm in front of supporters with his arms raised late on Sunday.
“We ran in the election as the New Moderates, we have won the election as the New Moderates and we will also together with our Alliance friends govern Sweden as the New Moderates,” he said.

Prime Minister Goran Persson said he would step down as party leader

“Tomorrow we will wake up to a new Sweden,” he promised.

WORD PRESS L PLATES September 17, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
2 comments

As you can see I am learning how to do things here. There are several differences from Blogger. I intend to maintain my old duckpond (version one) and blogger duckpond (version two).

Any comments and suggestions will be most appreciated.

BLOGGERS ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM September 17, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
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Ian Buruma reviews Frank Rich’s book,THE GREATEST STORY EVER SOLD – the Decline and Fall of Truth From 9/11 to Katrina. Frank Rich is a columnist and op-ed writer for The New York Times. Here is what he wrote, and as with any quote it deserves to be read in context:

Intimidation is only part of the story, however. The changing nature of gathering and publishing information has made mainstream journalists unusually defensive. That more people than ever are now able to express their views, on radio shows and Web sites, is perhaps a form of democracy, but it has undermined the authority of editors, whose expertise was meant to act as a filter against nonsense or prejudice. And the deliberate confusion, on television, of news and entertainment has done further damage.

There is more to Ian Burumas review of Frank Rich’s book. Still I think anybody who reviews blogs cannot help but notice the uneven quality, and I am not making any claims for this one, if anything the contrary. However, I point out on this and most blogs, contrary views can be expressed. The fact that they do not happen here much is an indication that there are few readers.

PROTECTION AGAINST TERRORISM September 17, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Terrorism Issues.
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The US President, supported by the Australian Government in relation to the Australian citizen, David Hicks, proposes to defend the use of torture and the abandonment of Habeus Corpus in relation to those proclaimed to be enemy combatants and incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay.

Brendan Smith and Jeremy Brecher, via Common Dreams point out:

. . . The President’s proposal seeks to roll back two important decisions rendered by the Supreme Court on the legal rights and treatment of terror suspects: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and Rasul v. Bush. It would establish tribunals at Guanta¡namo that would deny the most basic legal protections required by the Geneva Conventions, allow the use of hearsay evidence and evidence obtained by coercion, and allow defendants to be convicted on the basis of evidence they had never seen.

It also guts much of the War Crimes Act, which makes it a federal crime for an American to commit “grave violations” of the Geneva Conventions. While the Administration claims it is concerned about protecting CIA interrogators, its bill would also protect mercenaries and top government officials from prosecution. And it would apply retroactively to September 11, 2001.

The Senate Armed Services Committee bill, in contrast, aims to establish Guanta¡namo tribunals in accordance with the standards set out in the Supreme Court’s Hamdan decision. And it would leave much more of the War Crimes Act intact. Nonetheless, the Warner bill has some significant flaws.

According to an analysis by Georgetown Law School professor and former Clinton official Marty Lederman, posted on his Balkinization blog, the Warner bill would reverse the Supreme Court’s Rasul v. Bush decision by eliminating the power of the federal courts to hear the habeas corpus claims of any noncitizen detained overseas or any individual who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant “other than in very circumscribed appeals from decisions of the Civilian Status Review Commissions or military tribunals.”

This provision would foreclose hundreds of Guanta¡namo detainee claims currently pending before the courts. J. Wells Dixon of the Center for Constitutional Rights The Nation: “For more than 200 years our nation has adhered to the fundamental principle that our government is one of laws, not men. The Administration and Warner bills threaten that tradition by stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear pending habeas cases brought by Guantánamo detainees. If enacted, these bills would authorize the life-long detention of more than 450 men who have been imprisoned in Guantánamo for nearly five years without ever having been charged with an offense or receiving a fair hearing. This is unconscionable. Every person detained by our nation must receive a fair hearing–one that does not rely on secret evidence or evidence obtained by torture or coercion–because fairness and due process are what America stands for. We would demand nothing less for members of our military if they were captured abroad by our enemies. Congress should reject any provision that abandons habeas corpus.” told

The Warner bill would also amend the War Crimes Act to provide effective legal cover for many of the CIA’s “alternative” techniques–including use of hypothermia, sleep deprivation and threats of violence against detainees and their families.

In short, while some kind of trial for some alleged enemy combatants may well be appropriate, the Warner/McCain/Graham bill should not be seen as an acceptable alternative to the Bush bill. Basic human rights should not be abridged on the back of an envelope without hearings or debate.

Much of the discussion and rhetoric concerning the unspecified Australian values is simply rank hyprocrisy. Succumbing to terrorism could not be more complete, if fundamental values such as the rule of law and abandonment of fair trial procedure is made. For surely, terrorism will reign, as Bin Laden and others intend. Sad to report that those with whom democracy was entrusted may deliver yet the Orwellian state. With such evidence, alarmism is justified.

It is surely incredible that such a state in our societies should come to this pass – and it serves as a reminder that freedoms and liberal democracy cannot ever be taken for granted.

MANDATORY: PREACH IN ENGLISH September 17, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Multiculturalism.
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Andrew Robb declares that imams should preach in English.

We are surrounded by ignorance in relation to Islam. There is less excuse for the Pope than there is Andrew Robb.

In both instances it just goes to show that they have no one advising about matters Islamic. I do not know but I expect it is an Islamic thing to preach in Arabic, very much as it is to read the Qu’ran in Arabic – but I could be wrong.

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – PAIN AND RAIN September 17, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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Rain dominated the first days of the week. It was so heavy on Wednesday that I could not take photos. On Wednesday, Sahsa had a two inch palm spike in her foot. I did not realize what was wrong at first. I thought she had sprained her foot, or broken it, and then I saw the splinter broken off as it had gone deeply into her paw. Sahsa is about 40 kilos or 88 pounds, and I found her too heavy to carry. Therefore I went home for the wheelbarrow. She did eventually sit and I believed enjoyed the ride. I was struggling to carry Sasha, and I was worried I would cause more damage if I dropped her.

At the vet she was dosed with morphine and anti-biotics. Dexter was instrumental in deciding it was time for her bandage to be removed. So Sasha and Dexter were able to go out today. I do not think I solved the problems very well, but it seems to have turned out OK.

Sasha looks through the fence. 09 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

Dexter pauses in his tracks. 09 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

Dexter after the rain. 09 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

Sasha steps out. 09 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

More evidence of rain. 10 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

Sasha enjoys.. 10 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

Something is wrong. 12 September 2006. Posted by Picasa


Attempted splint. 12 September 2006.Posted by Picasa

Sasha travels home by wheelbarrow. 12 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

Dexter caught in the camera flash. 13 September 2006.Posted by Picasa

Dexter with the culprit palm tree. 14 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

Dexter looking toward the sun. 14 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

Dexter on the alert. 14 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

Dexter: solitary stance. 14 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

Dexter seems pleased. 15 September 2006.Posted by Picasa

Sasha and Dexter again – wound evident on Sasha’s left foot. 15 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

Summing up the week – rain and pain. 15 September 2006. Posted by Picasa

The top of the splinter can be seen in the “splint” photo.

I am confident the Carnival of the Dogs will be playing on, and Friday Ark#104 will also be continuing.

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