REDISCOVERING SOCIAL HISTORY December 17, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Adele Horin, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald contents that education is the key to future well being, more so in the modern economy in which job security and income is related to skills. Yes and maybe.
However, her relating of the forgotten social history of Australia is poignant. She writes:
Indeed, a Melbourne historian, Janet McCalman, has shown in a compelling new piece of detective work how the rise of full-time work, and the demise of casual day labouring, helped change the course of Australian history.
A large, desperately poor and dysfunctional underclass existed in Australia for as long as society relied on a big pool of casual labour, where the poor were at the mercy of the weather, trade fluctuations and a laissez faire labour market, she writes in the book No Time To Lose: the wellbeing of Australia’s children.
Large proportions of men in this underclass never married, she found, and the many babies born to poor women more often than not died in infancy. Through tracing the fate of babies born between 1857 and 1900 in the Melbourne Women’s Hospital, which admitted only the poor, McCalman shows how chronic insecurity has a major impact on family.
The main reason poor children’s longevity and health improved, particularly from the 1880s and before antibiotics or immunisation, she argues, was the rise in stable marriage, a regular wage, adequate housing and family planning. The unskilled who made it past World War II took advantage of the growth of decent jobs in the manufacturing industry and government. They escaped the inner-city slums, thanks to public housing, and many saw some of their children finish high school and even university.
“The family is more than a sentimental arrangement: it is a reproductive unit that needs a sound material base,” she writes. And adequacy is not enough – children need economic security.
I am somewhat curious as to why the proponents of, for example, the recent IR legislation did not consider the impact of their proposals on the society. I suppose that the answer is that we all can become blinded by ideology and the solution of immediate problems. And should this be true, it makes a case to reconsider the legislative process that under the circumstances of government control of both houses does not full and careful consideration of legislation.
WHAT IS GOING ON? December 17, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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I never claimed to be particularly insightful concerning the racial riots we have experienced in Cronulla and other areas of Sydney.
However, I find it incredible and unacceptable that some people want to take it further, subject to the provision that the Police are acting with accurate intelligence. We learn to day, as described in this ABC report, that further attacks are intended along beaches from Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong.
I do not understand what those who plan and participate in such activities must be thinking. There are other examples of youthful rebellion, but to my knowledge with the intended use of guns and baseball bats. They seem to be acting as if there is no limits on their behavior.
The “they” in this case, it is reasonable to infer, are young men of Middle Eastern background. Perhaps they could justify their behavior by pointing to the example of the American military in Iraq.
I know and have known a number of people who fall into this category, and they would never behave in this way. While I can recognize that provocations may have occurred, they do not excuse such behavior. The behavior of the people on Cronulla beach last week was inexcusable. It seems that some in the media have been playing the role of provocateurs. And there has been a significant failure of national leadership – but that is what we would expect.
As usual, further events will clarify the situation.
IRAQI ELECTIONS December 17, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Patrick Cockburn, in The Independent, confirms that large numbers of Iraqis, including Sunnis, have turned up to vote in the parliamentary elections.
I doubt whether this will be taken as an opportunity by the Americans to wind down their military involvement, as John Quiggin recommends. He observes:
A staged withdrawal would probably lead to an intensification of the insurgency in the short run. But the end of occupation would reduce support for the insurgents in the long run. It’s not a great option, but it’s hard to see a better one.
I suspect that Bush would regard this response as defeat, not victory. I do not underestimate the difficulties of withdrawing foreign troops. Neverthless, this is an opportunity, not to be missed, of annoucing a timetable for withdrawal. I would further doubt that there will be any positive initiative from the Australian Government.
My understanding is that many Iraqis, this time, as they did in the previous election, are voting with a view to hastening the removal of foreign troops.
Despite all the evidence, I suspect the fantasies of empire are still very much to the fore in the decision making bubble that characterises the Bush Whitehouse, although the name tags of the leading players have changed.
The results will be awaited with interest. It will be interesting to see how Iyad Allawi, the favorite of the Americans, fares. Also of interest will be the participation rates in the various areas. For example, in this report in The Independent the writer observed:
. . . it also appeared that some Shias were staying away, possibly reflecting discontent in the community’s southern stronghold with the performance of the government they had supported overwhelmingly in January.
FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – SEEKING SHADE December 16, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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The problem is twofold: Sasha feels the heat, and Taffy needs to take it easy. When we go out we need to have more water with us, and to stop more often. Hotness is relative, and is affected by humidity. This week we came across a snake with not ill effects, but a warning to pay attention. Otherwise the recuperation of the old mine site after the intervention of heavy earth-moving machinery seems to be going well. Should you wish to enlarge any image, simply click on to it.
. . . and therein lies a story of human intervention.
To see more dogs, other climates and other animals go to FridayArk #65 at Modulator, and to see other dogs check out Carnival of the Dogs at Mickey Musings. You can follow the links on the side bar.
IT’S MY LIFE December 16, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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David Michael Green,(via Common Dreams) in his open letter to Americans quotes Trotsky: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”
Similarly, he says, you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you. The social benefits we have, and often take for granted, he observes have been won by the political struggles of past generations. Often the least interested in politics are those with fewer advantages, and they have the most to lose. Under Bush both the middle and the lower classes are being squeezed for the benefit of the rich, and yet many of those people continue to be disinterested in politics.
What he does not say is that politics is a group and social activity more than it is an individual activity. Individuals cannot engage in politics through television, although they can through talk-back radio, which seems to me to mediate some opinions rather than others. There are no talk-back radio programs catering for Muslims and other minorities, as far as I know, in the way that Alan Jones apparently took up the cause of some residents of Cronulla.
The politics of voice, access and representation are important. That is about voting, and voting systems. So let us not ignore formal systems and democratic processes, which for most groups represents the most direct access and influence on democratic decision making. The politics of pressure groups, more particularly of money and influence cannot be ignored, and are not ignored by decision-makers. There is a ruling class, Virginia, who for the most quietly set the agenda.
If politics is reduced to individuals and individual interest, or apathy, it becomes as David Green says the Greeks observed, the politics of idiocy. There are, in effect, no disinterested observers, only intelligent participants. Hence some of those people, acting and reacting to the history of events at Cronulla can be confirmed as idiots, by this definition. But how could they know better?
THE GROWTH KICK December 14, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Understanding growth, in my view, is about understanding more fully our human nature and our selves with some reference to our biological functioning and environmental setting. Understanding, I think, gives rise to acceptance and wonder that the living world, with few exceptions, turns out so well. Metabolism, the basis for energy and “the pulse of growth” seems to described in some detail and at the level of the cell. The fascinating aspect of growth, which can be seen as inclusive of learning and problem solving, is that it is not an outcome that can be imposed, but is self directed, as the child that learns to walk, or the child that learns to speak. It seems axiomatic that the environment must, or should be, supportive of growth.
As I promised, I would attempt to explicate the axioms or laws of growth:
1.(a)symmetry interwoven. The body is symmetrically configured about its central axis. The left side of the body is close to a mirror image of the right side. And yet different organs, such as the heart and the spleen, are located on different sides of the body, as different functional centres on the brain’s cortex.
2. dorso-ventral arranged. As best as I can work out the backbone is on the dorstal side, and the organs form on the ventral side. For snakes the ventral side is the ground side, and for bipedal humans it is the front. After the ball of cells reaches its required size, the cells begin to specialize into different functional wholes following coherent patterning processes. Here is an explanation along these lines.
The back/front relationship can be observed in the gastrula, which forms after a blastula – the ball or balloon of cells has reached the point whereupon a hole forms and expands to create two levels of cells, so that a half of the cells which were on the surface have tucked themselves as an internal surface so a new ball is formed with an external and internal layer of cells. The external and internal cells specialize. As you must appreciate this is a very general description not based on direct observation.
3. anterio-posterio polarized. There is a pattern of information processing and flow within the body. Every sensation enters from the outside or surface of the body in a circular path to the back of the vertebrae up to back of the brain and informs the responders at the front of the brain that orients the body to the item of interest. Visual images are processed at the back of the brain and then sent forward to front of the brain for action and then reflection.
The frontal lobes are considered to be the most advanced evolutionary feature of human beings. It is the area that actions are weighed on the scale of values, and where intentionality is formed.
Growth can be seen as forward reaching, outward growing, as for example when the baby reaches up to grasp the hanging above him or her in a cot. These actions are coherent and patterned with intrinsic intentionality.
4. inductive-deductive related. As some point tadpoles form into frogs. If you have seen this, you know more than I do. I read the tails gradually shrink, and as that happens the legs form and in doing so kick into action. It is not a manufactured process, like the creation of an artificial arm. In living things function and differentiation proceeds apiece, so form and function become compatable both simultaneously shape one another. The child reaches up and locates the object in space while discriminating by hand and fingers one object and another.
It is argued that growth is a change of in relationships and not a process of external control, and if accepted such a proposition is a fundamentally important conclusion.
5. cephalo-caudal directional. The head grows first and is the largest part of the human baby. The brain forms as a set of specialized cells from the primitive spinal cord, and then that patterning of growth and specialization moves downward to the toes. (I am not quite sure of the tadpole example here, except perhaps the imprint of functionality of processes must exist before or simultaneously in the motor neurons as they take shape as limbs, for example.)
6. proximo-distal extended. There is discusion and description here. Similarly to the head to foot sequential patterning of developing of functionality moves from near to far, so that the patters flows from shoulder, to upper arm to forearm and then to hand and fingers, as it does from pelvis to upper leg, to lower leg and foot.
7. ulna-radial oriented. At least to me this patterning flow is counter intuitive. I would have thought that thumb and forefinger would precede the little finger.
Be advised not to take any of the above observations as been necessarily complete or reliable. Your explanation for these axioms or laws will probably be better than mine. But I hope my effort may help you in your understanding, as it does for me. We have to begin somewhere, otherwise when would the “aha” momemt arrive?
BECOMING A POM December 13, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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. . .and getting out of prison. Now that would be a historical 1 irony of note, since by one account the origin of the disparagement of people English meant “prisoner of mother England.”
Major Mori, David Hicks, appointed defence lawyer, we are told discovered that England was his client’s mother country when telling him how England had defeated Australia at cricket. Picking up on this fact is evidence to me of an alert defence attorney.
The judge of the British High Court specifically said, according to The Guardian, that the Home Secretary had “no power in law” to deprive Hicks of British citizenship, and that “he must be registered.” Then ipso facto, he must be released from the penal colony and military prison in Cuba.
We shall see.
Footnote: 1. Evidence of illiteracy, I am afraid, but I hope the distinction is clear, and more particularly that I have used it correctly. Worst still, so it seems according this source, all of this is a mere urban legend.
GOD ON THE LINE? December 13, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Despite any scepticism I might have suggested, or implied, it seems George W was talking to God, and he heard God talking to him as reported. My sincere apologies to President Bush for not believing him.
At least this report seems to confirm this evidence, adding the intriquing factor that Richard Bruce Cheney, Vice President, who lives up to the position title, was on the
speaker phone intercom impersonating Allah.
SYDNEY ETHNIC VIOLENCE December 12, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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There are doubtless several factors involved in the outbreak of ethnic violence at Cronulla at the weekend. Here are my thoughts for what they are worth.
Firstly, I think a climate has been created by the wedge politics practiced by the Howard Government that in effect makes racist attitudes acceptable, and thereby expressible. The media may have had a role to play here as well. Howard has established a new form of political correctness. He does not accept accountability or responsibility.
Then there is the issue of territoriality. Many of the beach suburbs are predominantly Anglo-Celtic. The same could probably be said for the surfie culture. Then when other groups come down to the beach they are stigmatized. One example, not of current vintage, is the aspersion: “Bennie from Bankstown.” The same thing happens here on the south coast, which represents the closest beach for people living in South West Sydney.
The apparent alienation of young males from Middle East backgrounds is evident to me, when I travel to Bankstown to visit my specialist. I was never sure whether it was a youthful experience, or stereotyping on my part, but objectivley the case it is something for politician to know about. I got the sense of alienation by noticing young, presumably Australian-born boys speaking in Arabic, and driving their cars playing loud Arabic music. Should these observations be significant, alienation is I imagined enhanced for Moslems by their religion. Recent events in the Middle East, together with the long running Palestinian issue, the invasion of Lebanon, the effects of the civil war there, and the public policy reactions in Australia have shown no appreciation of there impact on this part of the population.
Now we are in the escalation process of attack and retaliation. Perhaps certain politicians may begin to understand that they have a duty to be responsible. Fat chance.
Andrew Bartlett is a politician, a Senator, so I refer to his opinions, not to tar all politicians with the same brush. More specifically, I would allege that the prime minister and his electoral advisors have based re-election campaigns on implicit racist messages.
This development is one of the most significant news stories of this year, and can be linked to the threat of suicide bombing, especially the July tube bombing in London, and the terror
The gang and the retaliation mentality seems to be taken hold. It becomes difficult to say which group is the worst. We have individual criminal behavior combined with ethnic polarization and stereotypical thinking. These occasions always represent openings for political opportuntists. I am always struck by the fact, as we might expect to hear, that people proclaim that they are not racist, but they have become racist now, not recognizing that their underlying selective perception and stereotyping, which we are all subject to, combined with the political permission to express such attitudes create conditions that exacerate the issues.
And here is the account of these events, via Associated Press, as reported in The Toronto Star.
The Sydney Morning Herald has a breathless account. Gerald Henderston, columnist, writes mixing information and opinion to create a distorted account.
15 December 2005 - Paul Watson has a reasonable account, and good references relating to the “alienation factor” (versus, I suppose, youthful male behavior) at Troppo. These two variables interact with prejudice and selective perception. I heard on the ABC that people of Lebanese background were not made welcome and offensive behavior. I tend to agree with the consensus reached with my taxi driver yesterday that everybody has a right to be in public spaces without harassment – a classic liberal sentiment I am afraid, right out of John Stuart Mills.
MEXICO AND VIETNAM December 12, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Larry Elliot, economics editor of The Guardian reports Harvard economists, Dani Rodrik considers respectively the progress of Mexico and Vietnam, and finds their economies to expose the myth of economic liberalism.
Mexico would appear to have all the advantages – its common border with the US, membership of NAFTA, and so on, yet Vietnam appears to be doing better, with decreasing levels of poverty. The article then continues:
Rodrik doesn’t buy the argument that the key to rapid development for poor countries is their willingness to liberalise trade. Nor, for that matter, does he think boosting aid makes much difference either. Looking around the world, he looks in vain for the success stories of three decades of neo-liberal orthodoxy: nations that have really made it after taking the advice – willingly or not – of the IMF and the World Bank.
Rather, the countries that have achieved rapid economic take-off in the past 50 years have done so as a result of policies tailored to their own domestic needs. Vietnam shows that what you do at home is far more important than access to foreign markets. There is little evidence that trade barriers are an impediment to growth for those countries following the right domestic policies.
Those policies have often been the diametric opposite of the orthodoxy. South Korea and Taiwan focused their economies on exports, but combined that outward orientation with high levels of tariffs and other forms of protection, state ownership, domestic-content requirements for industry, directed credit and limits to capital flows.
I am not an economist, but empirical evidence of case studies would appear to be one way to evaluate policies.
KYOTO LEASE OF LIFE December 11, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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The behavior of the American Government, particularly in relation to the issue of climate change, borders, to put it kindly, on the verge of the petulant, if not the childish.
Luckily, other governments are capable of behaving like big people, and ignore as best they can the large, loud, ignorant, brat in their midst.
Equally luckily, Americans do not identify too closely with the behavior of their government, I suppose much like Australians, except to feel ashamed. So it is as well that we, in both cases, are unpretentious, not excessively self-orientated, or even nationally narcissistic.
LAWS OF GROWTH December 11, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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It is truly astonishing that most living forms, including human beings turn out as they do looking and behaving much as their parents. Tadpoles turn into frogs. The cuckoos that are laid in magpie nests, that irritate us with their incessant calling just before summer, somehow learn to fly presumably without parents, and then fly off to the island of New Guinea, so that they in their turn can lay their eggs in magpie nests and start the process over again. Babies learn to walk and to distinguish objects, and to speak. Yet in every instance it seems the cells did not just go on dividing, but viable forms were created that work in their physical and social environments.
These statements, however incomplete, can be recognized. They are testable by observation, which is not to say that they can be understood by observation.
Human beings, as with other animals, more like other mammals than, for example, reptiles, are both individual and social. As we learn to walk and talk, we begin to participate in a wider world that paradoxically gives expression to self and individual difference. These developments are as much physical as social expressions, and yet not separate from the other developmental processes, including perception and thinking, nor are they separate from cultural and historical influences.
So the holistic psychologists, such as Wertheimer and Lewin are of interest to me. We can establish that physical growth and development overlaps with psychological growth and development. They may be separate verbal categories but they take place together. For example, the capacity for productive thinking is evidence of growth.
Still looking at the organizational dynamics of physical growth, consistent patterns with claimed universal application have been established. For the moment, I will reproduce these here without claiming I illustrate and describe them more fully and more authenically.
The primary laws, or axioms, of growth can be stated as follows, if growth is considered within the dynamic matrix of movement, change, life and energy.
bi-lateral (a)symetry interwoven
None the wiser? Me neither. Attemped partial explanation, with respect, to follow – in due course.
“Growth” psychology is critized for lack of measurement and quantitative data, but this fails to recognize that it is inherently a crituque of that kind of psychology that relies wholly on measurement, but does not understand what is measured. The question becomes how does measurement, as a form of observation and recording observation, fit into this human framework? While to think many measurements are spurious may simply confirm my prejudice, it is wise to be careful about measurement.
FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – NOW FOR SUMMER December 9, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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As always, I suggest you look over The Carnival of the Dogs at Mickey’s and Planet Ark at Modulator.
LAST THROES INDEED December 8, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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The presence of the COW troops in Iraq does not appear to be making any significant difference. Consider this report from The Guardian of a suicide bombing of bus leaving from Baghdad.
An Iraqi policeman stands over burnt corpses after the suicide bombing. Photograph: Sabah Arar/AFP/Getty
This bombing as an attack on Shiite civilians seems to indicate the emergence of a civil war. If so, the occupation has plainly failed. Recrimations for the next twenty years will follow in America. Whereas, we in Australia will withdraw as safely as we can. Then act as it nothing has happened. Vietnam provides the script.
ABC News Online adds to the story noting:
The attack came exactly a week before Iraqis go to the polls to elect their first full-term parliament since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
WOW! JOE OVERACTS December 8, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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From Robert Frisk, via Common Dreams comes this snippet:
George Clooney’s production of “Good Night, and Good Luck,” a devastating black-and-white account of World War II correspondent Ed Murrow’s heroic battle with Sen. Joe McCarthy in the ’50s — its theme is the management and crushing of all dissent — already has paid for its production costs twice over. Murrow is played by an actor, but McCarthy appears only in real archive footage. Incredibly, a test audience in New York complained that the man “playing” McCarthy was “overacting.” Will we say this about Bush in years to come? I suspect so.
If the original overacts, what chance any actor standing in for him. Seems a good choice to leave him as himself.
A brief review of Senator McCarthy’s anti-communist witch hunt can be read here. You might note that the House UnAmerican Affairs Committee(HUAC) continued until, I think, about 1970.
IN MEMORY OF JOHN LENNON December 8, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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On today’s date, John Lennon would have been celebrating his 65th birthday, had he not been assassinated 25 years ago.
ARAB OPINION December 7, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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I suspect that Arab Opinion is not out of step with overall Global Opinion. I have no evidence for this, other what I think may be the case.
According to the University of Maryland/Zorby poll published last Friday, and as reported in Aljazeera, people in six Arab countries believe the following:
1.The Iraqi occupation and war has brought more terror, and less democracy.
2.Most people got their news from an Arab source, in this case Alzareera, not the American options.
3.The United States was judged to be the greatest threat, and surprisingly France is regarded by Arab opinion is the best light.
The global and former Uber-superpower consistently ignores public opinion, just to show how astute they are, in every other country other than their own, and they do not seem to be doing well there either.
8 December 2005 - Kevin Drum puts it down to the recourse of living inside a bubble, which only allows a self-confirming view. Any of us could do the same thing to some extent. The failure to allow contrary and contradictory assessments leads to the absence of thinking in decision-making. The presumption is that public opinion can be managed, even if they do not agree now, there will be a change when the benefits of the decision imposed are seen.
Since so much executive power dissolves, directly and indirectly, on the president, which is why I think the intelligence and executive ability of that individual is of critical important. Presidents will make mistakes. They do not have to be super humans. They have great human resources at call. They need to be astute politicians. Demanding though they might be, when there is population of 297 million people to select from, it should not be too hard to come up with a list of twenty or so candidates who can fit the bill and do the gig.
Juan Cole again addresses the question as to how to disengage from Iraq without a genocide. I would have thought a multi-national force under the United Nations with limited terms of reference might be possible interim measure, but perhaps one the American Government could not accept.
REFLECTING ON GROWTH December 7, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Which I have been engaging in here somewhat too intermittently. I think I know what it is from a example, but I do not know how it works, although I thinks insight, or more generally intelligence may be a critical factor, when intelligence is understood broadly. We do not just function, we function intelligently and purposely, or not.
My example is learning to ride a bike. My memory is for the first several times I fell off and ran into the kerb, and thought it was all impossible. For some reason, I kept on going, despite critical comments, somehow got a sense of balance, and somehow it all fitted together. Learning to speak English, after a fashion, and learning to read English was similar experience, although different senses and insights are required.
It seems to me, on the basis of this reflection, a persons growth can be interfered with in a negative way. That seems to me not to be interesting( however significant it may for that person’s life story). The more challenging proposition is the question as to how growth can be facilitated and enhanced. The key issue here I am told is relating, which young child have a capacity for, but which is mostly loss with time.
The contrary thought is that while malajustment, however defined, may be bad for the individual, it is good for the society because it creates conflict, and conflict creates a dynamic for change, potentially positive and negative. The striking thing to me is the presence that there is an inner force, or inductive process, for growth – the cells multiply producing organized potential for functioning, people can be intrinsically motivated to learn, while at the same time existing cells die and old behaviors are abandoned.
Kurt Lewin, may be critical in the development of this psychology, because he is the link between Gestalt Theory and Field Theory. Growth is not haphazard. It is positive, dynamic and holistic. If growth could be understood, it would have implications for designing and evaluating learning environments, as well as learning tools, and for critiquing psychotherapies.
POLICE STATE LAWS December 6, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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We now live in a society with aspects of a police state, where abuses and wrongful imprisionment is just a matter of time. The ABC notes that incitement of violence can lead to seven years jail. As I recall John Locke was the proponent of the view there is an entitlement to oppose repressive governments. Police will also be able to detain terrorism suspects, without charge, for 14 days.
What is the nature of the terrorist threat? When the Australian military presence is withdrawn from Iraq, as it will in the foreseeable future, will these laws be rescinded? The answer: no.
Still, any descent person would be ashamed of what he has wrought – if shame were possible.
SEMANTICS OF “TORTURE” December 6, 2005Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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The US Secretary of State, Condi Rice, has conceded that “rendition” of alleged terrorists is occuring, but she is claiming that they are not being tortured but rather subject to interrogation.
The BBC account of the limited confession is here, and analysis if provided by Paul Reynolds of the BBC. Spiegel Online has a number of acticles on this topic, including this one, “America can’t take it anymore“. There may be a mismatch between aspiration and reality. But then, stating the case more forthrigthly, “President Bush is lying to the American People.”
The Secretary of State has made a significant concession, wrapped up in obscurity and denial, from which consequences will flow. The pathetic attempt to spin will not play, although it is inevitable it will have it defenders in the media and elsewhere.
Juan Cole sticks to plain English.