Monthly Archives: January 2012

Imagine for a minute that the book in question has some credibility

A story in the Bible (Numbers 27) where a group of women challenge a rule supposedly laid by God and God goes “hang on a second, good point, I’ll change the rule”:

Then the daughters of Zelophehad came forward. Zelophehad was son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh son of Joseph, a member of the Manassite clans. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and they said, ‘Our father died in the wilderness; he was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin; and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brothers.’

Moses brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: The daughters of Zelophehad are right in what they are saying; you shall indeed let them possess an inheritance among their father’s brothers and pass the inheritance of their father on to them. You shall also say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies, and has no son, then you shall pass his inheritance on to his daughter. If he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest kinsman of his clan, and he shall possess it. It shall be for the Israelites a statute and ordinance, as the Lord commanded Moses.’

Obviously it’s still unfair and crap, in that even after the amendment women remain second to men in these inheritance rules, but still – that’s a fairly radical challenge of authority. They told God that his rule was flawed.

Human: God? This rule is dumb. Please change it.
God: Good point. Okay.

It’s a pity that God doesn’t seem to be around these days, because there are a number of dodgy rules that appear to have slipped through to his followers that could do with some questioning.

(Via The Whole Dang Thing via Slacktivist.)

Also, where was the “violence” at this “riot”?

A riot:

A riot:

A riot:

Not a riot:

Still not a riot:

Still not a riot:

You decide:

If someone can point me to the bit in the footage that shows “violence”, that’d be great. Also if the Opposition could advise whether they’d referred any actual “crimes” to the Police, while they’re beating it up – that’d be enormously helpful in not concluding that they are shameless liars.

Australian Politics in a Digital Age

A Dr Peter Chen at the University of Sydney is doing some research for a book Australian Politics in a Digital Age, and is asking readers of this blog (and a few others) to participate in a survey on their political engagement. If you’re interested, the survey won’t take long.

The results might be interesting.

#AustralianFacts

Some entries from the Welsh woman*’s #australianfacts hashtag on Twitter:

  • @kedgie The Murray River is named after the Red Wiggle, Murray Cook. So is Cook’s Cottage in Victoria #australianfacts
  • @downesy Australia’s highest mountain is Mount Franklin and its longest waterway is Jacob’s Creek #australianfacts
  • @stemcd You can tell the social standing of an Australian by the number of corks hanging from their hat. #australian facts
  • @jeremysear Tennis Courts are named after a famous Australian homophobe, Margaret Tennis. #australianfacts
  • @kedgie The Great Barrier Reef was Australia’s first attempt at border control #australianfacts
  • @jeremysear The High Court was affectionately named for the in-court antics of Sam “Giggler” Griffith and Dick “the Bong” O’Connor. #australianfacts
  • @kedgie The Hairy Nosed Wombat can achieve speeds of up to 70/kmh, and is responsible for 300 deaths a year in NSW alone #australianfacts
  • @geeksrulz The Australian flag is not a colonial symbol except for the bit in the corner. #australianfacts
  • @mitchedgeworth there is nothing more australian than the southern cross, a constellation visible anywhere south of italy #australianfacts
  • @jeremysear The Australian Constitution consists of the first 13 chapters of Deuteronomy. #australianfacts
  • @kedgie The Queens Birthday public holiday celebrates the release of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. #australianfacts
  • @jeremysear Australian footballers are granted droit du seigneur. #australianfacts
  • @downesy When Australians feel they are about to vomit, they reach for a Murray-Darling basin #australianfacts
  • @jeremysear Australia Day celebrates the day in 1788 when God told Margaret Court he’d let her win Wimbledon six times. #australianfacts
  • @colinfry666: Before the introduction of fancy coffees, like capuccino, there was a strict Flat White Australia policy. #australianfacts
  • @jeremysear For those who’ve come across the seas, we’ve boundless plains to share. #australianfacts

*My darling wife

Another epistle from Cory’s Conservative Bullsh*t Network

Liberal Party bullshit merchant Cory Bernadi is back in your email inbox with another serving of smears and lies:

The usual suspects are outraged at the ‘immoral’ determination of Tony Abbott and the Coalition to stop the pernicious trade by people smugglers. Naturally the most vocal critics of the morality of Coalition policy are those whose policies are directly responsible for 14,800 illegal arrivals since 2008 and the deaths of an estimated 600 people.

The most sanctimonious and hypocritical has to be…

The big parties who insist on refusing to allow refugees to arrive by air, who destroy smuggling boats regardless of safety thereby encouraging them to be as disposable as possible, the big parties who would rather waste millions upon millions on mandatory detention than risk a couple of “undeserving” immigrants on Centrelink payments? Tony Abbott who cares so little for refugees drowning that he wants to order the Navy to drag these “leaky” boats back to sea?

No, of course not. It’s the minor party that’s opposed to the present system, whose policies have never been enacted:

The most sanctimonious and hypocritical has to be the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young…

Talking of hypocritical:

…whose rhetoric and clamour for the media spotlight have regularly set new lows in party politics.

On the plus side, being detested by Bernadi is one of the finest testimonies to a person’s character available in Australian politics today. Congratulations Sarah.

Bernadi continues:

For the princely sum (even by Australian standards) of $11,500, a one way trip to Australia is then arranged. This begins with a flight to Malaysia, a quick trip across Indonesia’s porous borders and ultimately, a leaky boat to Australia.

Incredibly, somewhere along this route any legitimate travel and identification documents are lost, leaving little chance of confirming the identity or history of some of the new arrivals.

Presumably if they had legitimate travel and identification documents they’d get on a plane for a fifth of the price. Unless of course we had a system that refused to let people in the country on a plane if they were going to seek asylum here. Which we do.

And if we stopped pretending transporting refugees was a crime and returned the boats that were run safely, then legitimate businesses would enter the market, run safe boats, much cheaper, saving lives and making sure it’s not just those “privileged” desperate refugees who can afford to get on a boat. You know, if you’re serious about all that “what about the poor people who can’t afford a fare” stuff. (Yeah, I know you’re not.)

The demonising and pandering continues:

The advice to the would-be new Australian colonisers is to “have a good story”.

Colonisers?

The entire process is disheartening to anyone that believes our welcoming nation and accepting nature are being taken advantage of.

Welcoming? Accepting? The people paranoid about “colonisers”?

Imagine being the target audience for that article, the sort of person who’d respond not with revulsion directed at Cory, but self-righteous fury at his targets.

ELSEWHERE: And Tim Andrews at Menzies House has turned his fatuous rant against anyone left of John Howard into an email forward. Alienate your family and friends! Send it on! (via R.)

The more you tighten your grip, copyright parasites, the more supporters will slip through your fingers

As Australians continue to be ripped off on digital content (Bernard Keane in yesterday’s Crikey exploring the ridiculous world of ebooks), it’s good to see that some of the former defenders of the copyright industry have now given up on it:

As I suggested in the comments to Keane’s piece, our government should:

  • Stop passing ever more obscene one-sided, ludicrously punitive, unbalanced, anti-public legislation like SOPA, PIPA or – the upcoming and even worse – ACTA.
  • Return copyright terms to some kind of sane length.
  • Stop enabling the exploiting of local consumers. If copyright owners respond to the generous grant by the public of a temporary monopoly (which is what copyright is) by trying to rip us off – then don’t enforce it. Make it a complete defence to a charge of “copyright infringement” if the item in question is not available lawfully in the consumer’s region at the same price as elsewhere.
  • And with region-coding rubbish in media players and consoles – make it clear that if a mod-chip or other circumvention device overcomes a region block that discriminates against local consumers, then it is lawful, even if it has the effect of undoing other anti-copying measures. Give the bastards an incentive to stop trying to gouge us.

The question is: does the Australian government represent Australian consumers or US conglomerates? Could we at least put some pressure on them so that they might consider doing the former?

Why can’t we move interstate freight transport from the highways to rail?

Another hideous example of what happens when you mix transporting people with transporting freight.

Seriously, if you can’t build the necessary rail infrastructure because Australians today are less capable than our ancestors 150 years ago, can’t we at least build freight trucks a separate road or something? Get them away from cars. Everyone who’s driven up the Hume has experienced some twinge of concern for their family and friends as one of these monstrosities hooned past. Trucks and cars do not mix well.

PS When doing your cost calculations for this, please remember to factor in the lives saved.

Improving our skill capability by leveraging global scale of sourcing providers

We’re not making enormous profits and then forcing Australian staff we’ve just sacked to train incompetent but much cheaper overseas replacements, says Westpac – we’re

“improving our skill capability by leveraging global scale of sourcing providers,” a spokeswoman said.

Bravo. I like the way that sentence in no way responds to the allegation that they are in fact reducing their “skill capability” by hiring cheaper, less qualified staff to fund obscene executive salaries.

Just out of interest – and obviously I’m not an economist – what would be the negative effect of offering tax incentives to companies who employ, say, 90% or more of their staff physically in Australia?

I can condemn the Italian captain’s “cowardice” because of all the sinking ships I’ve bravely reboarded

I have been thoroughly cheered by the vigorous denunciation around the world of Captain Schettino abandoning the sinking Costa Concordia cruise liner whilst passengers were still aboard. Allegedly he refused to get back on the ship until either all the passengers were safely off, or until it sank and he could drown with those left behind. So now he’s both still alive and the target of global contempt and condemnation for his failure.

Cheered because I’m assuming that all those mocking Schettino for his “cowardice” have, of course, done similarly brave things in the past themselves. A majority have probably got back on a sinking ship so they can speak from experience, and those who haven’t definitely would have in other circumstances had the courage to stand up, when their body and mind were telling them to panic, and literally taken on board (so to speak) the serious and imminent likelihood of a painful, horrible death, in order to save others.

That so many people have apparently already done this is immensely reassuring. (It’s also reassuring to see how many have, apparently, survived their self-sacrifice so they can now commentate on others’.)

I refuse to countenance the other possibility – that most of the commentary is by self-righteous hypocrites savagely pontificating from the safety of their keyboards about how others they’ve never met, but who hold jobs they’ve apparently romanticised as requiring a willingness to stay aboard a sinking vessel to drown, should be held to a standard of self-sacrifice that they’ve ever managed themselves. That they’ve convinced themselves that somehow tearing down someone else for “cowardice” makes them implicitly more brave themselves – that the more vindictive and nasty they are about this man’s failure, the more it makes them appear to be the sort of heroic people who we should admire. The more they differentiate themselves from this person’s failure, the further from such a failure they must be themselves, even though that doesn’t actually make any sense.

I really hope that’s not the case. Because that would be horrible:

The captain of the Costa Concordia is being pilloried for abandoning his ship and passengers, but would we have shown more courage?

COURAGE is a virtue and heroism is admirable, but do we have a right to demand them? Which of us cannot look back on his or her own life and remember decisions or compromises made, or silences kept because of cowardice, even when the penalties for courage were negligible?

If we are cowardly in small things, shall we be brave in large? Have we the right to point the finger until we have been tested ourselves? When we read of the seemingly lamentable conduct of the captain of the Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino, who left his passengers to their fate, do we say, ”There but for the grace of God go I?”

No, we’re all heroes. All of us condemning the Italian captain have proven ourselves in the same or a very similar situation. We’re not shameless hypocrites!

Meanwhile, apparently the Coast Guard official who bravely climbed aboard the stricken vessel putting his life at risk to save others berated the distressed captain over the phone has become an “overnight star” in Italy.

The rest of us ordinary mortals are left to hope that one day we might have the guts to order, from a safe distance, someone else to sacrifice their life – whilst shouting at them and calling them a cock.

You’re not the internet police

Dear well-intentioned people on the Internet thinking of doing something nasty and destructive out of a misplaced sense of self-righteousness,

I am not comfortable with you tracking down people who write offensive and nasty things on Facebook and contacting their employers.

You are not the Internet police. You are not 4chan. It is beneath you, and it changes no minds. It marginalises rather than educates. It’s indistinguishable from bullying.

Would you like everything you’ve written on a computer to be sent to your employer? Or certain edited highlights? No?

Then don’t do it to others, no matter how horrible they might be. You’re better than that.

Cheers,

Jeremy.