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Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts over the last six weeks.

I won’t bore you by explaining what the problem was. Let’s just hope that 2011 is more restful year!

I have been thinking lately about the seven virtues, and in particular, the first of the cardinal virtues, prudence.

Prudence is sometimes portrayed as having three faces. This is because prudence learns from the past, and thinks about consequences in the future, in order to act rightly in the present.

Prudence does not mean refusing to take risks. Prudence is not fear, but a careful regard for right outcomes.

Prudence is a quality leftist politicians lack.

They do not learn from the past. They do not think about consequences in the future. Consequently they act in the present in ways that, however well intentioned, will not bring about desireable results.

The Clinton administration’s pressure on the banks to increase home lending to under-represented groups in the housing market effectively forced banks to make loans to people who could not afford to repay them.

The intention was good – more members of minority ethnic groups owning their homes. This would, if successful, have been a good thing. People are more careful of what they own, and have a greater stake in maintaining their local community and environment.

But it didn’t work. People who had been given loans they couldn’t afford, well, couldn’t afford them. So they didn’t pay them. So they lost their homes.

The people targetted to be helped were made worse off, because they lost the money they had put into their homes, and were now less likely to get a loan in the future, even one they could afford.

All this was easily predictable.

Consequences for the banks, and therefore the economy in general, and therefore people in general, were also dire.

That was also predictable.

The intention was good, but there was no prudence – no learning from the past, no thinking through of consequences in the future.

In Australia, refugees and the NBN are two obvious examples of a lack of prudence in government action.

Intending to be kind, the Labor party implemented policies which lead to a dramatic increase in the number of illegal immigrants arriving by boat.

‘We will be nicer to you,’ they said. ‘We will welcome you.’ We are not nasty like John Howard.

People who would not have made the journey to Australia except for these changed policies, and for their belief that things were different in Australia now, have died.

That is a bad, and foreseeable outcome. 

Large numbers of people (from three boats a year to 2-3 boats a week) arriving in Australia without proper identification need to be accommodated at taxpayer expense, either in detention or in local communities. This stressful for the immigrants, stressful for workers and communities, and means money has to be diverted from other projects – roads and hospitals, for example.

That is a bad, and foreseeable outcome. 

When people who arrive illegally are accepted as refugees, the number of those people accepted as residents is deducted from the number of people who will be accepted from refugee camps. People who are the poorest and most in need, who have provided identification and waited for processes to run their course, lose their places to those who have the money to bypass the safeguards and make their own way to Australia.

That is a bad, and foreseeable outcome.

Planning for the proposed National Broadband Network demonstrates a similar lack of prudence – of willingness to learn from the past and to think carefully about consequences in the future.

The NBN will cost a vast amount of money. At the planned cost of $43 billion, over $6,000 per household, plus the cost of connection and in-home cabling, plus of course, ongoing plan costs.

Even now it is clear that the NBN offers little advantage over cable or ADSL2+ to people living in metropolitan areas. Those are current technologies.

Two things we learn from the past are that new technologies double the speed of internet access every five years, and that large projects are almost always slower and more expensive to implement than first thought.

On present planning/costing, the NBN will make back the taxpayer’s investment if 70% of people take it up.

In Tasmania, where need was considered significant, the take-up rate has been about 1%.

So the NBN is needed, and will succeed, only if there are no developments in internet technology over the next five years, if competition is stifled, if the price of constructing it does not increase, and if people are coerced into paying more for internet plans that are only marginally faster.

In effect, the government is spending over $6,000 of your money on a plan that will deliver no improvement over likely commercial plans which would have cost the taxpayer nothing.

There is an argument for government subsidy of better satellite based internet access for people in remote areas where commerical provision of fast internet is not viable.

That would be prudent. The NBN is not. Nor are our current policies on illegal immigration.

via Small Dead Animals:

The ETC Group, an international organization supporting sustainability and conservation, has just published its newest report, an 84-page document that presents a lengthy criticism of “the new bioeconomy.” In it, principal author Jim Thomas argues that using biofuels for energy and resources isn’t green — in fact, he says, it’s even more harmful to the environment than coal.

“What’s being presented by the government as ‘the green way forward,’ is this idea that we can use plant matter from crops, trees, or algae and convert it into fuel, plastics or chemicals,” Thomas told FoxNews.com. “And it’s just assumed that it’s carbon neutral. But when you burn something like a tree, you release as much, if not more, carbon dioxide than when you burn something like coal.”

Not to mention the fact that besides not reducing ‘greenhouse emissions,’ large scale diversion agricultural land from food production means (doh!) less food produced, which means higher food prices, which means more hungry people.

All these pious schemes which do more harm than good but which make wealthy Westerners feel good about themselves remind me of the following exchange from the Poirot story The Kidnapped Prime Minister:

Sir Bernard Dodge: You don’t seem to realize, Poirot, this is a national emergency. I do not intend to sleep until the Prime Minister is found!
Hercule Poirot: I am sure it will make you feel very virtuous, Sir Bernard, but it will not help the Prime Minister! For myself, I need to restore the little grey cells.

In any case wasteful and expensive ‘green fuels’ are just not needed. It is now clear we have vastly more energy reserves than was imagined even two years ago, which means enough cheap fossil fuel to sustain steady growth in the West, and rapid growth in developing nations for many generations to come.

And just for the heck of, and in case you missed it earlier this year:

African Crops Yield Another Catastrophe for the IPCC (but fortunately, not for Africans).

Or maybe not.

Sarah tweeted that she wasn’t happy with low-life leftist website Gawker (no link for them!) quoting large passages of her new book out of context, and without her permission.

This was Gawker’s reply:

“Did you catch the excerpt we posted yesterday from Sarah Palin’s new book? Sarah did. She tweets with rage: “The publishing world is LEAKING out-of-context excerpts of my book w/out my permission? Isn’t that illegal?”

[Sarah: If you’re reading this—and if you are, welcome!—you may want to take a moment to familiarize yourself with the law. Try starting here or here. Or skip the totally boring reading and call one of your lawyers. They’ll walk you through it.]

Oh Sarah, you’re so dumb. Reading that legal stuff will be too hard for you, so just get a lawyer to explain it to you, slowly.

Except…

From Gateway Pundit:

Unfortunately for Gawker, they don’t seem to have read their own links.  Or perhaps they simply didn’t comprehend them as explained to them, no doubt, by their attorneys. Harper Collins, Palin’s publisher, promptly asked for and received an injunction against Gawker Media, asking that the site be banned from what it termed “further copyright infringement.”  The injunction prohibits Gawker from “continuing to distribute, publish or otherwise transmit pages from the book” pending a hearing on Nov. 30.

The Other McCain has a copy of the court order.  He adds: The judge found probable cause that Gawker violated copyright and ordered Gawker to pull the leaked pages and appear in court to defend themselves and explain why this wasn’t a violation of copyright and why the leaked pages shouldn’t be permanently removed. This temporary restraining order prevents Gawker from potentially further violating copyright by keeping the pages up until the court date. Date set for Nov. 30th. This is a huge victory for HarperCollins’ lawyers.

And..

MacRanger at Macsmind is reporting that under US copyright law each page could cost Gawker up to $500,000 in penalties. (Gawker excerpted from 14 pages.) A spokesperson for Harper Collins told me that “Substantial Damages will be sought”. “We intend to put them out of the business of printing protected material ever again.”

I am not a vengeful person, but there is a certain satisfaction in seeing the self-righteous smuggery of professional mockers like those at Gawker get their come-uppance.

Oh my goodness, the legacy media really are a laugh a minute.

Three examples:

Pope changes view on condom use.  No he hasn’t.

Pope Agrees Condom Use Can Be Justified. That’s not what he said.

Pontiff Blesses Condom Use. Did you even read what he said?

OK, then, what did he say?

Basically, that in some circumstances, the use of a condom by a male prostitute might indicate an awakening of a moral sense, or at least a recognition that sexual pleasure is not the highest good.

So condoms are OK?

Hardly.

What Pope Benedict said was that, possibly, for a male prostitute to use one might be an indication of the beginning of a journey towards the development of some responsibility, of concern for others.

See the last paragraph in the excerpt below.

From Jimmy Akin’s blog at the National Catholic Register:

Seewald: . . . In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church’s own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.

Benedict: . . . In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease.

As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.

Note that the Pope’s overall argument is that condoms will not solve the problem of AIDS. In support of this, he makes several arguments:

1) People can already get condoms, yet it clearly hasn’t solved the problem.

2) The secular realm has proposed the ABC program, where a condom is used only if the first two, truly effective procedures (abstinence and fidelity) have been rejected. Thus even the secular ABC proposal recognizes that condoms are not the unique solution. They don’t work as well as abstinence and fidelity. The first two are better.

3) The fixation on condom use represents a banalization (trivialization) of sexuality that turns the act from being one of love to one of selfishness. For sex to have the positive role it is meant to play, this trivialization of sex—and thus the fixation on condoms—needs to be resisted.

So that’s the background to the statement that the press seized on:

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality. [EMPHASIS ADDED]

There are several things to note here: First, note that the Pope says that “there may be a basis in the case of some individuals,” not that there is a basis. This is the language of speculation. But what is the Pope speculating about? That condom use is morally justified? No, that’s not what he’s said: that there may be cases “where this [condom use] can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way to recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed.”

In other words, as Janet Smith puts it,

The Holy Father is simply observing that for some homosexual prostitutes the use of a condom may indicate an awakening of a moral sense; an awakening that sexual pleasure is not the highest value, but that we must take care that we harm no one with our choices.  He is not speaking to the morality of the use of a condom, but to something that may be true about the psychological state of those who use them.  If such individuals are using condoms to avoid harming another, they may eventually realize that sexual acts between members of the same sex are inherently harmful since they are not in accord with human nature.

Israel’s Top Ten Airport Security Technologies

The technologies are interesting and certainly work. But what seems to make the most difference is the thinking.

“Israel concentrates on the passengers and not their luggage so we have a real edge over the rest of the world in protecting travelers,” says Rafi Sela, a top security consultant and former chief security officer at the Israel Airport Authority. “This is in addition to us protecting the whole airport, while the others merely try to achieve aviation security.”

In other words, it’s about the people, not the bags, and it’s about the whole airport, not just the planes.

Also:

“You can’t do security with political correctness. As long as you are doing it without a real plan, it will never work.”

First:

‘Social justice’ is a key identifying phrase, a shibboleth, for liberal/progressives. Conservatives are assumed not to care about social justice, being concerned only with making money and reducing taxes.

Then why is it that conservatives give more to charity, and are more likely to be involved in their communities as volunteer fire fighters, ambulance officers, etc?

Informaworld has an interesting article on social justice from a conservative perspective.

Bruce Thyer points out that conservatives are just as concerned about social justice. We just differ about how the best results are to be achieved.

Second:

The Australian Services Union is demanding that women be paid as much as men.

But in Australia, women are paid as much as men for the same work. It’s the law.

Nonetheless, on average, women do earn slightly less than men. The ASU wants this fixed. It’s unjust!

But the difference is not because women are victims of discrimination. It is simply because they make different choices.

Women tend to opt for safer, more comfortable jobs, jobs that have predictable hours and involve less travelling. They are more likely to work part-time, and to retire earlier.

More at Carpe Diem, including this, from a report prepared for US Department of Labor:

‘The differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.’

Sophie Mirabella is one of my favourite Australian politicians.

She is hard working, honest and intelligent – a possible future Prime Minister, and one who would be vastly more effective, in part because she has vastly more integrity, than the present incumbent.

Ben-Peter Terpstra calls her a Greek goddess in comments on the Australian Conservative website on an article by Sophie in The Punch.

Sophie offers Julia Gillard some helpful advice. Namely, mean what you say, say what you mean, and do what’s right.

I won’t quote from either Ben or Sophie. Both are worth reading in full. And the comments on Ben’s article are an amusing dialogue between shallow leftist trolls and reasonable people attempting to reason with them.

P.S.

‘Mean what you say, say what you mean, and do what’s right’ could be Sarah Palin’s motto.

Despite liberalist frenzy and legacy media blackwashing, people like her because she is straightforward, has faced the problems they face, loves her family and her country, knows how to run things, and has a vision for the future.

The usual liberal complaint about anyone who disgrees with them is “He’s stupid, ‘She’s stupid.’

But I defy anyone to read Sarah Palin’s thoughtful and well-constructed open letter to new Republican members of Congress, and believe anything other than that she is caring, intelligent, and capable.

I remember seeing a guy a guy who had been asked to leave several supermarkets interviewed on TV.

He objected to being told ‘Have a nice day’ by checkout operators.

Fair enough. It is a silly, empty phrase.

But he responded by abusing the employees. These were mostly teenage girls in their first jobs, who were doing what their employer had asked them to do.

Abusing them was pointless bullying.

I feel the same about airport employees who are now required to implement intrusive and embarrassing security measures, incuding full body scans or searches.

Ann Coulter writes incisively (as usual) about this, and how silly and misguided these airport security measures are:

She notes:

After Muslim terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria tried to detonate explosive material in his underwear over Detroit last Christmas, the government began requiring nude body scans at airports.

The machines, which cannot detect chemicals or plastic, would not have caught the diaper bomber. So, again, no hijackers were stopped, but being able to see passengers in the nude boosted the morale of airport security personnel by 22 percent.

This is amusing, but unfair. It is like blaming checkout operators for ‘Have a nice day.’

I am sure most security personnel find it embarrassing and frustrating to have to pat down nuns and three year olds.

They are not responsible for the utterly ridiculous policies implemented by their political masters.

Ann Coulter again:

It’s similarly pointless to treat all Americans as if they’re potential terrorists while trying to find and confiscate anything that could be used as a weapon. We can’t search all passengers for explosives because Muslims stick explosives up their anuses. (Talk about jobs Americans just won’t do.)

You have to search for the terrorists.

Fortunately, that’s the one advantage we have in this war. In a lucky stroke, all the terrorists are swarthy, foreign-born, Muslim males. (Think: “Guys Madonna would date.”)

This would give us a major leg up — if only the country weren’t insane.

Terrorists are not all foreign born. And I wouldn’t be surprised if islamists started using 3 year olds to carry explosives onto airplanes.

But the key word in that sentence is ‘islamists.’

There are no Jewish, Presbyterian, Baptist or Buddhist groups which have an announced policy of destroying the West, and who have proven their seriousness by repeatedly blowing up embassies, churches, and schools.

Targetting Muslims may be unfair to the majority. But as long as a substantial number of muslims living in the West believe suicide bombings and violence in the cause of Islam are acceptable, and as long as Muslim leaders do not consistently, clearly and frequently denounce such violence, the rest just have to wear it.

Is that unfair? Yes.

But it is less unfair than implementing security procedures which humiliate everyone while achieving nothing.

Proof of psychic powers? Actually, no.

Just proof that academics are not easily able to think beyond their preconceived notions.

Professor Daryl Bem says his work shows most people have psychic powers.

He conducted nine different experiments on over 1000 students. Eight of the experiments showed some psychic ability.

I am willing to bet that the experiment that didn’t was the only one that was properly designed.

Example:

One experiment asked students to memorise a list of words, and then asked them to recall as many as they could.

The students were then asked to type a list of the words randomly selected – which tended to be the words they had earlier recalled.

It suggests they knew which words were going to be selected to be typed.

No it doesn’t.

The question is, how were the words to be typed selected ‘randomly’?

If they were just picked by another person, all this means is that some words have more impact than others, and that those words are more likely to be remembered, and chosen.

It is amazing to me – a non academic, but someone trained in problem solving – how quickly academics jump to the wrong conclusion, and how firmly they then insist on those conclusions being accepted.

I have a friend who is a PhD candidate. She is studying changes in Black Brim populations. Black Brim are a common fish in South Australian waters.

Her thesis is that Black Brim numbers have declined over the last fifty years because of changes in water quality.

She is extraordinarily diligent in examining ear bones from Black Brim. This enables her to track changes in water quality over the life of the fish.

I have no doubt she can get an accurate picture of water quality over the life of any individual fish.

But there are three problems with her thesis.

She has no idea how many Black Brim there really were fifty years ago. There were no accurate counts.

She has no idea whether water quality now has deteriorated in ways that affect Black Brim compared with fifty years ago. There were no accurate measures.

She has no idea whether other factors (eg, fish just move) might account for changes in Black Brim populations in the small area she is studying.

I asked her, since her theory was that fish numbers had declined because of changes in water quality, whether she thought it important to have accurate measurements of fish numbers and water quality from fifty years ago.

She insisted it was OK, because she had accurate measures of fish numbers and water quality now.

But surely, I insisted, if she was claiming changes in fish numbers over fifty years were a result of changes in water quality, she had to know what the numbers and water quality were fifty years ago.

She told me she could measure changes in water quality through studying ear bones.

OK. That tells you about changes over the life of an individual fish, but nothing about what the starting point was fifty years ago.

Nope. She just didn’t seem to understand the question.

Well, it doesn’t matter, really. She’ll get her PhD and work for Natural Resources and ruin a few fishermen’s businesses, or spend her life telling farmers to use less fertiliser.

Not much harm done.

But lots of harm is done in other ways.

As an example, there are reduced rates of HIV infection in males who have been circumcised.

So of course there claims that male circumcision acts as a ‘vaccine’ against HIV infection.

A couple of days ago the Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, called on male MPs to be circumcised to give a moral example to others, and to help reduce the rate of HIV infection.

It seems blindlingly obvious to me that many men who are circumcised are either Jews or Muslims, and that differences in sexual behaviour in those groups would better account for the very small measured differences in rates of HIV infection.

Certainly behavioural differences might be worth investigating before spending vast amounts of money ramping up ‘circumcision services.’

But no, the World Health Organisation is right behind the circumcision prevents AIDS theory.

This won’t work. It is cruel and irresponsible. In fact, like dishing out condoms, it is likely to increase rates of HIV infection, because it encourages people to think they are safe.

The only thing that has been shown to make a long term difference to rates of HIV infection is changes in behaviour.

But that is an unacceptable conclusion, so Africans continue to be given advice which is known to be, or should be known to be, wrong. And more Africans die.

Africa has suffered enough from AIDS.

We have all suffered enough from the consequences of shoddy thinking.

Julia Gillard is not stupid.

But as Forrest Gump said, ‘Stupid is as stupid does.’

And there could hardly be anything more stupid than putting a punitive tax on the resource – cheap carbon fuels – that has underpinned the fastest ever growth in development and standards of living around the world, including health and education, and without which there would be no modern industry, no fast, economical transport, no large scale agriculture providing cheap food, etc, etc.

There is simply no reason for such a tax. The world is not running out of oil or coal.

So this claim by Ms Gillard is nonsense:

‘The alternative is very stark, if we continue to do nothing we will pay a heavy cost – electricity prices will spiral up. Our power supplies will begin to run short.’

No, our power supplies are not going to run short and cause spiralling prices.

But putting unnecessary taxes on energy resources will push prices up, causing industry to move offshore, and impacting especially harshly on poorer families.

So why do it?

Because human activity is causing the world to warm catastrophically?

If that’s the real reason, Julia, just say so. If you can prove it, I’ll back you 100%

But before you impose even more taxes on Australian businesses and families, I suggest you do some reading:

How Not to Measure Changes in Temperature

Anyone interested in education should read this article, ‘The Shadow Scholar,’ in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

‘Ed Dante’ makes a living writing essays for school and university students.

A teenager asked me a couple of week ago whether school and university qualifications were of benefit in finding work in the IT industry.

I said no. School and university qualifications are not generally regarded as providing objective evidence of actually knowing anything, or being able to do anything.

Partly this is because school results, and to a lesser but still significant extent, university results, are an indication, not of skills, knowledge, or ability, but of how much of an effort the teacher thinks has been made, given the student’s struggles, limitations and background.

In other words, a poor student from a home background of drunkeness and violence is likely to be given grades equal to those of a very good student who does not face those difficulties.

This may be kind and motherly and caring, but it is of no help to employers, nor, in the end, to the student.

It also helps if you agree with the teachers’/lecturers’ perspectives and generally suck up to them by pretending to be interested in what they say.

Industry qualifications have no such issues. No one cares if your mother was a heroin addict, or if you have dyslexia or ADHD, or if you think the lecturer is a really cool guy. You do the study, you go to an exam centre, you prove who you are, you take an exam with a high fail rate (up to 90%) in a secure environment with cameras or real people watching you, and you pass or fail.

There is no lily-livered nonsense about some people not coping with exams. If they can’t cope with exams they are not going to cope with the pressures and stress of a real-world job.

And the result is that employers have confidence in the qualifications that are awarded. They show that a person really does know what he or she says she knows, and can do the work he or she says he can.

Some cheating occurs, of course. You can probably slip the manager of a testing centre in Pakistan $1000 to let someone else take the test for you.

But nothing compared with the wholesale rorting of ‘continuous assessment’ at schools and universities.

A couple of quotes from the article:

You would be amazed by the incompetence of your students’ writing. I have seen the word “desperate” misspelled every way you can imagine. And these students truly are desperate. They couldn’t write a convincing grocery list, yet they are in graduate school. They really need help. They need help learning and, separately, they need help passing their courses. But they aren’t getting it.

For those of you who have ever mentored a student through the writing of a dissertation, served on a thesis-review committee, or guided a graduate student through a formal research process, I have a question: Do you ever wonder how a student who struggles to formulate complete sentences in conversation manages to produce marginally competent research? How does that student get by you?

I live well on the desperation, misery, and incompetence that your educational system has created …

… for the first two types of students—the ESL and the hopelessly deficient—colleges are utterly failing them. Students who come to American universities from other countries find that their efforts to learn a new language are confounded not only by cultural difficulties but also by the pressures of grading. The focus on evaluation rather than education means that those who haven’t mastered English must do so quickly or suffer the consequences. My service provides a particularly quick way to “master” English. And those who are hopelessly deficient—a euphemism, I admit—struggle with communication in general.

Two days had passed since I last heard from the business student. Overnight I had received 14 e-mails from her. She had additional instructions for the assignment, such as “but more again please make sure they are a good link betwee the leticture review and all the chapter and the benfet of my paper. finally do you think the level of this work? how match i can get it?” …

… it’s hard to determine which course of study is most infested with cheating. But I’d say education is the worst. I’ve written papers for students in elementary-education programs, special-education majors, and ESL-training courses. I’ve written lesson plans for aspiring high-school teachers, and I’ve synthesized reports from notes that customers have taken during classroom observations. I’ve written essays for those studying to become school administrators, and I’ve completed theses for those on course to become principals. In the enormous conspiracy that is student cheating, the frontline intelligence community is infiltrated by double agents.

One of the arguments for the existence of God is that without God, there can be no objective moral standards. Rights are whatever we decide they are, good and bad are whatever we decide they are.

But we all do acknowledge objective standards of morality – some things are good, and some things are bad, no matter what anyone, or any particular society says about it.

Therefore these standards do exist. Therefore God must exist.

I don’t think this is a particularly compelling argument.

It is entirely possible, even if there were no God, that it could be useful from an evolutionary point of view for us to believe in objective moral standards, even though, of course, no such standards would or could actually exist.

But the non-existence of objective ethical standards is nonetheless problematic for atheists who wish to claim that atheism is as intrinsically moral as the teachings of Jesus (more, as they see it, because based in reality) and leads to just as ethical and caring a society.

Atheists are fond of pointing out the horror stories (again, as they see it – careful examination of the facts often tells a different story) in Christian history. The Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition, for example.

But it is worth keeping in mind that the Soviet Union killed off in an average day approximately the same number of people as the Spanish Inqusition sent back to secular authorities to be executed in its entire 300 year history .

We take the equality of women, kindness to children, fairness in dealing with strangers, etc, for granted, precisely because we have 2000 years of Christian history behind us. These values are so normative for us that we assume they are shared by everyone.

But history shows this is not the case.

Jeff Jacoby on Town Hall has more:

It may seem obvious to us today that human life is precious and that the weakest among us deserve special protection. Would we think so absent a moral tradition stretching back to Sinai? It seemed obvious in classical antiquity that sickly babies should be killed. “We drown even children who at birth are weakly and abnormal,’’ wrote the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger 2,000 years ago, stressing that “it is not anger but reason’’ that justifies the murder of handicapped children.

Reason is not enough. Only if there is a God who forbids murder is murder definitively evil. Otherwise its wrongfulness is a matter of opinion. Mao and Seneca approved of murder; we disapprove. What makes us think we’re right?

The God who created us created us to be good. Atheists may believe — and spend a small fortune advertising — that we can all be “good without God.’’ History tells a very different story.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air points out that criticism of Barack Obama’s performance at the G20 is not confined to the usual Obama rationalists like the Wall St Journal.

Even the San Fancisco Chronicle notes that this recent trip to Asia extends a long losing streak which grows out of catastrophically declining credibility in the US and overseas.

The lack of credibility grows out of perceived inconsistencies between policies and reality, promises and actions.

Like Ed, I can honestly say that I thought right from the beginning that such an outcome was inevitable.

Barack Obama has no business experience, no military experience, and has never run anything in his life.

I was gobsmacked when he was elected, and am gobsmacked still, that anyone seriously thought they had any reason to believe he was qualified to be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.

I wouldn’t give him a job running a cake stall.

This is just for World of Warcraft players.

And all I want to say is that for pure levelling, grinding works.

This is a partial screen shot of my level 70 death Knight, grinding a spot in Howling Fjord. Unrested – yes unrested –  XP per hour is around 195k.

Death Knight Grinding, Howling Fjord

In the olden days, a year ago, the fastest way to level was questing. But with the PUG system, I now think the fastest way is to find a good grinding spot (the one above will run you from lvl 69 to lvl 72 without problems), stay there, and constantly re-queue for dungeons.

Of course, doing quests is a large part of the fun of the game. But for pure levelling speed, it’s now grinding and instances.

One more showing rested XP, for those who were inclined to doubt:

Death Knight Grinding Rested XP

95% of my customers are great – patient, considerate, etc.

And then there’s the other 5%.

Just two examples.

It is time to close. I have swept the floor, closed all the photo processing equipment down, and am tallying up the till.

A woman comes in. ‘I need some photos done,’ she says.

‘Sorry, we close at 12. I have turned all the machines off.’

‘But I need these done today.’

‘We’ll be here at 8.30 on Monday. If you come in then we’ll do them for you straight away.’

‘That’s no good to me. I need these this afternoon.’

‘I’m sorry. I can’t help you. Even if I turned the machines on again, it would take at least half an hour to process, and I have appointments after work.’

Assorted insults…

Hmm…

What I felt like saying, of course, was that if it was that important to her that her photos be done that day, she should have made sure she got to the shop before closing time.

It’s the same with those airport documentaries showing people having hissy fits because they are late for their planes.

If it is that important that you get on your plane, make sure you get there on time, for heaven’s sake. And if you don’t, it’s your fault, not the airline staff’s. Grow up and take some responsibility.

Second example.

Sleazy, smelly guy with bits of food crusted around his mouth, married to attractive and intelligent woman 25 years younger than him. Has got several nasty viruses on his wife’s computer because he has been using it to look at porn while she is away. Has to be fixed before she gets back.

OK, whatever. I fix the thing. He takes it home. Three days later he rings again.

‘This computer is infected again.’

‘OK. How did that happen?’

‘I don’t know. I was just looking at some websites and these warnings started coming up.’

‘Ah. All right. Well bring it in to me, and I’ll clean it off again.’ 

‘You’ll do it free this time, right? This is follow-up service.’

‘No.’

Assorted insults.

This was a customer I wasn’t anxious to please anyway, but even if it had been someone I liked, the answer would have been the same.

It would be like someone driving thier car into a tree, taking it to the panel beater and getting it repaired, then driving into the same tree again and demanding the panel beater fix it free the second time.

And it comes down to the same thing – people not taking responsibility for their actions.

It is a disease our governments encourage.