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You’re called to save the life of a teenage boy suffering a seizure. You can’t, or in any case, you don’t. Then when you find out who his family is, you try to blackmail them. Allegedly.

In an article on Real Clear Politics, Thomas Sowell wrote: ‘No one in his right mind would say that the Bush administration was flawless. But many of their worst political mistakes were the kinds of mistakes that decent people often make when dealing with indecent people, both domestically and internationally.’

The same could be said of Keith Windschuttle and the recent hoax of Quadrant magazine. Quadrant is an Australian magazine of politics, literature, history, art, etc – virtually anything that might be of interest to people who think. It has minimal staff resources. It is not a specialist journal.

The Jan/Feb edition of Quadrant contains an article by one ‘Sharon Gould’ entitled Scare Campaigns and Science Reporting. It is well written. It contains some rather odd views about the potential use of human DNA in genetically engineered crops, but one of the things that makes Quadrant a great magazine is that it has never been run as the editor’s personal newsletter. Views that diverge from the mainstream can get a hearing if they are well written, and carefully, interestingly and logically argued.

So when someone writes such an article, and then jumps up triumphantly and says ‘ Ha ha, I didn’t really mean it. And Sharon Gould is not my real name. And what’s more, I faked some of the footnotes,’  it is hard to respond in any other way than to say ‘So?’ or perhaps, ‘OK, you are a liar who writes well. How disappointing for your friends.’

As Keith Windschuttle has pointed out, in the case of a non-specialist, non peer reviewed magazine, there is a point beyond which editors have to trust their writers. Accepting the article was a mistake. It was the kind of mistake easily made by a decent person used to dealing with decent people.

No, men and women are both from Earth. But what planet is Jimmy Carter from? ‘Hamas Can be Trusted.’

‘According to the former president, Hamas never deviated from their commitments as per the ceasefire agreement.’  It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

He has one thing right though, Hamas can be trusted – to try do what they have said they plan to do, what their charter tells the world they intend to do; obliterate Israel and murder Jews.

Sadly, they don’t seem to mind murdering Palestinians who disagree with them either, but I’m sure it’s a case of you know, like, hey, if you want to make an omelette…

About what seemed to be a startling lack of graciousness in Obama’s inauguration speech. But she says it better.

And probably will be…

Via Instapundit, this story of an EU official who says Hamas bears ‘overwhelming responsibility’ for the destruction of Gaza.

Of course he also goes on to say some nasty things about Israel killing civilians, but heck, then he tells Hamas off for using civilians as human shields, and for fighting in populated areas.

Well done mate!

Hamas spokesmen are apparently shocked by his comments.  Oh dear.

Despite Peter Garrett’s angst, I think this is possibly a reasonable option, if only because it will stop some of the whining from local anti-whaling activists.

However, stopping any taking of Minke Whales in Antarctic waters may not be a good thing for endangered whale species.

Minke Whales are widely distributed and abunbdant. On the IUCN red list of possibly endangered species, Minke Whales are in the bottom category – Least Concern.

Because they are abundant and range so widely, they compete for krill with endangered whale species such as the Blue Whale, which not do not have the same flexibility in choosing their habitat.

An argument could be made for culling of Minke populations in some places, for example in Antarctic waters, on the grounds of protecting those more endangered species.

There is no environmental reason for refusing to allow whaling nations to take a limited number of Minke Whales.

There is no other reason either. Modern explosive harpoons are accurate and quick, and as humane as factory methods of killing meat animals such as sheep or cattle. Minke Whales, like cattle, are essentially grazing animals, and have about the same level of intelligence – certainly much less than pigs.

As far as I can see, no one who eats bacon has any logically valid or ethically consistent reason to oppose a carefully managed quota based system of hunting Minke Whales.

I am happy to be convinced otherwise, by salient facts marshalled in a carefully crafted argument. Ranting and calling me a bastard won’t do it.

Good Lord Deliver Us.

There should be a rule that anyone wishing to enter public life should have worked with his or her hands, and should have owned, or at least managed, some sort of business. This would help to get rid of the idea that there is such a thing as free money, which the government can use for projects, such as saving the economy or creating jobs. I shudder whenever I hear politicians talk about job creation schemes.

In the latest plan from the Australian Federal Government, some $2 billion of tax payer funds is going to be used to provide loans to commercial property developers. The four largest banks in Australia are also being asked to put in $500 million each.

Why would this be necessary? The answer is that in the present circumstances developers may not be able to access funds to finance or refinance their projects.

But hang on a minute. Wasn’t the root cause of the present recession US government interference in the banking sector, and in particular, pressuring banks to give loans to people and organisations which would not have qualified under normal lending criteria, and in many cases were not able to repay the loans they were given?

So how is doing the same thing with taxpayer funds going to solve problems in Australia? Of course it won’t. It’s plain silly. If bankers operating under normal commercial guidelines don’t consider a particular project or property developer to be an acceptable risk, then the government giving them a loan is not a reasonable or responsible use of tax payer money.

Part of the problem is that many politicians do not seem to understand that there is no free money. Money they give to their pet projects, including unprofitable businesses, has to be taken from businesses which are actually producing something and making a profit in doing so, or from people employed by those businesses.

Taking money from people and organisations which are producing wealth, employment, and taxation income, and giving it to people and organisations which are not, will not save us from recession. Ultimately such policies undermine the economy, including the social welfare structure and safety net.

Outstanding. He can cut off anything he likes as far as I’m concerned.

And if that sounds harsh, well tough. The movie Wolf Creek, which was based in part on Milat’s murder of seven backpackers (it’s a vile film, I don’t recommend it), did not exaggerate the horror of Milat’s treatment of his victims. What he has done to himself doesn’t amount to the tiniest, miniscule part of what he did to young men and women visiting our country.

Sadly, if he hopes it is going to win him some sympathy and attention, he may be right. But not from me.

Darn. Having said that, I also have to say that I hope and pray for his ultimate redemption. It will not come easy, because forgiveness requires repentance, which means understanding and taking responsibility for the harm you have caused.

Also, we do not know what made him the way he is, or how he came to make the choices he did. But at some point he gave himself permission to do things which were unspeakably evil, and it it is right that he should be punished for them, and society protected from him.

Though not nearly as interesting as FAG, SAG nonetheless produced a night of some attractive frocks, and reasonable award choices.

I haven’t seen The Reader, though I loved the book, and I can believe Kate Winslet would do a good job. Also pleasing to hear of the posthumous award to Heath Ledger, whose characterisation of the Joker in Dark Knight was spot on – sometimes funny, always chilling.

In how many other places would a state chief of police, in an official vehicle, on his way to an official function, be pulled over for travelling 12 kilometres (about 8 mph) over the speed limit, and actually be given a ticket (well, his driver) and actually pay it?

Cool.

Still thinking about my earlier post on Obama’s inauguration speech.

I have been reading Made in America by Bill Bryson. It is about the development of the American version of the English language, and like most of his books, is funny and informative at the same time.

On page thirty-nine Bryson tells the story of Patrick Henry. He includes this quote from Jefferson: ‘When he had spoken in opposition to my opinion, had produced a great effect, and I myself been highly delighted and moved, I have asked myself when it ceased, “What the devil has he said,” and could never answer the enquiry.’

Just hit 70 with my Night Elf Druid (feral spec). When I logged on I noticed I had played this character for 14 days 8 hours and 22 minutes. That’s 344 hours on this toon alone. I have another main on a different account – a demonology specced undead warlock, on whom I have spent slightly less time, and a few alts which have only had a few hours each. So perhaps 700 hours of play all up.

Hmm… I could have learned French in that time. But then, why would you? Of course I could have learned the rudiments of calculus, or read the complete works of Shakespeare, or written my own translation of Dante, all things I have wanted to do for some time, and which have more than once been the subject of New Year’s resolutions. 

But I read and study all the time.

It’s not an easy thing to find the right balance between work, study, and play. In fact I’m so stressed about it, I think I’ll go and have a cold beer, and then go fishing.

And in case you were wondering, I have only just scratched the surface of World of Warcraft, a beautiful, challenging and immersive game which I would recommend to (almost) anyone.

This was an article I wrote ten months ago after comment by The Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide in the Church Guardian of March 2008 that Anglicans welcomed the Prime Minister’s apology to indigenous people for the stolen generations. The announcement of Mick Dodson as Australian of the Year seemed an appropriate context in which to dust it off and re-post:

I was a little surprised to read in the March edition of The Guardian that “Anglicans Welcome PM’s Apology.”

Perhaps there has been some specific research I am not aware of to gauge Anglican thought on the matter. Polls of the general public returned varying results. Some groups claimed to find a majority in support, but a Channel Ten poll with 10,000 respondents found that 76% disagreed. Yahoo/Channel Seven reported that a poll of 23,000 showed 62% disagreed. Whatever the actual figures, it is difficult to view the Prime Minister’s apology as an act expressing or contributing to a sense of national unity.

The Archbishop said that people reluctant to apologise complained that it should not be necessary to relive the events of the past before we can move on. This is an argument I have more often heard from Church leaders. Following some disaster in a parish, or some injustice against a lay person or member of the clergy, we frequently hear urgings along the lines of “Well yes, it was terribly sad, but it’s all the past, too much water under the bridge, can’t do anything about it now, we need to forgive and forget, let’s move on together.” Of course the Archbishop is right to point out that such arguments are complete nonsense. The extent to which peace and reconciliation are possible depends on the extent to which there is a commitment to truth and justice.

Read the rest of this entry »

From a justifiably angry column in the Jersusalem Post

“Even if the Palestinians want peace, Hamas won’t let them have it, because Hamas knows best, and jihad “is the only solution.” Don’t believe me, read the Covenant. It likes nothing better than killing Jews, and the bigger bully in Teheran thinks that’s a damn fine thing too. No one says a word, because the UN is dominated by the Islamic states, and the Western governments know where the oil comes from, and nobody likes the Jews much anyway. The people calling for the end of Israel while they march on the streets of London and Dublin aren’t all Muslims by any means.” 

“In a bizarre reversal of all their commitment to human rights and the struggle of men and women for independence and self-determination, the European Left has chosen again and again to side with the bullies and to condemn a small nation struggling to survive in a hostile neighborhood. It is all self-contradictory: The Left supports gay rights, yet attacks the only country in the Middle East where gay rights are enshrined in law. Hamas makes death the punishment for being gay, but “we are all Hamas now.” Iran hangs gays, but it is praised as an agent of anti-imperialism, and allowed to get on with its job of stoning women and executing dissidents and members of religious minorities. If UK Premier Gordon Brown swore to wipe France from the face of the earth, he would become a pariah among nations. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatens to do that to Israel and is invited to speak to the UN General Assembly.”

It is worth reading the whole article.

Worth noting too, that Hamas says that the condition for any reconciliation between itself and Fatah, in other words, the condition for a unified Palestian Authority, is that Fatah must cease any discussions or negotiations with Israel.

How many times does it need to be said? No matter what Israel does, there can be no peace with Hamas. For heaven’s sake, Hamas says the same thing. 

Australia Day honours and all that. A chance for recognition for people who have made a substantial contribution to their local communities or to state or nation.

In addition to many other awards, numbering in the hundreds, each year one person is selected by a committee to be ‘Australian of the Year’. My understanding is that the Prime Minister makes the final decision, but I cannot imagine the PM not accepting the committee’s recommendation.

This year’s choice is Mick Dodson. Pardon?

It is hard to think of anything positive Mr Dodson (or his brother Pat, for that matter) has done for Australia. In fact Mick Dodson is likely to be most closely associated in the minds of ordinary Australians with two mischievous and dishonest reports: that of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and the notorious ‘Bringing them Home’ report about the Stolen Generations.

Dishonest because the Royal Commission (Dodson was counsel assisting) knew very well that the research showed clearly that the proportion of aboriginal deaths in custody was no higher than that of other ethnic groups, and in some cases lower, yet perpetuated the lie of higher aboriginal death rates. The report recommended special treatment and conditions for indigenous people based on the alleged additional difficulties faced by aboriginal people in coping with imprisonment, even though the research showed that some of the proposed special options, for example home or community detention, actually resulted in higher suicide rates than imprisonment.

Dishonest because despite page after page of tragic tales of separation from family (and some of them truly are tragic) the authors of the Bringing them Home report (Dodson was one of them) have not at any time been able to name even ten aboriginal persons who were removed from home or family because of government policy to ‘steal’ aboriginal children. No such policy ever existed anywhere in Australia.

There has been one case where a court has given compensation to an aboriginal person for being improperly removed from his home – that of Bruce Trevorrow. But Mr Trevorrow was able to claim compensation precisely because he was able to show that his removal was contrary to goverenment policy, and that the social worker who removed him (though it was clear she thought she was acting in his best interests, and rescuing him from a violent and abusive environment from which parental care was frequently absent) had acted beyond the powers granted to her.

These reports were mischievous because they falsely exposed Australia to international ridicule, harmed rather than improved actual outcomes for aboriginal people, and encouraged an ongoing refusal by some indigenous groups to acknowledge any responsibilty for their own life, work and well being.

Much more could be said, about, for example, Mr Dodson’s vocal and vindictive opposition to the Federal Government’s attempts to reduce the appalling rates of child sexual abuse in remote indigenous communities.

On what possible basis is Mr Dodson an appropriate or reasonable choice for Australian of the year?